You can ride in the dunes, or north and south along the beach, or on the North Spit trail system a few miles south of the horse camp.
Note that the dunes north of the horse camp are designated as an OHV play area, so if you plan to ride there you may want to do it on a weekday when motorized usage is lower.
Wild Mare Campground is first rate, with nicely wooded campsites, paved parking pads, vault toilets, potable water spigots, manure pits, garbage cans, and a fully-appointed day-use area.
The family campgrounds nearby are popular with off-highway vehicle owners who ride in the sand dunes, but OHVs are not permitted in the horse camp or on the horse trails.
The main trail to the beach and dunes departs next to campsite #7, and two other dune trails depart from the campground’s day-use parking area.
You can ride north on the beach 15 miles one way to the mouth of the Umpqua River, or south nearly 7 miles to Coos Bay (the bay, not the town). And you can explore several miles of trails through the dunes south of the horse camp.
If you’d like to explore the North Spit trail network, you can either ride south on the beach for 4 miles, or you can drive to the trailhead. (See directions below.) From the trailhead, ride the South Dike Road westward to the North Loop, or ride farther west to reach the Foredune Road and the beach.
You’ll find signs at trail junctions, and reassurance signs that indicate what trail you are on. Beware of riding cross-country over the large sand dunes–the sand may be unstable and could slip away beneath your horse, causing a wreck.
Getting to Wild Mare Campground: Wild Mare Horse Camp is 8 miles north of Coos Bay and 25 miles south of Reedsport, off Hwy. 101. Turn west on Trans Pacific Lane and follow the signs toward Horsfall Beach. After 1.1 miles, turn right on Horsfall Road. The horse camp is 1.9 miles ahead on the left.
Getting to the North Spit: Take Hwy. 101 to Trans Pacific Lane and follow the signs toward Horsfall Beach. Instead of turning right toward Horsfall Beach, go straight for 3 more miles. The equestrian parking area is on the right about 0.1 mile past the BLM boat launch. Or you can ride down the beach from Wild Mare Horse Camp to the South Dike Road (about 4 miles one way) and pick up the trail network from there.
Season: Year round
Facilities: Wild Mare Campground has 12 back-in campsites, each with a level, paved parking pad, a 2- or 4-horse corral, a fire pit, and a picnic table. Some sites can accommodate two vehicles. Some of the corrals are made of logs, while others are steel. Toilets, drinking water spigots, garbage cans, and manure bins. The day-use area has parking for several trailers.
Fees: Fees for camping; reservations required. (www.recreation.gov or 877-444-6777.) Fee or Northwest Forest Pass for day-use parking.
More Information: Wild Mare Campground is covered in more detail in Riding Southern Oregon Horse Trails, by Kim McCarrel, Ponderosa Press, 2014).