At one time, Brooks Memorial State Park in south central Washington had an extensive network of equestrian trails, but sadly, they fell into disuse and became overgrown. Lucky for all of us, in recent years park managers have teamed up with Back Country Horsemen volunteers to re-open the park’s historic trails!
The trails at Brooks Memorial State Park travel through an interesting forest of ponderosa pines, oaks, and Douglas-firs.
Located on Hwy. 97 north of Goldendale, Brooks Memorial State Park lies in the transition zone between the South Yakima Valley and the pine-covered slopes of the Simcoe Mountains. A nine-mile network of horse trails now traverses the park’s low hills, running through a beautiful forest of ponderosa pines, oaks, and Douglas-firs. These trails have been fully reconstructed and are well signed, allowing you to create several fun, easy loop rides.
The horses travel side by side down a forest road.
You’ll find additional riding on the 900-acre park’s hilltops, which feature stands of oak trees and grassy meadows that offer views toward the Columbia Gorge. You can even see Mt. Hood from one vantage point. On the hilltops, you can ride the forest roads, follow the indistinct trails, or go cross-country.
The park’s open hilltops allow you to ride cross country.
The equestrian parking area has a picnic table, potable water from a spigot, and parking for 6-8 trailers. You’ll find vault toilets at the group campsite 0.2 mile down the road.
You’ll find plenty of trailer parking at Brooks Memorial State Park.
A horse camp is currently in the planning stages. For now, you can arrange to primitive camp at the equestrian parking area by arrangement with park management. You’ll find good trees for highlining adjacent to the parking area, and coin-operated hot showers are available in the family campground across Hwy. 97. The equestrian parking area is close to Hwy. 97, so noise from the heavy truck traffic can be an issue.
From Goldendale, take Hwy. 97 north for 11 miles. Directly across from the park’s large entrance sign on the left, turn right on an unsigned road. Drive past the ranger station and a couple of staff houses, and when the road forks, veer right toward the group camp. (If the gate is closed, open it.) After 0.4 mile, park on the right in an open area next to a stand of ponderosa pines and oaks.
Reprinted with permission from Northwest Rider Magazine, July 2017.