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Trail Happenings June 2011

Equestrian Trails at Onion Creek and Ken's Lake
by Deb Walter


Two longtime favorite horse trails in the Moab area have been designated and marked for equestrian use. The Red Rock Trail near Ken's Lake and the Onion Creek trail system have designated campsites and corrals and are clearly signed.

Onion Creek Trails and Equestrian Campsites
The riding is wonderful! The scenery is spectacular and many old John Wayne westerns were filmed at Onion Creek. Riding the terrain puts one into the mood of a pioneer or cowboy in that time and place. The footing is wonderful for horses, barefoot or shoed. There are some long straight stretches for extending into faster gaits, as well as some more technical spots that get the horses to think. Besides the two clearly marked bi-directional loop trails, many other unmarked trails beg for exploration on horseback. One can easily spend a few days horse camping and riding various trails in the area.

The camping facilities at Onion Creek have been fixed up to feel like an old western movie. There are 2 developed camping sites with picnic tables. Pit toilets are nearby. For the horses there are four cedar corrals, each about 20' x 20'. It is a good idea for campers to bring extra water for their horses. Horses can drink out of nearby Onion Creek, but it is somewhat salty.
Down the road at the Red Cliffs Lodge is a museum featuring history of movie making in the area. The museum has a self-guided tour and is open to the public daily. The on site winery has daily tours and wine tasting at the lodge.

Directions to Onion Creek: Drive east along the Colorado River (Highway 128, "the river road") for 20 miles. Turn right at the Onion Creek road sign. The camping area and turnaround are about a mile drive from 128. It is secluded, quiet and a safe place for horses overnight. Reservations can be made by calling BLM in Moab at 435-259-2100 weekdays. The fee is $5.00 per night per vehicle. All trash and manure must be hauled away.

Red Rock Trail and Equestrian Campsites at Ken's Lake
The Red Rock Trail is another fun, scenic, and interesting ride. It's hard to believe that such wonderful riding exists so close to Moab. The trail weaves along the red cliffs to the north and south of the campground and connects up to several other trails that wander to the Faux Falls viewpoint and around the lake. For those who want to explore, one can ride further -either north or south for more adventure and challenges. The trail is mostly sand with a bit of slickrock, which provides very good footing for barefoot horses. A few hills, creek crossings, and activity of other campers offer some minor challenges, but nothing extreme.

Two new equestrian campsites are almost completed at the Ken's Lake Recreational Area Campground. Each site has a level spot for a trailer, a picnic table and a fire pit. There will be two 20' x 20' pipe fence corrals. Pit toilets are nearby. No potable water is provided so be sure to bring your own, however good water for horses is available in the stream, or lake. To pick up the trail from the campsite, a rider can go along the camp road to the stream area, overland towards the Falls, or across the street to the parking lot which also provides access to the trail. The fee for a nightly stay is $12.00, and it is first come first served. Trash and horse manure can be put in the dumpster located in the campground. Dogs must be on a leash at all times within the camp area.

For non-riding members of your camping party, Ken's Lake offers hiking, fishing,swimming, or hanging out on the beach. It is also a great place for a dip after a dusty ride.

Directions to Ken's Lake: Drive 7.8 milessouth of Moab from Center streetonHighway 191 and turn left or east at the signto the La Sal Mountain Loop Road. Drive .6 miles on county rd/old airport rd to a stop sign then turn right, or south, on Spanish Valley Drive. Drive 1.5 additional miles and turn left, or east at the sign toKen's Lake, (county rd 175). The lake andcampground are on the left. Enjoy yourride and your camp!

About the author: Deb Walter, and her husband Dick, are active members of theSouth East Backcountry Horsemen Assoc. and the non-motorized Grand County Trail Mix Committee. Deb has helped implementproper signage of the equestrian trails, and she has helped with the improvements to the facilities for equestrians at the campgrounds.

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