Horseshoe Ranch 4-29-24

Photos by Jerry, Linda, Randy and Steve

Ashland Hiking Home

After last year's first-ever visit to Horseshoe Ranch in Hornbrook, we had an even bigger turnout for Monday's hike. 19 AHG members gathered at the Horseshoe Ranch TH for our exploration of this wonderful place. It's become a favorite hike because it offers so much; rushing water in Scotch Creek, clean air, rolling hills, and a wide variety of wildflowers and animal life.

Thick patches of Lupine mixed with Paintbrush, Oregon Sunshine, and California Poppies colored the path up to the horse meadows.

Many come hoping to see herds of wild horses but fall in love with rustic scenery seemingly from an old-time Western movie. During Monday's hike, we saw two groups of four horses, one had a young foal. Many horses were brought to the 9,100-acre ranch during the COVID-19 pandemic when ranchers couldn't afford to keep them. The horses run free and live off the grasslands of the open range. A group of about 15 horses were seen drinking from the creek.

We arrived at the TH off Copco Road at 9:15 after leaving  Ashland at 8:30. The driving distance is 35 miles one way, so a short drive for a California hike. The Hornbrook Exit 789 puts you on Copco Road for a 12+ mile drive out to the TH and along the Klamath River.

We took the same route on the trail as last year following Scotch Creek into the higher meadows. Randy and Jerry crossed the creek using plastic bags to protect their boots from the rushing water. They explored two stone shelters where water and hay are stored for the horses during dry summer weather.

The creek turns right and heads east into the hills. Halted by another creek crossing, we took a slanting trail up to the top of an open meadow. Lunch came after a climb to the top of a hill overlooking the grasslands below.

We didn't see the 30+ horses from last year, perhaps the noise and activity from the  three dam removal projects
made them move deeper into the ranch away from the TH.

On the way back to the cars, we spotted a large nest in a snag and got pictures of the occupants. White-headed Osprey both the parent and the offspring.

On this day, we hiked 4+ miles with 600 feet of gain.

Note: To hike at the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area, hikers must purchase a California Lands Pass ($5.66) online at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife site.

Happy Trails.
Rich