Horseback Riding in North Florida
Baker County park trails are designated for only certain types of public use. To provide quality trail experiences and protect the parks' natural resources, please respect trail designations and be aware of others using the trails. Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when horseback riding on public lands (Nicole's Law). Additionally, riders must have proof of current negative "Coggins Test" results for their horses before riding on state lands.
Riding Horses in Osceola National Forest
All horseback riding trails in the Osceola National Forest originate at West Tower where the park has dedicated horse stalls. Riders can find additional information posted at the trailhead and are asked to use only certified weed-free hay while visiting the park. The National Forest offers nearly 50 miles of horseback trails in four loops including:
West Tower - Blue Trail
Blue Trail traverses pine flatwoods and cypress swamps following an old railroad grade. A portion of the horse trail is located on maintained forest roads, so watch for vehicles.
West Tower - Gold Trail
Approximately 16 miles long, the Gold Trail passes through two bay swamps and crosses Robinson Branch. Since the water level can be deep during wet periods, the Gold Trail is not recommended for novice riders.
West Tower - Green Trail
The shortest of all the National Forest horseback trails, the Green Trail mostly follows main roads and is approximately a five-mile ride.
West Tower - Red Trail
The National Forest's Red Trail crosses the driest sections of the park and passes through pine flatwoods and cypress sloughs. The approximately 20-mile long trail is highly recommended for horseback rides during the wet season. Riders can take a cutoff in the middle of the ride for a shorter 10-mile adventure.
Horseback trails in the Osceola National Forest are open to the public and marked with color-coded, diamond-shaped aluminum markers on trees and posts along the routes. A double diamond indicates a turn along the route. On trail, these are marked with arrows on the side of the trail to alert riders as to the direction of the turn. For public health and safety reasons, horses are permitted anywhere in the Osceola National Forest except in developed campgrounds and recreation areas. During hunting season, riders are encouraged to wear large amounts of fluorescent orange safety gear.
Horseback Riding in St. Marys Shoals Park
If you own a horse and enjoy riding, numerous horseback trails have been opened in Baker County's many conservation areas and on established roads and fire lines. Horse trails in both the John M. Bethea State Forest and the eastern side of St. Marys Shoals Park are clearly marked by park signs. Park officials have estimated that there are approximately 19 miles of horse trails in St. Marys Shoals Park and 13 miles of trails in the John M. Bethea State Forest. Collectively, the Baker County parks also account for approximately 5 miles of frontage along the St. Marys River. Riders can check either of the park's area maps for additional horseback riding opportunities or contact the Baker County Chamber of Commerce at (904) 259-6433.
NOTE: Since horses are easily spooked by the unexpected or unfamiliar, all park visitors, cyclists and hikers are required to yield to those on horseback.