Bear Branch Horse Camp offers well-equipped campsites and lodging, great family dining, and beautiful trails and natural scenic beauty in all directions!

Year-round Horse Camping at Its Best in the Shawnee National Forest

Chosen by readers of Western Horseman and Trail Blazer magazines as among the
"Top 5 Best Places to Ride"!

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Catering to Trail Riders, Hikers, Hunters and Nature Lovers

Seven Trail Tips: Leave No Trace

While riding in the Shawnee National Forest, we came across a nice tie area that the Shawnee Trails Conservancy had put in just for horses. There were wild flowers of all kind including what is becoming an invasive species on our trails. It is the “Charmin Lily”. In case you don’t know what this flower is, it appears when someone leaves a wad of toilet paper in the woods. These particular “Charmin lilies” were left within 15 feet of the hitching rails.

Did you know that it takes 2 to 4 years for toilet paper to dissolve? Yes this includes the “bio-degradable paper. How much trouble would it have been for them to put the paper in a small zip lock bag and taken it out? While we are out enjoying Mother Nature on our equine friends, let’s remember the 7 points of Leave No Trace.
  1. Plan and prepare for your trip. Even if you are just going for a day ride, make sure that you have emergency equipment with you, first aid for you and the horse. Have you told anyone where you are going?
  2. Travel on durable surfaces. STAY ON the TRAIL! Don’t go around the mud holes. Train your horse to go through them. Here in the Eastern half of the US, we don’t and shouldn’t “bush whack” on public trails. Why is it that people complain about not having enough trails and then short cut a trail just to get back quicker?
  3. Dispose of waste properly. This boils down to one simple thing “Pack it in-Pack it out”. There is no reason to see these “charmin Lilies” on our trails. Take along a couple of zip lock bags and take the toilet paper out and dispose of it in a trash can or toilet. Another problem that horse riders have is weight. How can 12 oz. can of beverage weight more empty than full? If you take it out bring it back. This is one thing that on multi-use trails (not including ATV’s) that we as horse people are the most guilty of. Keep our trails clean and enjoyable for years to come by simply “Packing it out.”
  4. Leave things where you find them. If it is pretty to you or interesting to you, it is more likely just as interesting to the next person. Leave things where Nature put them so all can enjoy!
  5. Minimize impact. When you ride in groups try to keep it 10 riders or less per group. Stay on the designated trail. Keep your horse walking while “pooping”. At the trail head, don’t clean out your trailer by throwing the manure to the wayside and in the weeds. Clean up after your horse and take it home to dispose of properly. No one, including horse people, wants to be in an area that stinks from rotting manure and is fly infested.
  6. Respect wildlife. Leave them alone! Don’t leave food scraps where you decide to have lunch. This invites animals to the area and changes their feeding habits. If you take a dog out on the trail, and you should not especially in groups of 4 or more, make sure the dog is well behaved. But keep in mind that all dogs, and I mean ALL dogs, will chase animals if given the chance.
  7. Respect others on the trail. As our population keeps increasing, so will the amount of users on the trails. Not all people understand our love of the outdoors from atop a horse, just as a lot of horse people don’t understand hiking or biking. But these trails are for all to enjoy. So the next time you meet a hiker take a few moments and talk with them. Get off the trail and talk to them. Horses are usually scared of hikers as they look line Bears with their big packs. If you can get them to talk to you, your horse will not be as afraid to pass.Give them the “right of way.”
These are the 7 principles of Leave No Trace, and as trail users we should try and follow them as closely as possible. Now I can hear the “yea right’s” and the “I am not going to do THAT” but just give it a try. If we all do our part then our trails will be cleaner and a whole lot healthier making for a more enjoyable trip into the Great Outdoors!
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P.O. Box 10, Highway 145 | Eddyville, Illinois 62928 | 618.672.4249 | Contact


Updated 2/18/17 • Copyright © 2017 Wingos Bear Branch Horse Camp • Website by Sangres Webs
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