Many of our Pacific Northwest Trail Association members are riders and packers.
We enjoy strong partnerships with several chapters of the Backcountry Horsemen whose members volunteer to maintain sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail.
Some of our riders’ (and horses’) favorite sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail include:
- Belly River, Glacier National Park
- Ten Lakes Scenic Area, Kootenai National Forest near Eureka, Montana
- Salmo- Priest Wilderness, Colville National Forest near Metaline Falls, Washington
- Abercrombie Mountain and Hooknose Mountain, Colville National Forest near Metaline Falls, Washington
- Kettle Crest National Scenic Area, Colville National Forest near Republic, Washington
- Mt. Bonaparte, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Tonasket, Washington
- Whistler Canyon (Okanogan County/BLM) and Mt. Hull (Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest) near Oroville, Washington
- Loomis State Forest (Washington DNR) and Horseshoe Basin (Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest) near Oroville, Washington
- Boundary Trail, Pasayten Wilderness, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
- Chilliwack Basin, North Cascades National Park near Glacier, Washington
- Harry Osborne State Forest (Washington DNR) near Hamilton, Washington
- Buckhorn Wilderness, Olympic National Forest near Quilcene, Washington
- Olympic National Park (except Coastal Segment)
Check with local land managers to be sure you know the stock regulations for the areas where you will travel. Some areas may require weed-free feed, bear-resistant panniers, and use of designated stock camps only.
You are a model for other trail users and an ambassador to hikers and bikers who may not know how to act when encountering stock. Our friends at the Back Country Horsemen of Washington and our neighbors on the Pacific Crest Trail offer some excellent resources to serve as a refresher on how to stay safe, minimize impacts, and maximize enjoyment on the trail.
Prohibitions and Caution
In spirit, the Pacific Northwest Trail is open to riders and their horses. However, the practical fact is that, for now, there are significant sections of the Pacific Northwest Trail that are not passable due to trail conditions or other safety concerns. There are also sections on trails that local land managers have closed to stock.
If you are considering a thru-ride or long-distance ride of the Pacific Northwest Trail, we would be happy to talk with you about logistics and potential alternate routes to avoid non-passable sections. Please visit our Sedro-Woolley, WA office, call (1-877-854-9415), or email us.
Trails closed to stock include:
- Shore Trail at Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve near LaConner, Washington
- Some trails in Deception Pass State Park near Anacortes, Washington
- Bluff Trail at Fort Ebey State Park and Ebey’ s Landing/Robert Y. Pratt Preserve near Coupeville, Washington
- Fort Casey State Park near Coupeville, Washington
- Olympic Coast in Olympic National Park (all except Rialto Beach)
Some sections that we know to be non-passable include:
- Swift Creek Trail #607, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Concrete, Washington
- Blanchard Mountain from Overlook to Chuckanut Drive , Blanchard State Forest near Edison, Washington
- The PNT route includes a ferry crossing between Coupeville and Port Townsend. Livestock may only be transported on Washington State Ferries in a vehicle/trailer.
This is not an exhaustive list. The passability of any section depends on the experience of the rider and the animal. Contact local land managers to ask about trail conditions.
Currently, parts of the Pacific Northwest Trail route are along the side of high-speed roads that may not have an adequate shoulder for safe passage. Additionally, Glacier National Park does not allow private stock on paved roads in the park, except when closed to vehicles (winter—day use only, permits required), affecting:
- Bowman Lake Road
- Inside North Fork Road
Our long-term goal is to get the Pacific Northwest Trail entirely off roads and onto trails. The experience of other long-distance trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, shows us that it takes time but can be done!