Trail Report: Blue Hole – 302a Disabled Hunting Branch 

February 21, 2017

Today I went to Blue Hole, turned around at the end where I normally park, and then drove back, over two cattle grates and just a bit past the 302a disabled hunting access branch (which is on the left as I drove) and parked on the left side of the road.  

I headed back down the road and started up 302a (now on my right), around the closed gate, and continued on. 



I stayed straight to the end of the fire road, close to 2 – 2.5 miles, where there is a brown wooden post to prevent 4 wheeled traffic, and on up the trail that continued.  Off to the left is a big field to explore at a later time.  

The trail ended or I could have just lost it. It was pretty clear right up to the end, and I did see old hoof prints.  I also saw some old blue blazes and some pink flags that looked pretty new.  It ended right around 3.2 total miles at this point.  I turned around and started back. Then I went up hill to the left following pink tags, up to the top of the hill, and onto an actual trail running along the top. 

On this map below – I entered the map from the top right corner, on the FR at that point, and I rode up, taking the top where the black line splits. This is where the FR ends.  I continued straight on the top line, and down the map and ending on the line on the right hand side of the map.  

I turned around and rode back to the branch off to the left.  This is the big hill that the pink flags go up.  The path at the top went in both directions but the short branch is where the trail fades out. The other direction kept going with nice views on both sides, well flagged in fresh long pink tape, and a worn path.  The leaf litter did get deep in places and made following the trail tough in a few points. But really, this trail has been groomed.  

Looking again at the zoom in of the map below, I suspect it meets up with the trail marked in the light red dashes just below the black line. 

When I lost the pink flagged trail I turned around and followed it back to the main trail and continued back towards the fire road.   There is one spot that there is quite a bit of downed trees on this trail.  A path has been cleared for all but one, that seems rather fresh.  Right around this are is an old FR or logging road going down to the right.  The entrance has a screen of trees over it but beyond it is perfectly clear, and a closed fire gate can be seen.  I went down this road.  Of course. 

It was cleared, and still nice and wide, although at one point the leaf litter was up to Simons chest.  He seemed to enjoy this.  I rode it down till it leveled out at a camp type circle and a pond.  The road goes off left and right and appears to continue straight as well.  I went very briefly left and right and then turned around and headed all the way back to the trailer. 

Duh I am super excited to explore more here.  There are close to a dozen fire roofs, old logging roads, and what appear to be trail heads along this ride from today that I did not check out.  You can look forward to some more exploring over here.  

Trail Report – Blue Hole 302 Grove Hollow

March 17, 2015

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You have to cross 4 cattle guards to get all the way back to the trail head.   Fire road 302A leads up to a handicapped hunting area. The two cattle guards on the road before this turn are easy to navigate a pony around.  If you continue straight past 302A and directly over a cattle guard, and eventually a second one, you will come to a good parking area for the main part of 302.  There is a gate just a bit past the second of these guards and parking areas.  Both of these guards are not possible to ride around, at least not that I can see.  There is room for a couple trailers to park as long as everyone is mindful of the others need to turn around (or pull through).

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Sunday morning Rich and I drove out to Blue Hole to check the road conditions for trailering in.  It tends to flood and also stay snowy and icy later than other areas and I didn’t want to get stuck on the one lane road in.  Everything looked good.  Just a little snow by the parking areas, one of which was pretty muddy, but the other was just fine.

I arrived at the area about two hours later with pony in tow and began the drive back into the National Forest.  Since we had checked the road that morning a tree had blown down across the road.  Uh oh.  Not to be thwarted I put the truck in park and went to bust up some wood.  Not to exaggerate my (wo-)manliness, the tree was small and it was so dried out that most of it had busted up on impact.  I cleared the pieces away and was able to rotate the rest of the trunk off the road.  The picture below is an “after” clearing shot.  Go me.

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Tree removal done, I finished the drive in, parked, mounted up and headed out.

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They are logging the area so the initial fire road in is very well maintained, and has fresh gravel on it.  There is also a new logging road that shoots off to the right a little ways in.

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I noticed a lot of hoof prints (and poo) at the start, almost all headed up the fire road like me.  I saw very few headed back down.  Not too far along two very fresh sets of tracks headed off left to the side of the road and down the hill onto marked “Private Property”.  It had the feel of a loop, and no tracks came back up.  But being private property I moved on.

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Most of the tracks eventually disappeared, and I found I was on the same path as one set of rather fresh tracks.  I made a left onto the first real and pronounced fire road turn.  There had been a few other turns and small trails that I would like to explore, but I wanted to make some distance and see the over all layout to start out with this new-to-me area.  Plus I really wanted to know where these one way tracks went.

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There were a couple turns on this road as well, some probably old logging roads.  There were also quite a few camp areas on the sides, and even one in the middle of the road.

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We found a mineral salt lick near one camp area. and quite a few old piles of tree tubes left behind.

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At one of the large clear areas the fire road branched down to the left, straight, and there was a trail that branched up to the right.  Unfortunately this area was heavy in grass and leaves and I could not determine which direction the other horse tracks went.  I decided to continue straight.  Eventually it became clear that the other tracks did not go straight.

It was an extremely windy day, but both dogs and Simon started to alert around the same time I began to hear a noise loud enough to be distinguished over the wind.  At first I thought it must be a large flock of birds nearby, but then I realized it was spring peepers.  Sure enough, there was a pond off to the left.  Mixed with the wind they almost sounded like a whole flock of hens clucking about.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThis seemed like a good time to turn around and head back.  I figure the other horse had taken the first road down to the left.  When I got back and looked at my GPS tracking vs the forest map, I suspect this is a loop of sorts and I am eager to check it out in the near future.

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Behind the parking area is a trail that runs back along the creek.  I followed quite a few set of fresh horse tracks back a ways, and crisscrossed the creek a few times before I decided Simon and I had enough for the day.  There were a few large logs down that Simon was just tall enough to maneuver over.  He is quite the little tank.

I am really interested to explore this area a lot more.  I put a post up on a local Facebook equestrian group in hopes of finding someone that rides back there that can give me some insight on the possibility of a loop.   I was also pretty pleased with Simon and myself doing a good 16 mile ride.  I don’t think either of us were too worn out at the end.

Blue Hole Trail Ride

January 30, 2013

This is not a trail report.  I cannot find my map to show where the trail was exactly, but I will find it and I will go back and do a bit more exploring in the future.

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For this ride I met up with Carol Ann, and we took our ponies to check out to a new area.  We parked at the bottom at the Blue Hole Picnic Area and headed up the fire road.

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There were a few houses and two cattle guards to skirt.  But after a short bit we passed a sign that stated this was an area in national forest with access for disabled hunters.  And shortly later we passed a fire road gate, closed to traffic.  excellent.

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We tried a side path, which we believe was an old fire road turn off on the map.   It was a bit over grown, wrapped around the mountain and ended before too long.

We then continued up the main fire road until it ended.  There was a field that went up a hill to the left, and there was a clear trail through it.  We will have to adventure that direction another time.

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There was also a trail that continued straight out from the end of the fire road, but it ended shortly at a heavily downed tree area that looked rather old.  We decided to turn around and head back at that point.

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I also saw a few other smaller looking side trails, but again, will have to try those adventures at another time.

It was a good time, and fun to ride with Carol Ann and Finn.  Simon is so different around other ponies and had a lot more get up and go.  He actually had a working walk without me pushing him constantly.  It was kind of a a nice.  Although he tossed his head a few times, which was really annoying.  So next time we ride with someone else, I think I’ll add in a martingale.

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