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Arnold Ice Cave Trail

Trail Snapshot:

13.9 miles
1975' ↑

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Trail Description

 E-bikes NOT allowed on Arnold Ice Cave

Arnold Ice Cave Trail runs from Horse Butte trailhead all the way out to Swamp Wells Horse Camp.

Bunch grass, sagebrush and hidden rocks make for a narrow tread — with the trail getting more remote as you get farther from Horse Butte. The trail starts in the tree cover, and ends in tree cover — but the vast majority of the trail has open views all around. There are some rocky bits along the way with the most challenging portion being a short switchback climb up a ridge just before mile 3.

The first intersection on this trail is with Boyd Cave Trail around mile 4. Many people ride a 10 mile loop connecting Arnold Ice Cave, Boyd Cave, Coyote Loop Trail, and Swamp Wells.

The second intersection is with Horse to Horse which will take you out to the Horse Ridge riding area. From this intersection the trail has no other intersections until you reach the Horse Camp. From the camp you have the option of heading back to Horse Butte by way of Coyote Loop, or Swamp Wells.

For a special treat – Arnold Ice Cave and Hidden Forest Cave are very close to the where Arnold Ice Cave trail crosses China Hat Road.

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    Recent Reports

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    1. Steven Powers says:

      The cows are back on the lower section from China Hat Rd to the fence near Boyd Trail. Still happy cows taste good but they are horrible trail stewards.

      Had an excellent ride! Get some!

    2. Riding great — top to bottom. No ice, snow, or mud.

    3. Barney Gill says:

      Lower half of the trail (north end) up to the Boyd Cave Trail intersection running great yesterday evening! Did not go further up due to time.

    4. Josh McCormack says:

      The lower half of the trail is Riding great today between winter weather systems!

    5. Chris Bailey says:

      Rode it today, and there are sections of snow, mud, and then damp, and dry – just a mixture all throughout. Rideable, but slower going than normal due to the conditions (I did the first 10 miles from Horse Butte to where it hits the road at about 10 miles in).

    6. Truett Shilling says:

      Really nice today, did the big loop. Coyote and Arnold, both are in amazing shape. Maybe the best I have ever seen. Not one puddle!

    7. Marty Brown says:

      The few muddy spots are close to the Horse Butte trailhead, and the rest of the trail was dry to Boyd Cave Trail on Friday.

    8. Paul Weid says:

      December 25 the trail was frozen sand/dirt. Excellent!

    9. Josh L says:

      Rode south of China Hat, and it was nice and dry as far as the 1820 cinder road, where I headed back. Also nice on the north side.

    10. Ross Lesko says:

      Interested to hear from a COTA veteran on how best to represent trail conditions today. Definitely a little residual trail moisture, but for the first several miles tire tracks appeared to be superficial, and I felt that riding was not actually damaging the trail. A mile or two past the cut over to Coyote loop I turned around after encountering standing water, and deep grooves in the trail left by previous riders. So I updated the trail report as muddy, but the first several miles I would say were riding well. Thoughts?

      1. BendTrails says:

        It’s a hard call sometimes. Especially this time of year. You can only pick one condition from the list and it doesn’t always describe the whole trail — and Arnold Ice Cave is a long one. We wrestle with that too. Your text report is great.

        1. Ross Lesko says:

          Awesome – thank you! Really appreciate the feedback. Happy riding e’rybody!

      2. Ryan Pedersen says:

        Winter Mix is a good one to use for those conditions.

    11. BendTrails says:

      Untracked and deep snow from the Boyd Cave junction south.

    12. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Someone cut a big tree down across the trail a little north of the cattle guard. The limbs were cutoff, but the log is about two feet in diameter.

    13. Steven Powers says:

      Steaks taste good, otherwise..cows are worthless…The cows have destroyed the trail from skeleton cave road to china hat road, turning single track into lots of tracks, deep dust, and cow @#$%. South of china hat road is riding well, with some sections getting cowed.

    14. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Good as far as the cattle guard crossing. Already loose sand North of China Hat Road.

    15. Scott Wolfe says:

      Horse Butte TH to China Hat Road is about 80% clear. North facing switchbacks still have some melting snow and mud. The open areas are dry including the step all the way to the gate. Beyond the gate there are patches of snow and dry dirt through the castle and leading up to the road. Won’t be long.

    16. Natalie Herse says:

      Sadly the cows are active trail users above the little gate you go through south of China Hat road — 3″ of moondust and technical cow patties ;) But not too bad north of the little gate to Boyd cave. We saw not a soul…

    17. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Clear to Swamp Wells. Mostly sandy down low, but only a few loose spots.

    18. Jon Conway says:

      3/30/18 Trail rides great up until the 10 mile mark then increasing snow. The last mile or so before the Horse camp was hike a bike (at least with traditional 2.3 tires) because of slushy snow. The mud was very superficial. Won’t be long before the snow’s gone!

    19. Luke Horton says:

      Superficially wet on occasion, but mostly dry and smooth riding. Once you get past China Hat Rd things are still too wet, though. Patches of ice and snow, lots of mud.

    20. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Dry & riding well from Horse Butte to China Hat. H2H connector is good to go too!

    21. Steven Powers says:

      No good. Did not try to ride the trail. Puddles and mud on the east end. Snow and Ice at the west access.

      1. Steven Powers says:

        West access is the Coyote loop trail where is crosses NF1815

    22. Andria Truax says:

      Muddy up high by Horse Camp, smooth sailing below.

    23. Ryan Pedersen says:

      Too many soupy bits for my taste. I’d advise going farther east to Horse Ridge or riding early.

      1. Rebecca Loveman says:

        Still very soupy/muddy just right before the cattle guard and gets worse. Coyote loop trail less muddy but still enough for concern.

    24. Cody McCabe says:

      Beginning at the end of the pavement on China Hat, and heading out to Swamp Wells H.C. is in good shape. A few muddy spots, and about an inch of snow on the ground towards the top of the climb, but totally ridable. I did see cougar tracks at the top…

    25. Natalie Herse says:

      Skiff of snow over frozen tread, perhaps a max of 1.5″ snow at Swamp Wells campground. No mud. Fantastic.

    26. Riding great down low, by China Hat, but as you get higher there’s more and more snow on the trail.

    27. Zach Blickman says:

      Great conditions south of China Hat rd, but still choppy and loose to the north.

    28. Richard Fernald says:

      Our bovine brethren are beating the be…… out of Boyd Cave Trail down to Arnold and the three miles of Arnold up to China Hat Road.

    29. Natalie Herse says:

      Happy to report the cows have not touched the trail (yet)…a bit o’ dust but actually quite nice trail conditions still exist :)

    30. Marty Dawson says:

      Started at Boyd Cave Rd, up the Arnold Ice Cave trail to Swamp Wells, down the Coyote loop trail to car. Not dusty or sandy, riding well.

    31. Brian Frankle says:

      Rode Arnold Ice Cave – North Swamp Wells Loop this morning. Patchy snow prior to Swamp Wells Butte (riding from Arnold), but nothing too inconvenient. Zero blow down, trails were in fine shape.

    32. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Good at least until the intersection of 1820 and Swamp Wells Rd, at the cattle guard. Had to turn around, but was clear to that point.

    33. Kellie Jacobson says:

      4/2/17: Rode the 10 mile loop from Arnold Ice Cave to Boyd to Coyote Loop. Trails were fantastic – fast and fun.

    34. Josh L says:

      Riding great south from Horse Butte, until a couple miles south of China Hat, where snow patches start appearing. Definitely the best riding south of China Hat I’ve seen.

    35. Zach Blickman says:

      Small patches of snow and a several muddy spots, but good riding up to China Hat rd. I’ll take what I can get.

    36. Brian Frankle says:

      Arnold Ice Cave trail is in great shape. A bit of snow/ice near the Horse Camp, but the lower section is in great shape. Very minimal mud. Smooth as fast.

    37. Patrecia Hedges says:

      Really really good! Moist & packed. At least up to cattle guard at Rd. 1820.

      1. Bruce Bradshaw says:

        Good all the way to the horse camp.

    38. Joe Myers says:

      I agree it’s most likely cows. They trash those trails.

    39. Eric Kutter says:

      Did the loop from Horse Butte to Swamp Wells. Out on Swamp Wells, back on Arnold’s. Swamp Wells was in surprisingly great shape. The outer 2/3 rds of Arnold’s was pretty rough. Seems like it gets a lot more horse traffic than bike.

      1. Natalie Herse says:

        Those were probably cow tracks unfortunately. Lots of them out there :(

    40. Natalie Herse says:

      Rode up Upper Coyote and down Arnold Ice Cave trail. Moist, tacky trail. Some cows/tracks on middle Arnold but since I was going downhill it didn’t really bother me as it was firm enough. The rain caught me on lower Arnold. Go get it while it’s moist!

    41. Marc Fortier says:

      Who let the cows out ? Some sections with significant cow traffic and droppings, but mostly firm and nice

    42. Marc Fortier says:

      Primo : sand is hard-packed and everything is firm and fast

    43. Natalie Herse says:

      Perfection. No trees down. No snow. Actually sandy in a few spots. Go get it before the horses do.

    44. Mike Johnson says:

      The trail is super fast and completely clear of snow all the way to the horse camp. I wonder how long it will be before we can go all the way to Paulina?

      1. Joe Myers says:

        thanks! how many down trees?

        1. Bruce Bradshaw says:

          No deadfall across trail.

    45. Tim Foster says:

      It was hike a bike due to snow the last 1/2 mile into Horse Camp. Made the turn onto Coyote Loop with a bit more of snow patches. What a great day!

    46. Bryant Vette says:

      Nice and dry out to the side trail to the cave then patchy snow started. Turned back after that.

    47. Nathan Weisz says:

      Rode it 3/5/16
      Hit some snow around mile 11 from TH
      Turned back about mile 13
      Couldn’t make junction
      Otherwise rode great!!

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