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Horse Butte Trail

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9.8 miles
743' ↑

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Trail Description

This is primarily a winter riding area due to the sandy soils. Winter rain and snow doesn't hit this area as hard, and trails are often prime in the winter months.

 E-bikes NOT allowed on Horse Butte

Horse Butte is primarily a winter riding area East of Bend which consists of Arnold Ice Cave Trail, Coyote Loop Trail, Swamp Wells Trail, and Boyd Cave Trail.

During summer months the area is typically avoided as the soil is too dry and sandy due to limited tree cover. This type of soil lends itself to drying out quicker than the west side trails, so if trails on the west side are muddy – you can often find good riding here.

Most people access these trails by parking at the base of Horse Butte which is on Horse Butte Rd. From the parking area, there is a standard 10 mile loop that can be ridden in either direction. There are also many extended options into the Swamp Wells area and even as far East as Horse Ridge.

For the 10 mile loop, many prefer to ride counter clockwise as there is one steep, loose and techy switchback section along a rock ridge on the East end that is quite difficult to climb without walking. The loop takes from 45 minutes to an hour for most people, and is more narrow than most trails on the West side of bend due to less frequent traffic. Bunch grass and sagebrush grow very close to the tread, so be mindful of sneaker rocks. One of the things that makes this a desirable area to ride is that you have views from almost anywhere along the 10 mile loop due to a past forest fire.

Half way along the loop the you cross a gravel road which you can follow a quarter mile to Boyd Cave entrance. If riding clockwise, start the loop across Horse Butte Rd from the trailhead. This is the start of Arnold Ice Cave Trail. If riding counter-clockwise, follow the gravel road along the South edge of Horse Butte and look on the left for Swamp Wells trail which has a sign about a quarter mile down.

Note there can be horse traffic at times, which can leave the trail quite bumpy in sections. These bumps iron out fairly fast once a few bikes ride through.

Fat Biking on the Horse Butte Trails

This trail is maintained by Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

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    Recent Reports

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    1. Barney Gill says:

      Rode the Horse Butte Trail clockwise from the Horse Butte Trailhead yesterday afternoon. The Arnold Ice Cave portion was dry and riding well – an out and back recommended. The Boyd Cave connector and back down Coyote Loop were a wet muddy mess with deep ruts. Recommend staying off this. Horse tracks everywhere on trails.

    2. Jason Caron says:

      One track put in. 1-3 inches of fresh, dry snow. A bit more in some of the wind drift sections. Perfect on a fat bike.

    3. Alicia P says:

      Trails were totally unrideable today- so muddy that it’s hard to gauge when they’ll dry out.

      1. David Butler says:

        Rideable with fat tires, but snow is churned up and soft from all the footprints.

    4. Jason Caron says:

      Soooooo muddy…needs at least a few more days to dry out.

    5. Jeremy Brodhead says:

      Trails North of China hat all riding fantastic. Only minimal snow/ice/mud. 97% perfect.

      Trail update brought to you by Hearthside Medicine Cycling Team!

    6. Trevor Miller says:

      Pretty mucky mix of mud and snow, started off China at Boyd and eventually bagged it pretty quickly and turned around. Need to ride early while still frozen

      1. Joe Myers says:

        Yeah – sadly nothing froze last night. 38 and raining at wanoga at 8 am. Green gate parking looked like an ice rink.

    7. 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.

    8. Marty Dawson says:

      Riding Well, 4/21/17. Rode the standard loop past Boyd Cave road, thru the gates and back to Horse Butte parking.

    9. Keoni Chung says:

      Trails in xlnt condition with lost of people out enjoying the trails…even the guy that decided to do some target practice, shooting his gun across the trail just past the gate on the Boyd Cave section. He literally had a target set up on a stump 6 feet from the trail and walked back and started shooting…across the trail…unbelievable! Be careful out there!

      1. Keoni Chung says:

        In case anybody was wondering I did educate him a little and directed him to a more appropriate/safer location.

        1. Dale Navish says:


          Thanks for educating that guy. We came across them at the Boyd Cave road too! I think they had just gotten there and were not set up yet.

    10. Horse Butte 10 Mile Running Race is the Sunday (April 2nd). Starts at 9:00, so plan to ride late afternoon if you’re going to Horse Ridge.

    11. Eric Kutter says:

      At least the main 10mi loop is in awesome shape. Really doesn’t get better. Horse to Horse connector is also in great shape, best I’ve seen it.

    12. Cody McCabe says:

      Trails are in good early season shape. Some muddy sections, and a few snow fields, but as long as you’re out in the open and out of the thickets, things are shaping up!

    13. Dave Coppedge says:

      Rode this morning.. no mud – hero dirt all the way. But.. it started to rain around 8:30, so conditions could change.

    14. Marty Dawson says:

      Rode it this am, March 3. Smooth and hard pack, no mud, tiny bit of dampness here and there from overnight sprinkles.

    15. Bruce Bradshaw says:

      Getting ridden a lot even with the mud. Arnold side is much wetter.

    16. Sections North of China Hat road are reported to be riding really well. Uphill (South) of China Hat is still snow/ice/mush.

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