Member Trip report
Snowshoe hike to Horse Mtn
Trip Report/Photos from BillyB1976
Horse Mountain is not a major mountain, but there are excellent views from the top of a high cliff on the southwest side. I'd say the cliff is almost 300 feet high!
I've never been to Horse Mountain in the winter, and there is a very good reason. It is a very long hike to get there. I had called the land manager a few days earlier and they confirmed the road was not plowed that goes by the mountain. The nearest plowed road was almost 4.5 miles from the trailhead.
It was a very cold morning. When I left home it was 14 below zero. I don't have a thermometer in my vehicle, but I'm sure it was still below zero when I started my hike. Later that evening after arriving home I found out it got down to 23 below zero at Clayton Lake, several miles to the west of my hike.
The cold was not an issue as I was dressed for it and quickly warmed up. It was sunny and very little wind.
No one had been over the road recently, but at some point before the last couple of snowstorms, someone had drove on the road. There was probably around 1 foot of snow on the ground, but walking in the tire tracks with my snowshoes was easier than walking along side of them.
For the first 3.5 miles there is only about 240 feet of elevation gain, so that went fairly easy. At that point I could've turned on another road and started the final stretch to the mountain, but I wanted to get a picture of the cliff. I had to continue ahead another 0.7 miles to a spot downhill that had a good view of the cliff. After taking the picture I turned around and went back uphill to the road that goes towards the mountain. That road gains much more elevation as it goes towards the mountain. Luckily the tire tracks went on that road as well. Going uphill was a little harder and I could feel my legs were starting to get tired, but walking in the tire tracks helped. It got much harder as I turned onto the road that ends at the trailhead. There were no tire tracks on that road, and with the uphill hike my legs were getting tired, even with only about 1 foot of snow. This was the last mile to the viewpoint at the top of the cliff.
After 3.75 hours of hiking I finally made it to the top of the cliff. The elevation is around 1,520 feet. The time and effort to get there was worth it. Clear blue skies, with not a cloud in sight. :) The total elevation gain to get to this point from my vehicle was around 960 feet.
I stayed at the viewpoint for 1 hour, having my lunch and enjoying the view. For the most part it was quiet, but I could hear machinery off in the distance part of the time. I guess there must've been a logging operation with someone working on a Sunday.
The hike back to my vehicle was a little easier, but I could feel it in my legs. The elevation gain going back was around 380 feet.
The total hike was 7 hours, going almost 11 miles, with a total elevation gain of around 1,340 feet. During the entire time I never saw another person.
This was the longest snowshoe hike I've ever done, and without the tire tracks on the road I'm not sure I'd be able to go that distance if I had to break trail for that many miles. The snow really wasn't deep, but on that final 1 mile to the viewpoint where I had to break trail, it was a little bit of a challenge.
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