[NOTE: Areas of Camp Far West are sometimes closed for cattle grazing. Best
always to call ahead for this trail ride.]
There are a variety of trails surrounding Camp Far West reservoir, most of them
flat and wide. The trails themselves are suitable for horses or riders beginning
trail work (NOT “beginning to ride”!), with a few idiosyncrasies to take into
account. In summer, the lake is busy with fishermen and boaters; in winter, when
you will see few if any people, cattle graze on the property. Although either
activity would possibly startle an inexperienced horse, the trails are wide and
safe, so a rider with a fairly secure seat and good reflexes can handle either
distraction without falling off a cliff, and come back to the trailer with a
more mature horse. Lots of room to trot or canter, with good footing.
Riding along the water
After parking, face the lake and head around the lake
to the left. The various dirt roads and trails converge into one
lakeside dirt road. Horses are allowed to go around the
cable across the road. Follow the road until it seems to end with the fence
coming to a “V,” with a paved road directly outside, and a pipe corral
for collecting cattle on the right. Look along the fence to your right
and back about 2-300’ you will see a gate through to more trails, still
basically circling the lake. If you wander up
the hillside here and there to try a path, you can always reorient
yourself by coming back to the lake. The trails are maintained for a
while by the cattle and other riders, but if you come to a point where
the trails are questionable, either sloped steeply, deeply muddy, or
otherwise questionable, it’s wise to turn around, as these trails are
irregularly maintained for horses. There are several stream crossings,
with footing packed well by the cattle. Watch for an occasional torn bit
of barbed wire. In spring there are many newborn calves and
protective moms, so steer clear of the cattle.
Camp Far West has a full campground as well as a
horse campground. For
horses, there are tie rails and water troughs. For people, there are
restrooms, picnic tables, a mini-store. The lake is stocked with fish,
there is 24-hr. security. Day use for 2 horses is $10; camping with 2
is $20 per night. The horse campground is sometimes used by non-horse
such as the Scouts. Call 916-408-5037 for information.
Directions: There are at least 2 choices for driving. One is
but involves a long stretch along the section of Hwy. 65 known as “Blood
Alley” for the accidents. This 2-lane speedway is famous for a difficult mix
of farm trucks, speeders, and logging trucks. The other route seems slower,
involves several 90 degree corners, but is more scenic, and probably safer
you drive carefully. Both routes take about 45 minutes from Loomis.
For the straight-but-speeding route: From the Loomis area, take Sierra College Blvd. north to the T at Hwy 193.
Turn left towards Lincoln, and continue until Hwy. 193 ends at Hwy. 65.
(From 80 East, take Hwy. 65 exit towards Lincoln/Marysville.) Go north
through Sheridan, cross the Bear River, then at Wheatland turn right on Main
Street (also marked for Beale Air Force Base). Continue 5 1/2 miles to Camp
Far West Road. Turn right onto Camp Far West Rd., continue 2.2 miles until
this road makes a left (don’t go onto Blackford across the metal bridge over
the dam). Go to the North Recreation Area, l.3 miles to the blue gate, on
of the scenery along the way at CFW
(The South Recreation Area has no horse
facilities.) Proceed to the
mini-store/gatehouse, pay fees, then drive past the day use area, and turn
left toward the campgrounds. Go against the direction of the arrow on the
pavement for a few hundred feet. If the dirt road straight ahead is open, follow
it to the horse campground. If not, at least in winter, choose a site on the
“human” campgrounds on the right.
For the slower, safer, more scenic route:
Turn from Hwy 193 right onto East St (after the traffic light for Ferrari Ranch Road), continue a few blocks until it ends at the
school, then turn right onto 12th St. Shortly, turn left onto McCourtney Rd.
(called Harrison on the right), and follow it 15 miles, with several 90 degree
turns, through farms and a country road. Watch for cattle as you drive, because
the ranchers sometimes herd them across the road. Although they will usually
post a horseman with a warning flag on the road, he is sometimes called to duty
and is momentarily not there when cattle are still crossing. When Camp Far West
Road intersects on the left, continue straight over the metal bridge at the dam,
turn right on CFW Rd, go 1.3 mi to the blue gates, and continue as above.