Summer is the best time of the year to fully enjoy all our beautiful state has to offer. And there is no better way to do this than by spending all day astride a horse and all night sleeping under the stars. Thankfully for those of living in Lewis County, we don’t have to go very far to camp out with our trusted trail mounts (a personal favorite of mine is Margaret McKinney). The following is a list of close-by campgrounds with equine amenities. Don’t forget to check as many of these sites require or strongly encourage the use of weed-free hay.
Located just a bit north of the Lewis County border off I-5 exit 95, the Margaret McKenny Campground is located in the stunning Capitol Forest and affords campers the chance to ride on more than 25 miles of trails. The campground has five dedicated equine camp sites open May 1-November 30. These sites include corrals and places for highlines. There are restrooms available, but you will have to haul-in water, or carry it out of nearby the creek (no horse access). A Discover Pass is required.
The Cody Horse Camp near Randle in the North Gifford Pinchot National Forest was built with equestrians in mind. In fact, the Lewis County Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Washington (LCBCH) helped build this camp and continues to maintain it. It’s open when the snow melts through the summer season. It boosts 16 pull-through sites with a mounting assist ramp and a water trough. No corrals are available. Dense trees make it a bit hard to set up portable corrals. There is potable water and restrooms. The trails from here are stunning with views of Mount Adams, meadows, forest and creeks. There’s no fee.
The Keenes Horse Camp is also located in the North Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and the LCBCH helped build this camp as well and still maintains it. It opens as soon as the snow melts and stays open through summer. The best part about this camp is that it is exclusive for equine use. It also has access to the Mount Adams Wilderness area for plenty of scenic rides. No water is available, but there is a restroom. Camping is $14 a site with $7 for an extra vehicle. Senior discounts are available.
Located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Green River Horse Camp was also built with the help of the LCBCH and they still maintain it. A bit more of a rustic camping spot, this campground has no potable water and just one restroom. It’s smaller too, with just enough space for two trailers or three standard-sized vehicles. It has some amazing trails, including views of Mount Saint Helens, Mount Margaret and Mount Adams. For water, the Norway Pass Trailhead is your best bet. It’s five miles up on Road 26.
This nice campsite for equine use only is located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Open early June through September (weather permitting), the eight sites do have hitching posts, but no corrals. It has restrooms and potable water. Sites are spacious and private. The Walupt Lake Horse Camp is surrounded by the interesting Goat Rocks Wilderness and Indian Heaven Wildness, with plenty of trails that afford many days of fun and exploration. The views of Mount Adams are spectacular. However, there is no lake access. The cost is $16 for a single site, $30 for multiple sites and extra vehicles are $9. Senior discounts are available.
Just a bit east of Lewis County is the White Pass Horse Camp. It’s worth the drive because it’s an access point to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail #2000. Located in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, the campground has six sites for horses. It also has hitching rails, stock ramp and restroom. There is enough parking for 15 equine trailers. It’s open spring through summer, weather permitting. Camping is $5 per vehicle or you can use a recreation pass.
Located northeast of Lewis County near Mount Rainier National Park, this campground is for equine use only. It’s open spring through summer. It has 20 campsites, picnic tables, hitching rails and restrooms, but no corrals. There are two trail heads that connect to dozens (65-plus miles) of trails for exploring, including trails in the Elbe Hills and Tahoma State Forests through the Nicholson Horse Trail System. The scenery is gorgeous with deep forests, ferns and no steep drop-offs or shale.
With all these wonderful options, our beautiful area makes it easy to spend the summer outdoors with our horses. Be sure to check the park sites before heading out in case of closures. Since these camps do not have reservations, leaving early before the weekend is the best bet to get a site. Can only do a day ride? These camps are great for day-use sites as well.