As Published in the July 2012, issue of Honest Horses MagazineClick Here for a PDF file (2MB) of the article
Jack Brook Horse Camp
At Sam McDonald County Park
By Robert Eversole of TrailMeister.com
San Mateo County, near San Francisco, is home to what some have called “the finest horse camp in California.” While the term “finest” is certainly subjective, Jack Brook Horse Camp is really, really nice.
Jack Brook is nestled in quiet, cool giant redwood forests with ferns and cool streams that meander through Sam McDonald County Park. It’s no surprise that this a very popular destination point for horse and mule riders alike
Although at 850 acres, it’s not a large park, the trails here connect to the much larger, 8,020-acre Pescadero Creek Park that lies directly to the south. All told, there are well over 50 miles of horse and mule friendly trails accessible from the horse camp, making this a wonderful place to ride and camp with your favorite equine partner.
Campers will find that the Jack Brook Horse Camp is extremely popular for good reason. It’s very well appointed with corrals and wash racks for equines. For the human part of the team, the accommodations are even better. There are restrooms with showers, electrical hook ups, and an outdoor kitchen complete with a shared refrigerator and microwave.
Riders will encounter a variety of environments as they pass through the area with myriads of ferns in the moist and shady ravines, open grassy knolls along the ridges offering views of the Pacific Ocean, and cool shady forests that are home to gorgeous redwoods.
The terrain is steep, with elevations ranging from 400 feet along Alpine Creek to over 1,300 feet at the highest points. With this amount of elevation change, and the attendant switchbacks on some of the trails, your mount should be in shape on arrival.
One note of caution: the road into Jack Brook is one way in most spots, very narrow, and there are no turnouts to allow other vehicles to pass. For this reason, the parks department has instituted a unique solution to the problem: driving restrictions by direction and time. Traffic heading up the steep, dirt and gravel road into Jack Brook travels on the hour, while traffic leaving the camp departs on the half hour.
A horse camp as fine as Jack Brook doesn’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and determination to maintain the trails as well as the campground. Prominent among the various volunteer groups that help keep trails open for you, is the Ohlone Riders Unit of the Backcountry Horsemen of California. This hard-charging group puts in numerous hours every year, keeping trails open for stock use both here at Jack Brook and across the region.
About the author
Robert Eversole is a trail-riding enthusiast, who is active in the equine community. He’s a registered instructor with PATH International, working with individuals with special needs. He also serves on many boards of trail advocacy groups, and he’s the creator of TrailMeister.com, a website dedicated to trail riders and campers.
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