In the spring and late fall, the heat of your horse is a welcome advantage. Not now. We are all a little cranky and I have no desire to push my horse up into hot, smoky exposed trails, so we can all roast in the sun and lust after bony cool mountain creeks. So, we try to stay low, in the shade, where there might be water and things might not heat up so quickly.
Up Bass Creek Road, out of Stevensville, lies Larry’s Creek Loop. There is a lovely trailer parking area, kept clean with provided rakes and bins and complete with a mounting block. Yes, it’s horse friendly—but not overrun, on this day at least.
Getting an early start, we followed the southernmost trail out of the parking lot and walked along an irrigation stream, still alive with water. Views of rolling meadows and old barns unfolded to our right, while sections of the trail became more crowded with overgrowth. Occasionally, we stopped and gave the horses time to decide that the small bridges we needed to cross were okay—even if they couldn’t see around the bend beyond them and they could hear the water but not see it.
The trail began a steady climb, perfect for gaiting and we obliged, floating along in the shade and remarking on the faint smell of fall in the air. Eventually, we took a sharp turn up to the left and began a steeper climb that took us into open woodland that had certainly been nipped by fall. Reds and coppers rose from the ground and shone brilliantly in the climbing sun.
Crossing the main road and a couple of other trails, we ascended steep narrow switchbacks, the packed soil of the trail still black and cool. The horses barely broke a sweat, and I only pulled my hair back briefly, before we began descending into cooler territory again.
We could have spent the whole day out there—with many trails criss-crossing, you can make up as many loops as you like and still find shade and water for resting. But alas, we had work to do—so it turned out to be a great way to spend the morning. A day in itself, where horses were better than wishes.