by Ken Carmichael
Are you looking for a new place to ride your horse and camp? The BLM ground at Escure Ranch is a good choice. This is about 12,000 acres of open range land 20 miles south of Sprague Washington.
What will you find when you get there? As I write this the equestrian trailhead has a concrete outhouse, equestrian water, 2 corrals, highlines for 7 horses and a manure bunker. There is a wide open, large, flat area to camp. What is coming? Ponderosa chapter of Back Country Horsemen in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management is adding new features to the trailhead. These include 8 corrals, 3 tables and 2 fire rings. Our projected work party date is April 17-18.
Now I am going to provide the reasons why the Ponderosa chapter is leading the way for more improvements in the equestrian campground. Let’s start with where you will ride as you cover this open range land. Here are six unique rides.
The falls – This is a nice short ride to loosen up the horse’s legs after being in the trailer. Especially pretty in the spring when Rock Creek is running high.
Southeast loop – After entering the ranch buildings turning south eventually you will turn east dropping back down to Rock Creek. This requires crossing Rock Creek so best in the fall. There is always deep grass here. Ride along the southern border to the SE corner of the ranch. After riding north along the east fence, we drop down to the trail leading to the falls. This can be an exploratory ride.
Southwest loop – After going through the corrals we turn south through the middle of the ranch. This is a longer ride over flatter ground but encountering some deep draws before seeing the ranch buildings at the south end of the ranch. We touch the southwest corner of the ranch before winding our way north then east back to camp. Best done in the fall as with a wet year there can be some wetlands to navigate around. Take a big lunch and look for gates.
Windmill – This is an easy ride west out of camp toward an old windmill. On the way you can find Wall Lake and maybe run across Turtle Lake. Come back the same way or lengthen the ride and go north a ways.
Northwest loop – This ride takes us west out of camp then northwest to the corner of the ranch and the Palouse to Cascade Trail. We ride west along the north boundary and with some skill find our way down to Rock Creek. This is exploratory. Here is a good lunch break with water, grass and a place to put our feet in the creek. It is a nice ride back along the west side of the creek until we need to climb again to enter the ranch headquarters from another angle. There is an alternative of crossing the creek and climbing up the hill to the east.
The mounds – As we drove into camp we saw mounds to our right. These appear pointed but by climbing to the top we find a wide-open space for riding and a fantastic view. This ride puts your breast collar to good use but think of the view. And now we have touched all four corners of the ranch.
If those six rides do not satisfy your desire to explore then just pack a big lunch and head out of camp. There are miles of gullies, draws and open land to explore. The ranch has some fences so expect to get off your horse to open (and close) gates, especially as you navigate through the holding pens near the ranch headquarters.
With so many places to ride it is worth the effort to camp at the Escure. Did I mention that there are very few trees, and none in camp? Here comes the pitch. We can use help with this project. BLM is going to match our funding for materials and the Ponderosa chapter will do all the labor. If you, or a friend, want to contribute we welcome your support. Donations can be sent to Ponderosa Chapter PO Box 1184 Airway Heights, WA 99001. Of course, I am always ready to talk about the Escure (509) 466-2225. Be safe, enjoy riding and see you at the Escure.