Tuesday, May 9, 2017

MacDougal Gap

This hidden gem is part of the National Recreation Trail.  It is easily one of the best trails I have ever ridden.  It is certainly worth doing if you are ever in the area.  It is reasonably close to Jackson and Pinedale. It is a barefoot horse's dream.  No shoes or boots required (once you get out of the rocky parking lot.) We only rode about 2.9 miles in then back out.  We took a side spur up toward the mountain where we could see a trail winding up.  That was not part of the Recreation trail, but a side path to ascend Mt. McDougal.  On a future trip, we hope to ride further north on the trail.  One of the impressive things was its seclusion.  We only saw one other hiker.  WARNING:  The deer flies were horrible! They seem to disappear after about 7 pm.  I heard from locals that August is a better time to avoid them.  Be prepared with plenty of repellent for you and your horses.

(Click on any photo to open enlarged images.  Additional photography credits: Teisha and Oakley Preece)

Approximately 4.5 hours from Ogden area, Utah.  The turn off is just south of Daniel, Wyoming. It has a sign that says "Cottonwood-Ryegrass" You can google map for "Mt. McDougal". There are a few intersections.  Keep to the left until you get to N. Cottonwood, then turn right (west).  It is about 1.2 hours from Pinedale and 2.5 hours from Jackson.

Doesn't look too promising here, but we're headed towards those mountains in the distance.

About 25 miles of dirt/gravel road.  Not too bad, could do 20-40 MPH in most places.

Getting closer to the forest.

Entering Bridger National Forest.  Dispersed camping is allowed here within 300 feet of any established roadway.  The camping is "No trace"  of course.  No restroom or water at any trailhead.

Getting closer.  Lots of cattle down lower.

Trailhead parking.  The worst rocks are here.  Once you're out of the parking lot, it's easy going.

Out and back ride: 5.87 miles.  Minimum altitude=8,409'; Maximum altitude=9,767'.  Ascent/Descent=1380'; Trail conditions 95% soft dirt, 5% rocky or water crossing

Shady forests...

Open meadows...

Snow patches...This was early July.

One kind of steep part, but not bad at all.

Incredible mountain vistas.

Several little stream crossings.

Wildflowers galore...

Almost back to the parking lot.

Heading back out to the highway.

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