Located within the Shotgun Creek Recreation Area, Horse Rock Ridge is a short, moderate hike with great views of the Willamette Valley and the Three Sisters Mountains. The hike starts on a gravel road, climbing over a pile of rocks and through a chain-link fence. Once through the gate the trail winds through the forest with still another layer of protection in the form of dozens of fallen logs. All of these are in place to protect the sensitive meadows from the devastation OHV or other vehicles would have on the area. The Bureau of Land Management has designated Horse Rock as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern and a Research Natural Area in 1995 to protect the area, so please tread lightly and stay on the trail.
After the first mile of wandering through the forest, the trail emerges onto an open, rocky meadow. Keep to the upper trail to help with erosion. In the spring the meadows are full of wildflowers, and in the fall the changing leaves add bursts of colors to the landscape. Toward the end of the hike (1.5 miles), look to the east for views of the Three Sisters and Mount Jefferson. At the end you can find an exposed basalt dike that shoots up out of the ground with a small cave at the top. The views are amazing, and the surroundings can be relaxing, but depending on the time of year the sounds of gunfire and OHVs can echo throughout the valley. Beyond the cave the trail continues back into the forest, past a radio tower, and spits out on to what appears to be a logging road surrounded by clearcuts.
The trailhead is unmarked, but it is easy enough to find if you stick to the main paved road and then stay to the right at most intersections. Look for a sign stating“No Off-Highway Vehicles Beyond This Point” and go about a mile farther where a gravel road spurs off to the left. This is the trailhead. There is limited parking and no amenities, but there are restrooms and water located at the other day use areas within the Shotgun Creek Recreation Area.