Turtleback Mountain Preserve is open to equestrians, bicyclists, hikers

Horses and their riders queue up at the north trailhead of the Turtleback Mountain Preserve.  - Theresa Simendinger
Horses and their riders queue up at the north trailhead of the Turtleback Mountain Preserve.
— image credit: Theresa Simendinger

Equestrians from San Juan and Lopez islands ferried over to join Orcas riders and the San Juan County Land Bank on April 11 to celebrate the reopening of some trails in the stunning Turtleback Mountain Preserve.

Mountain bikes may use the trails on even-numbered days, and equestrians may ride on odd-numbered days. Hikers have open access.

Many islanders contributed time and money through the San Juan Preservation Trust to obtain the Turtleback Mountain Preserve as public land. This inaugural ride, hosted by the Land Bank, was graciously led by Ruthie Dougherty, Land Bank Orcas steward, and Orcas equestrian Alicia Miller.

"I am just so happy to be riding these trails again," Miller said. "I have been riding here with so many friends since I was a child, about 20 years now."

The group met at the North Trailhead and rode several trails allocated to equestrians. Dougherty asked the group to suggest improvements. Several riders suggested opening any of the fire roads that provide the amazing views of the water and surrounding islands

Turtleback is famous for.

Thirteen riders enjoyed a great ride on the beautiful mountain.

A day earlier, the Land Bank hosted a guided trail ride with Dan Christopherson and Kaj Enderlein to introduce mountain bikers to the route, and fundamentals of mountain bike trail etiquette and safety. The ride was five to 10 miles with some steep terrain.

For more information, call San Juan County Land Bank, 378-4402.

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