We know what you’re thinking: Wow! All these equestrian vacations sound amazing! It’s too bad I’m broke! Amanda Ronan offers this alternative.
With today’s struggling economy everyone is looking for small vacations that provide big rewards. National forests are a truly untapped resource for vacationers and day-trippers alike. Today, I trailered my two horses to Ebenezer Park, located on Lake Sam Rayburn, near Jasper,
This park is labeled an “equestrian campsite” and truly is. The nearest boat ramp is over four miles away making the area pristine and quiet. Nestled in the Angelina National Forest, the park consisted of thirteen camp areas, each with two 12×12 horse corrals. The entire campsite was shaded by towering pine trees. Each camp area had electrical and water hookups. There were also full restrooms and showers available.
We decided not to camp this trip. One, my idea of camping is sleeping in the living room on the couch versus my plush pillow-top bed. Two, the weatherman predicted a frigid February night with a low of 36 degrees. That may not sound cold to you northern folks, but to us hot-blooded southern gals… that’s cold! Anyway, after a bit of confusion about where “day-use” people were supposed to park (it’s an unmarked grassy hill just north of the campsite), we finally headed out on the trails.
The first half mile consisted of a hard-packed sand road. My barefoot horses handled the terrain easily without shoes or boots. After a few “this way or that way” moments we crested a sand dune and finally spotted the lake! The terrain from that point was a bit more challenging. We went up and down sand dunes, over a few fallen trees, down a steep descent, and then finally made it to the beach. The lake sand was a bit “stickier” than ocean-type beach sand, so I chose only to walk my horses, but others might be braver and gallop through the water! We continued along the beach enjoying the lapping waves on one side and a spectacular view of a cliff on the other. My husband, uncommonly fearless on his bicycle contraption, actually rode down a few of the cliffs! My daughter ran along the waterline searching for shells and playing with our dog, Delilah. Halfway down the beach we found a fantastic rock ledge that provided a spectacular 180 degree view of the lake.
All in all the trail was a leisurely 3.8 miles. After circling a bit in the water, grazing on a bit of lakeside grass, and posing for pictures we ended up riding for about three hours. It felt like the perfect length of time for a relaxing afternoon getaway. The cost, not including gas, $4 for the park entrance fee. Money well spent.