The trails are definitely marked better then they were in the past.  A few short years ago there was no mapped trail system and little to no trail markings.    

The Shawnee National Forest trail system is an extensive system with variety and a multitude of trails.  The sheer mileage of trails and multiple intersections and options can be challenging for first-time visitors, but it is also what keeps people coming back time and time again.  For example, if there was only one single route to take to get from camp to Crow Knob then it would be ‘easier’ to find.  However, there are several different routes that can be taken, so there are options for longer or shorter routes, more challenging or easier routes, flatter or hillier routes, creekside or highland routes, long level ‘gaiting’ trails or rocky bluffside trails, you get the picture.  

You will be riding in a 280,000 acre National Forest, with literally hundreds of miles of trails.  You will be riding in Wilderness areas, where the riding can be expected to be mentally and physically challenging for you and your horse, but also breathtakingly beautiful. 

As a first-time visitor, you can expect to need to use your map (issued when you check-in) and a compass (or a GPS).  You can NOT expect to just ride out ‘blind’ and cannot expect that every intersection will point you back to camp.  At most trail intersections will be a sign, for example saying that the intersection is trail 496 with trail 493.  Then you will look at your map and find out that you want to take trail 493 heading North to get back to camp, then use your compass to make sure you do head North on 493. 

Hayes Canyon no longer has guide service available, due to the rising cost of insurance required by the Forest Service.  

Hopefully this information makes your expectations realistic.  Come see what keeps visitors returning to the Shawnee year after year from all over the country.