Starting Saturday, horses will no longer be allowed on trails in Haw Ridge Park in Oak Ridge.
Horses have significantly damaged trails, especially the small, narrow ones common in the park, a city press release said. The animals have eroded trails, left manure piles, and damaged bridge and boardwalk structures, the release said.
The decision to ban horses followed a comprehensive evaluation by the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Advisory Board, the release said. The board concluded that horse riding is inconsistent with the overall goals of the park, and earlier this year, the board recommended that horses be banned from Haw Ridge Park for now.
The release said the park’s bridge and boardwalk structures were built by volunteers to withstand foot and bicycle traffic, but they have not held up to horse traffic.
“Attempts have been made to manage horses by restricting their traffic to wider trails,” the release said. “However, these repeated efforts have been unsuccessful.”
It also said that most trail maintenance in Haw Ridge Park is performed by volunteers, but horse riders have not routinely participated in the work in recent years, “despite the adverse impacts of horse travel on the trails.”
The release said Haw Ridge Park will continue to serve hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and wildlife viewing.
Horse riders can continue to use the Norris Watershed, Frozen Head State Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife management areas, the release said.
For more information, contact the Oak Ridge Recreation and Parks Department at (865) 425-3450.