Long Prairie Ridge Loop in the Sandy McNabb area is touted for all users, but is primarily a 6.8 km equestrian loop out of the equestrian parking lot and camping area. The loop is not all new trail: it’s a mix of new trails, old hiking trails and ski trails, and crosses Hwy. 546 twice. The section south of the Hwy. among the Sandy McNabb ski trails is flat walking in pine forest and a little boring to the hiker. So forget the official loop!
It’s the section north of the hwy. that’s of interest. Probably lots of you have walked Long Prairie Ridge between the two legs of Long Prairie Loop ski trail and know what a scenic ridge it is. Well, now we have a well-constructed trail along it. I particularly like the way the trail in the meadows has not been scraped down to the dirt, but has been left as grass.
The best place to start is the Sheep River park office at the head of Station Road. Start at the sign “No equestrians.” Once you leave the complexity of fences behind, there’s red markers to guide you onto the trail and trail maps with the new trail marked on in red. Strangely, there’s no info about the new trail and how to get onto it at the kiosk near the winter gate or at the park office kiosk (which is closed on weekends). So when we hiked it recently a little guess work was involved.
Other comments: It’s a good trail for fall and spring when more exciting trails to the west are out of commission. It lies the right side of the winter gate. It has value as a novice trail and is likely to become as popular as the Foran Grade loop down the road.