Planning Blog
Ride Data
Note on the name
Mission Statement
The Route
The Team
Planning Blog
Back to OSTTREK homepage
Our facebook page is our blog, you can find it at: Backcountry Horsemen Old Spanish Trail Trek

February 7.
I met with our film crew, Ned and Benedicte in Santa Barbara.  They are new to film making, but have a great deal of knowledge.  Ned is a very experienced packer.  I met also with two more potential riders, both experienced outdoorsmen and packers who are very excited about the ride. 

A possibility I am considering; I have had 15 people contact me who are interested in riding the trail. No one aside from my wife has considered driver/campstaff.  It may be that the riders will have to share riding and driving. We shall see how that plays out over the next 9 months.

I have been contacted by members of BCH Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico who are interested in assisting and riding portions. BCH members are very welcome to ride with us for sections, but will need to provide their own support.  We have been offered camping locations, hot shower locations, the potential for barbecues.

The planning is on track, the major hang up is dollars,  my search for sponsors, grants, and donations continues, if you can help with that, we would greatly appreciate it.

I have reworked the budget after the meeting with the film makers. I increased the dollars needed to $35,000 $10,000 to cover film costs.

I am solidifying my thinking on lesson plans for students studying American or Southwest history, We will have a film, website, and print instructional materials. I aim to do this at two levels, elementary and high school.

The "Three Trails Conference" will be held in Santa Fe September 17-20 2015, I have been asked if we could finish our ride into Santa Fe at that time.  I think that is doable.  The three national historic trails are the Old Spanish Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, and the El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro
Santa Fe emerged as the hub of the overland continental trade network linking Mexico and United States markets—a network that included not only the Old Spanish Trail, but also the Santa Fe Trail and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

During the colonial years, New Mexico was tied to the outside world by a single thoroughfare that descended the Rio Grande valley from north of Santa Fe, dropped through the natural gate at El Paso, and continued to Mexico City, some twelve hundred miles to the south. This route of commerce and travel was known as El Camino Real, which meant Royal Road or King’s Highway. Of the great highways leading north, this was the oldest, having been extended by segments throughout the 16th century. Some of El Camino Real had its earliest beginnings as Indian trails. Later, sections of the route were traversed by Spanish conquistadors and colonizers. Finally, with the coming of Juan de Onate's expedition in 1598, the full length of the trail was defined. During the subsequent 300 years, it witnessed increasingly varied traffic as quantities of trade goods and representatives of different cultures traveled it, bringing with them currents of change that would forever alter the face of this land. In 2000, Congress authorized 404 miles as a National Historic Trail.
•    Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Quality woolen goods were transported to Los Angeles, and California- bred horses and mules were brought back to Santa Fe. It took the vision and courage of Mexican trader Antonio Armijo to lead the first commercial caravan from Abiquiú, New Mexico, to Los Angeles late in 1829. Over the next 20 years, Mexican and American traders continued to ply variants of the route that Armijo pioneered, frequently trading with Indian tribes along the way. And it was from a combination of the indigenous footpaths, early trade and exploration routes, and horse and mule routes that a trail network known collectively as the Old Spanish Trail evolved. After the United States took control of the Southwest in 1848 other routes to California emerged, and use of the Old Spanish Trail sharply declined. In 2002, Congress authorized 2,700 miles as a National Historic Trail. For more information visit
•    Santa Fe National Historic Trail
Between 1821 and 1880, the Santa Fe Trail was primarily a commercial highway connecting Missouri and Santa Fe, New Mexico. From 1821 until 1846, it was an international commercial highway used by Mexican and American traders. In 1846, the Mexican-American War began. The Army of the West followed the Santa Fe Trail to invade New Mexico. When the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war in 1848, the Santa Fe Trail became a national road connecting the United States to the new southwest territories. Commercial freighting along the trail continued, including considerable military freight hauling to supply the southwestern forts. The trail was also used by stagecoach lines, thousands of gold seekers heading to the California and Colorado gold fields, adventurers, fur trappers, and emigrants. In 1880 the railroad reached Santa Fe and the trail faded into history. In 1987, Congress authorized 1,203 miles as a National Historic Trail. For more information visit

December 3,  Bill Chaides gave me a great idea, there are horse motels in the west, places where you can stable your horses over night, sleep in your rig, or get a motel nearby.  I have a plan to have the team meet somewhere near Lancaster on the 9th of October to set up for Old Town Los Angeles on the 10th.  Lo and behold, there is a horse motel Windsong Ranch near Lancaster that would work, there is also the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds which is a possibility.

We need lodging also for the night of the 10th near Cajon Pass.  there is another horse motel Winning Ways Ranch in Riverside. Along the trail there are horse motels in Barstow, Las Vegas, Richfield Utah, Cortes, Colorado and Espanola,  New Mexico.  The existence of these places is good news.

December 2.  9 people have contacted me interested in riding the trail. This number will change over the next 10 months, and I reckon in August I will have to make the final team choices.  I am short on drivers and support, I have one committed, I need 4, possibly 5.  I am leaning toward having a dedicated pickup with water, and hay.

I have talked with a couple who may be interested in filming the trip, but as of now, I have no film makers.

November 25, Set the tentative but probable start date, October 9 2014

November 19, 2014,
I contacted the China Ranch Date Farm which is a fine Oasis in the desert southeast of Tecopa. The OST comes down the canyon of the Amargosa River and through the dramatic Amargosa Gorge. The owner will be pleased to have us drop by and sample their famous date shakes, which will be very welcome after riding through the desert.

I have worked on the budget, I think we can do the trip for around $25,000 plus filming costs, which could be over $100,000.  Grants will be imperative.

I have also filled several staff positions.. family, but, pretty sharp folks.

November 17, 2014
I have mapped the entire 1200 mile route using a mapping program. I broke the trail down into approximately 20 mile segments. 20 miles being a reasonable ride per day.  If we ride 5 days and rest 1 and repeat that throughout the trip it will take exactly 60 days.  I plan to split the trip into 2 sections.  Los Angeles to near Salina Utah in October of 2014 and the second section from near Salina Utah to Santa Fe the summer of 2015. I am sure we will get off schedule, and the schedule is a draft at this point, subject to revision.

This mapping also allowed me to determine approximate campsite locations for the entire ride.  Some will be near towns, some will be isolated. I am still working on the start of the actual riding.  The ceremonial start will be at El Pueblo De Los Angeles, however at this time I do not think it safe to ride from there.  It appears that we could start at Cucamonga heading for Cajon Pass.  We will need a camp that night preferrably along the route, but it may require trailering to a camp.  Day 2 looks like Hesperia Lake horse camp, then into the Mojave River to Barstow.  The only other campsite that I have identified as doable is Resting Spring Ranch on Day 11. Otis recently drove a mule drawn wagon to Resting Spring as part of an ETI group.  He told me that it was likely we could stay there.

We have approval from Backcountry Horsemen of America, we can now call this an official trip.

I will contact a BCH unit near Cajon Pass to see what they can do to assist the start, and the first night camp. As of today we have 4 potential riders, and one ground crew driver. 

Volunteers Needed
logistics, fundraising, film makers
Trail Boss: Richard Waller

Important Links:

Back to home page