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BY TERRY WARD
7 Best Horseback Riding Trails Across The U.S.
The world looks pretty spectacular when your view is gazing out between a horse’s ears from on high. From Puerto Rico to Alaska and across the lower 48, we’ve scoured the land (and, in some cases, the oceans, too) for the best horseback riding trails in the U.S. with scenic vistas and unforgettable adventures in the saddle.
1. Vieques, Puerto Rico
The Esperanza Riding Company leads thrilling rides on the island of Vieques, where wild horses roam free and you can saddle up on a Paso Fino horse. Brought to the Caribbean from Spain, the breed is known for its smooth gait and is well-suited for first-time riders. Two-hour loops take you ambling through the island’s open meadows, up hillsides, and along beaches — including a black-sand beach that cannot be reached by car.
The scent of briny sea air and views of salt marshes aflutter with windblown grasses lend a deep sense of place when you set out by horseback atop a Belgian, Percheron, or quarter horse on Jekyll Island, located off the coast of Southern Georgia. Golden Isles Carriage and Trail at Three Oaks Farm takes riders on beach, sunset, and even moonlight rides that wind through the maritime forest and culminate with a ride along the island’s famous Driftwood Beach.
Channel your inner cowgirls and boys with Sonoran Desert backdrops home to the largest cacti in the United States at Saguaro National Park, where giant saguaros flourish. The wranglers at All Around Trail Horses at Saguaro Stables give guests the full western experience with lots of local lore and incredible views during four-hour adventures or sunset rides through the national park’s rolling terrain. The cacti look particularly festive during the flowering season, from late April into early June, when the Saguaro Cactus blossom (Arizona’s state flower) erupts in yellow and white pom pom-like blooms.
Ferry access to this magical barrier island across the Calibogue Sound from Hilton Head in southernmost South Carolina is included when you book a trail ride package with Daufuskie Trail Rides in Daufuskie Island. Beach lovers can opt for rides along Haig Point’s pristine beach while history buffs might like historic horseback rides past landmarks like the First Union African Baptist School (the oldest building on the island, which dates to the late 19th century) and the historic two-room Mary Fields School, originally built for the island’s Black children in the 1930s and where author Pat Conroy once taught.
Stay Here With RCI:Coral Sands Resort #6736, plus more than 40 other Hilton Head Island resorts to choose from (20 minutes to ferry terminal)
5. Fruita, Colorado
Jackrabbits, flowering cacti, and collared lizards are just a sampling of what you might spot during a trail ride with Rimrock Adventures through iconic Western Colorado landscapes within the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, just west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Look forward to spectacular views of arches and sandstone canyons during 1-, 2-, and 3-hour rides catering to riders of all abilities.
Rolling farmland, wide meadows and views of the Appalachian Mountains and French Broad River make a horseback ride in Marshall, North Carolina a particular pleasure. You can saddle up on a big Belgian horse during morning or afternoon trail rides with Sandy Bottom Trail Rides, about 30 minutes by car north of Asheville. Families particularly love the three-hour rides to Little Pine Gem Mine, on the ranch’s property, where you can dig for gem-quality garnets and bring home any treasures you unearth.
Of the many ways to experience the beauty of the last frontier, riding on horseback through Alaska’s wilds is one of the most thrilling. Trail rides with Alaska Horse Adventures bring you so close to nature you can smell it as you ride through open woods towering with cottonwood trees and traverse windswept beaches along the Knik River, a glacier for a backdrop as your horse plods through the shallow icy water. Keep your eyes open for moose, white swans and more along the way.