North Carolina offers gorgeous scenery for horseback riding: lush green sloping hills, dense and rich forests, stunning waterfalls and rivers. And there are many wonderful state and national parks to explore in this region. What could be more special than enjoying one of the most magnificent areas in the United States on the back of a horse? Here are a few suggestions for how to find the best places for horseback riding in North Carolina, and our personal recommendations.
How to Find Great Horseback Riding in North Carolina
There are great horse-riding trails all over North Carolina, and especially in the western part of the state. If you plan to share this experience with your own horse, try searching “horseback riding trails near me” and see what comes up. Or, ask local businesses. At The Farm House, we’d love to help you with all of your equine needs, including recommendations on places to ride.
If you’re looking for stables offering tours, TripAdvisor is a great site that ranks places based on reader reviews. And of course, you can always ask a local.
Favorite Horseback Riding Trails in NC
North Carolina is an equestrian paradise featuring areas with thick forest, hills, lakes and waterfalls, and some level fields as well. There are horseback-riding trails available for every experience level. Some of the most popular regions in this area are around the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Great Smoky Mountains, and the state and national forests in the area. There are so many options to choose from, and we have detailed some of the most popular.
1. Asheville Horseback Riding
Asheville is a fun city to visit that offers many different areas for horseback riding. One of the most popular spots to ride is in the Great Smoky Mountains. This area provides stunning scenery and mountain trail riding. The terrain is dramatic, varied, and rugged in parts. Grab a park trail map at any visitor center to see which trails are designated for equestrian use and to get the list of rules and regulations. Off-trail riding is not permitted in the park.
Another great place around an hour from Asheville is DuPont State Forest. This park has a loop that winds around four of the major waterfalls in the park. The trail is well marked and there are maps along the route, though you can also get one from a ranger. The loop takes around two hours depending on how many stops you make and you can connect to other trails to extend your time. One thing to note is that you will cross a large stream, either directly or on a wooden bridge. You’ll want to be sure you are accustomed to this terrain if you take your own horse.
There are miles of horse-riding trails to choose from along the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway. America’s favorite drive area is also a popular spot for equestrians. Seeing this beautiful area on horseback is an incredible way to enjoy the stunning scenery.
A popular area is Moses Cone Park, offering gradual trails that wind through forests to an area with lakes. There are 24 miles of trails that are open for horseback riding all year long. The other area open to horseback riding is the Doughton Park Hiking Trails on the Grassy Gap Fire Road.
3. Carolina Foothills
This area in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains stretches from Tyron, NC to Landrum, SC, and is truly an equestrian haven. The Carolina Foothills area offers something for everyone with miles of riding trails meandering through the woods or running through rolling fields. Many of the trails are on private land offered for public use with a membership to the association dedicated to maintaining the grounds.
A popular area to ride is the Foothills Equestrian Nature Center (FENCE), a 380-acre area in Tyron dedicated to the preservation of the land. There are six miles of riding trails as well as an equestrian center and stable. There are also over 100 miles of private trails available for public use maintained by The Foothills Equestrian Trails Association (FETA). This association is run by the citizens of Tyron dedicated to preserving the natural spaces and equestrian lifestyle and offers the largest trail system in the area.
4. Pisgah National Forest
The Pisgah Ranger District, known as the “land of waterfalls,” is another popular place to go horseback riding for its scenic views and miles of trails. It’s a short drive from Asheville, Waynesville, Brevard, and Hendersonville. There are a lot of recreational activities and it’s a favorite for horseback riding. You can bring your own horse or there are a number of stables in the area available.
There are many trails to choose from and many of them have cold mountain streams to cool off on a hot summer day and plenty of areas for camping. Some favorites are the Laurel Creek Trail which meanders along a creek then climbs a ridge, and the North Mills River Area Horse Trails starting in the Wash Creek area. Many of the trails are rugged so shoes are recommended if you bring your own horse. And they are multiple-use trails so you will share them with mountain bikers, hikers, and trout fishermen. It’s a good idea to make sure your horse is accustomed to seeing others.
North Carolina is a special place that’s ideal for exploring on horseback. Let us know which area you choose!
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