California offers gorgeous, diverse scenery for horseback riding, including sandy beaches, redwood forests, and urban parks. There are some incredible national and state parks in the state as well that you can enjoy on horseback — the best way to enjoy the outdoors in our opinion. Here are our suggestions for where to go horseback riding throughout California.
California is known for its miles of Pacific coastline so it makes sense to take advantage of the glorious beaches. Mendocino county is a great location for horseback riding as horses are allowed on many beaches (unlike many beaches in the Los Angeles area).
1. Ten Mile Beach
Image courtesy of Visit California
If beautiful beach scenery sounds appealing, Ten Mile Beach may be what you have been craving. Ricochet Ridge Ranch in Fort Bragg offers beach rides and multiple packages to choose from. Beach riders enjoy this scenic beach with lovely dune grasses. The area is on the Pacific gray whale migration route, so if you’re there from December to April, bring your binoculars. Ricochet Ridge Ranch also offers rides through the redwood forests.
2. Morro Strand State Beach
Image courtesy of Visit California
Located in-between San Francisco and Los Angeles is the scenic area of Morro Strand State Beach. All are welcome on this beach, including horses. Bring your own horse, or Outback Trail Rides has got you covered.
3. Border Field State Park
If you’re seeking a glorious beach in southern California to go horseback riding, Border Field State Park is a great option. Surfside Ranch offers guided tour rides on the beach. It’s one of the limited number of beaches in the southern California area allowing equestrians to ride and you can bring your own horse as well.
Los Angeles Area
The urban sprawl of Los Angeles is known for Hollywood glamor, so you might not realize that it’s also a thriving equestrian community. Here are some of the popular places to ride in the Los Angeles area.
4. Griffith Park
Image courtesy of Visit California
If you’re in the downtown Los Angeles or Hollywood area, Griffith Park is a great place to go horseback riding. It’s also within an hour from Disneyland and the Santa Monica Pier so it’s reasonably accessible from the areas surrounding Los Angeles as well.
Griffith Park has 6.5 miles of urban wilderness and over 4,200 acres with three stables to choose from. You are also able to bring your own horse to this park. It’s on the east end of the Santa Monica Mountains and though some of the park is landscaped, most of it is mountain wilderness with lots of riding trails to choose from. You can ride with views of the famous Hollywood sign, or go deep into the mountain woods.
5. Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center
Image courtesy of Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center
If you’re near the Orange County beach cities like Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, or Huntington Beach or near Disneyland, the Huntington Central Park Equestrian Center (HCPEC) is a great option for you. It is located on 25 acres of land in Orange County, only two miles from the beach.
Horse Play Rentals offers guided trail rides through the rural hills in this area and they also offer trainers and lessons. HCPEC has over 150 acres of public trails so you can bring your own horse, and boarding facilities are also available.
6. Will Rogers State Historic Park
Situated in the Pacific Palisades area, an easy distance from Santa Monica and Malibu, is the Will Rogers State Historic Park. This park was once the home of the famed 1930s humorist, Will Rogers. Now people can visit the property to enjoy it as he once did. Riding lessons and guided trail rides are available through Will Rogers Trail Rides and people are welcome to bring their horse to the park for day-use as well.
State and National Parks
There are many state and national parks throughout California offering horseback riding through different types of terrain. Here are some of the most popular parks.
7. Russian Gulch State Park
If you want to bring your own horse to the Mendocino area north of San Francisco, Russian Gulch State Park is the place to go. With a number of designated horse trails to choose from, including open coast and shady forest, this park offers a great variety to choose from. It also has a stunning 36-foot waterfall, one of the highlights of the park.
8. Mount Tamalpais State Park
Located around 40 miles north of San Francisco, Mount Tamalpais State Park offers majestic rides through the redwood forest. Horses are allowed on the fire roads throughout the park, and there is horse camping offered as well for groups with tent camping. It’s a beautiful park worth visiting.
9. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Two national parks nestled in the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains offer horseback riding: Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These parks are situated side-by-side and offer a number of roads and trails through the forests and meadows. There are two stables offering guided trail rides in Kings Canyon National Park, Grant Grove Stables and Cedar Grove Pack Station. Day rides, as well as overnight and multi-day rides, are available. You can also bring your own horse into either park, and they offer a handy guide with a trail map.
10. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the country and it’s worth seeing this glorious place by horseback. There are a number of stables and riding companies to choose from, including Wawona Stable and Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures. You are allowed to bring your own horses into the park on certain trails. The park is at a high elevation, so be sure your horse is acclimated to this environment before you set out on a ride.
California is a popular state for equestrians, and it’s easy to see why. It offers scenic variety from beautiful Pacific beaches, to urban parks, to beautiful forests and meadows, and of course, to the redwood forests. You can’t go wrong bringing your horse for a ride or taking advantage of the many stables available.
As you’re preparing for your next riding adventure, be sure to check out our horse tack and riding apparel offerings to make your ride more enjoyable.
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