In this modern, mechanized age, it’s easy to forget the living, breathing beasts of burden Americans used to love so much. Horseback riding allows the every day city dweller to live dormant cowboy dreams and connect with nature directly. Return to the days of cowboy yore at some of the best horseback riding places in the Bay area.
Mar Vista Stables
2152 Skyline Blvd.
Daly City, CA 94015
Price: $40 for 60 min./$50 for 90 min./$60/ 120 min; Pony Rides/ $10 for 10 min.
Hours: Mon to Fri 9 a.m – 5.p.m; Sat to Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Bundle up for a ride along Ocean Beach, San Francisco’s most popular and longest beach, extending from the Cliff House to Fort Funston along the Pacific Ocean. Discover pieces from the wreckage of King Phillip still being unearthed in the sands, and watch for the small western snowy plover, the protected wildlife species that makes its home here in the winter.
Garrod Farms Stables
22647 Garrod Rd.
Saratoga, CA 95070
Price: $45 for a 60-minute trail ride/$27 for 30-minute pony walks/$32 for 30 minutes of arena riding
Ages 8 and older only
Hours: daily – 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Located in the Saratoga foothills just 25 minutes from downtown San Jose, this family owned business has been in operation since 1893. Enjoy traditional California ranch hospitality and guided horseback rides through scenic vineyards and oak chaparral forests on the eastern slopes of the Santa Cruz Mountains. At a 1,000-foot elevation, riders are treated to impressive views of San Francisco Bay and Santa Clara Valley. Special events include wine rides with wine tastings and a mini buffet available on the last Sunday of every month, pony parties, and mommy and me classes.
Miwok Livery Stables
701 Tennessee Valley Rd.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Price: $75 per person
Ages 12 and older only
Hours: daily – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Get back to nature, trail riding in the beautiful Golden Gate National Park where you never know what might make your acquaintance, including deer, jackrabbits, coyote, bobcats, hawks and quail. Before you ride, one of the six full-time instructors, all certified by the American Riding Instructors Association, will brief you on how to ride to ensure a safe and accident-free afternoon. Leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the full experience as the Marincello trail can take up to two hours. Reservations are required.
Related: Best Bay Area Hiking Spots
Five Brooks Stable
8001 Hwy 1
Olema, CA 94950
Price: $40 an hour/$60 for two hours/$100 for three hours/$180 for six hours/$15 pony rides
Hours: daily – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
An alternative to hiking along the scenic Point Reyes National Seashore is enjoying a ride through the area with the whole family. Five Brooks Stable offers novice riders 120 miles of guided trails varying in length from one hour to all day. Take in an afternoon climb over Inverness Ridge and head to Wildcat Beach and Alamere Falls for a picturesque view of the coast. Private rides available.
Western Trail Riding Services
Sunol-Ohlone Regional Park
Sunol, CA 94586
Price: check location
Hours: Tue to Sun – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There’s a wide variety of trails and packages to choose from for both new and experienced riders. Trail rides in Sunol Regional Park offer 30-minute loops of the valley floor, one-hour rides along the scenic gorge toward Little Yosemite, and four-hour rides through the McGuire Peaks trail enjoying sweeping vistas of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. Reserve any of these or a moonlight ride or overnight adventures.
6115 Morgan Territory Rd
Clayton, CA 94517
Price: $299 for six hours/$300 for five hours
Hours: daily – 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Isabella Farms is for the equestrian lover in your life. Guests spend the day bonding with their horses learning how to communicate through detailed instruction followed by a trek through Mount Diablo enjoying the park’s lush backdrop and stunning trails. Trail rides are offered in five- and six-hour packages.
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Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.