Saddle up, pardner! If you're admiring the mountains around you, just itching to get out into the thick of it, a horseback ride is one of the best ways to experience the area.
- One or two hours can be a perfect outing for the entire family to get out into the incredible national forests of the area.
- Kids love to saddle up on a pony for a great introduction to horseback riding.
- Overnight pack rides allow deeper access into the remote areas.
Horses have long played an integral role in Colorado's history. It's not just a myth from the movies! The modern history of horses in Summit County dates back to the mining days when horses, mules and donkeys were the primary method of getting the minerals from the mountain to the railroad.
Though their time as pack animals has come and gone, Colorado still holds horses close to its heart. Take one ride around the area, and you'll quickly understand why these beautiful animals are still cherished. They're perfect for an hour or two on the trail with the whole family, or an overnight pack trip deep into nature.
Where to go Horseback Riding
Arapaho National Forest
Arapaho National Forest is one of Colorado's gems, stretching across a large portion of the center of the state. The wildlife of the area includes deer, moose, bears and much more, so keep your eyes open!
Try the Buchanan Pass, reaching an elevation of 11,837 feet. From the Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead, it's a steep 10 miles up to the pass, but it's worth every foot.
Another option is the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which has a variety of trail for all levels. For example, the Arapaho Glacier Trail starts at 10,000 feet and rises over 6 miles to an overlook of the Arapaho Glacier at 12,700 feet. Access is from Nederland, on Highway 72.
Eagles Nest Wilderness Area
This area was a hard-fought battle for environmentalists, but it's fortunate they won, leaving the legacy of the Gore Range at visitors' fingertips. Explore the waterfalls, alpine lakes and meadows of this beautiful area.
Acorn Creek is a 4 mile trail that connects with Ute Peak Trail and Ptarmigan Trail. All offer outstanding views of the Gore Range. The trailhead is located off of I-70 exit 205, heading north on Hwy. 9. Follow FDR 2400 to FDR 2402, which leads to the parking area.
Take the opportunity in this wilderness area to take your horse out from some hunting (after getting the necessary permits).
Keystone horseback riding is a popular summer activity, so there are a variety of ranches and stables located in and around the town. If you're looking for a pony ride for your children, or something more challenging, it's all right at your finger tips.
Not to be left behind, Breckenridge horseback riding offers instant access into the Arapaho National Forest. Take advantage of the proximity to get into the mountains the old fashioned way. Take a break halfway through to perch yourself on a rock outcropping and have a nice picnic lunch.
Permits and Fees
Depending on the size of the group, the activity and the area to be entered, permits may be required. Inquire at the ranger station of the specific area.
Hire a Guide
Some visitors bring in their own horses to enjoy, however, most budding (or experienced) equestrians hire a guide to help show them around. In addition to providing the horses, saddle, feed and the necessary gear, the ranchers will often put together custom-tailored packages for groups.
Ask around at some of the different ranches, you'll be surprised how friendly these cowboys are!
Certified weed-free (or pelletized feed or grain) is required in all National Forest Areas.