MY FAVE: Montana de Oro in Los Osos! It is 8,000 acres of beauty with MILES of trails — both in the mountains and on the beach. Doesn’t get more varied than this wonderful place!
BEST BECAUSE: Always something to explore. The trails are beautifully varied, with lots of eucalyptus trees and ocean/beach access. The highest peak you can ride to is 1,347 feet, and to ride to the top of that and overlook the ocean is very peaceful and breathtaking. You can walk, trot, canter and gallop over a lot of the trails and work on endurance and great conditioning for your horses, too.
I START FROM: There are several different places along the road you can park, from a dirt lot to a sandy parking lot covered with trees. Very nice all around!
MY FAVE: The John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
BEST BECAUSE: No motor vehicles. The country up there is absolutely pristine. You ride along and over gorgeous mountains, mountain meadows. The lakes up there are crystal clear and full of fish. The bears might help themselves to the fish you catch, but that is part of the charm of the ride. You have to pack in and camp. The ride takes several days. The trails are not for amateurs unless you have an experienced horses, guide. We went with a packing outfit that gave us the choice of using their experienced horses or our own own. I have traveled all over the world and have had many great adventures, but to this day that trail remains one of the best experiences of my life.
I START FROM: We packed out of Bishop. Depending on which packing outfit you contract with, they have different camps outside of Bishop in the foothills.
MY FAVE: Vasquez Rocks.
BEST BECAUSE: This trail has a good variety of terrain. It has up-hills, down-hills, streams to cross and meadows. The rocks are beautiful in formation and contrast against the green meadows (at least during the winter). The parking lot is large and easy to get a trailer in and turned around.
I START FROM: Just off the rear parking lot.
MY FAVE: Montana De Oro down through the dunes to the beach, then scaling the mountain back up through the eucalyptus trees and the dunes to camp.
BEST BECAUSE: Riding with friends, first, with the smell of eucalyptus, the ocean, the sand and the sound of the waves crashing against the sea wall and rolling up the sandy shores below us.
I START FROM: We take off from camp down the wide sandy trail toward the ocean, cross the paved street and take any one of the trails down to the dunes.
MY FAVE: There are so many in Southern California! My favorites has to be on Big Bear Mountain, and also Mammoth Mountain. But there are awesome rides in the Angeles National Forest for picnic rides. The air is fresh and clean, and it is quiet with only the sounds of the wind in the trees and birds talking to each other with a squirrel chirp now and then. I love that there are no motorcycles or traffic to navigate around.
I START FROM: There are many take-off points and little pullouts to park my trailer.
MY FAVE: Santa Margarita River ride near Fallbrook.
BEST BECAUSE: Plenty of everything! There are multiple water crossings, steep grades to climb, soft river beds to run along and many beautiful trees for shade. The trails change each year after the rains wash through the area. I am a member of the trails council that works to clear & keep these trails safe & rideable. We have an upcoming trail clean up day set for 4/30/11. Everyone is welcomed to come & help out. Hope to see you there for the clean up day and then out on the trails later enjoying the ride!
I START FROM: A very nice new staging area is set just off DeLuz Road and Santa Margarita Road with room for trailer parking, a picnic area, portable corrals, porta-potties and running water.
MY FAVE: Inspiration Point on the Pacfic Crest Trail.
BEST BECAUSE: The views, the pine trees, the streams.
I START FROM: From Norco, travel I-15 North to 138 West (left) toward Palmdale/Wrightwood. Go 8.5 miles to a signal (Highway 2) and turn left towards Big Pines. Drive through the City of Wrightwood 10.6 miles and continue bearing left towards La Canada/Flintridge. Pay attention and look for the staging area on the right at Inspiration Point. You will first see the sign for the PCT on your right. IMMEDIATELY, there is a large asphalt parking lot on the right (and also the left…use what you like).
MY FAVE: The Bacon Trail in Norco.
BEST BECAUSE: Because it is right out my back gate. I then can cross a street and go up to the city arena or go beyond into the hills. I could then choose to go north, meet up with my sister and ride the river bed. We could then head on over to Hidden Valley…either way, it is all out my back gate.
I START FROM: Whether it is the Bacon trail, it is all Norco. You can even ride on over to Sixth Street and have lunch because there are places for your horses to rest while you eat. So, trailer on over to Ingall’s Park or over to the Bluffs or Hidden Valley and enjoy over 210 miles of trails. I don’t mean to sound like an advertisement but I do consider myself blessed to live in Norco.
MY FAVE: There are so many great rides, and, of course, any time I spend on my horse with horsey friends is great. Probably the most memorable were the years spent at Montana de Oro in Morro Bay. Several of us would make the trip every year over Thanksgiving week with all of the dinner trimmings in tow. There were a few years where we ate our turkey dinner (cooked on a Weber) in one of the larger horse trailers because it rained. Always yummy and interesting! The sun would come out, and we rode the beach or the hills — so much fun with turkey sandwiches waiting for us upon our return. The same group made frequent trips to Caspers and Cuyamuca…always great times.
BEST BECAUSE: Beautiful trails and campsites, great friends and excellent horses. What else can you ask for?
I START FROM: In those days we boarded our horses at Serrano Creek Ranch in El Toro and staged at our campsites or the designated areas at the parks. Staging areas are shrinking every year and it’s a huge concern for all of us equestrians. I can’t believe I’m going to refer these times to the “Good Old Days” but that’s what they were.
Valley Center, CA
MY FAVE: I have several favorites, but if I really have to pick one, that would be Los Penasquitos Open Space Preserve. My close second is Hellhole Canyon Open Space Preserve in Valley Center.
BEST BECAUSE: You can ride there pretty much year round. It has a large staging area and round pen to warm up your horse if needed. If you get out on the trail early enough in the morning and going along the trail next to the creek, your are very likely to see deer grazing. It gives you the feeling of being in the mountains but city close. There are several creeks you can cross and I really believe it is the best place to take a horse for the first time. The trails are flat and a lot of them have shade. There are separate trails for horse riders. A little bit of Heaven for the day!
MY FAVE: One of my all-time favorite rides for this time of year is the ride to Eagle Rock in Warner Springs.
BEST BECAUSE: The beauty of the area is beyond amazing, and the wild flowers and wildlife make you feel like your riding in a fairy tale.
I START FROM: Start at the staging area and go past the rangers station and head West. Go past Carson’s Crossing to go enjoy the waterfall. Then head back to Carson’s Crossing, go across the creek to the other side and head back East. We make sure and follow all the Equestrian trails back that we can. They are the trails closest to the creek and where all the wildlife are to be found. Then back to the staging area.
MY FAVE: The Quarry Loop in Chatsworth.
BEST BECAUSE: The trail has something for everyone. Beautiful tree-covered creek beds, grassy knolls, rock canyons and a gorgeous top-of-the-world view with a crisp ocean breeze to cool you down after a long climb up. During the spring, Oat Mountain is covered with oat grass – what a great way to reward your horse for making the trip!
I START FROM: 118 Freeway at Canoga Avenue. There’s NO offramp there – it’s just an overpass.
MY FAVE: Marshall Canyon in La Verne.
BEST BECAUSE: Nice trails, water crossings, beautiful scenery, wildlife.
San Marcos, CA
MY FAVE: Rancho Los Penasquitos Canyon.
BEST BECAUSE: Great staging area, lots of trail options that are well-maintained, lovely water crossings, trees/shade and a variety of scenery. I ride a Tennessee Walking Horse, so I love all the flatter trails where we can gait forever!
I START FROM: Scripps Poway Parkway/Mercy Rd. exit off I-15 takes you right to the staging area.
Moreno Valley, CA
MY FAVE: My favorite trail ride is around Perris Lake in Moreno Valley. It is a six-hour ride.
BEST BECAUSE: We have the view of the lake while we ride and talk to each other. Also, it is beautiful getting to the lake. We have trails that have been cut out by the city that are nice and soft for our horses to walk or run. The scenery is beautiful, quiet and relaxing. Once we return from the ride, we feel as if we have had a massage. Then, it is time for drinking and eating.
I START FROM: We take off from my ranch about three miles from the lake.
MY FAVE: Our favorite trail ride is Happy Camp State Park in Moorpark. It is one block away from our ranch, so easy to work the horses in the arena and cool them out in the park. There are flat areas that you can ride in no matter how much it has rained; there are mountains to work those chests, hindquarters, forearms, and gaskins and to take the edge off the green ones; and there is the sand to build up the legs if you just want to walk and build up the legs. The wide trails are state-maintained, and the small ones are an adventure, going through streams and over logs and past caves and waterfalls.
BEST BECAUSE: I love the Happy Camp trails as much as the horses do. I think it keeps both me and the horses balanced with our arena work, both physically and mentally. I love getting off the ranch and being out in nature. We see deer, cattle, turkeys, coyotes, bobcats, hawks, snakes, lizards, and all types of other birds. I see wild raspberries, wild watercress, mistletoe, artichokes, sage, thyme, and so much fresh air. You can literally ride to Magic Mountain, about 45 miles away, from our park. Some days I just pick a trail and go on and on to see where it goes. I even pretend I’m in another state, riding in a new place. Fun!
I START FROM: My take off point is my ranch, Peck Farm. There is also a trailer-in parking lot one block away. If it is hot, I prefer to ride north into the canyons where it is cool and up to the picnic tables located at the old cattle holding site. On a cold winter day, go to the top of the mountains and look at the ocean and watch the sun set over the water with all the colors in the sky.
MY FAVE: Along the newer streets of Norco, above Ingalls Park! These particular trails meander through the hills and newer homes and provide a spectacular view of the city below.
BEST BECAUSE: The beauty of the hills that surround the trail, the well-kept trails, the fact the several homeowners provide water for the horses along the way, the quiet..and most of all, the view. At night you can see city lights for miles around. During the day, you can look down at Ingall’s Park Equestrian Center.
I START FROM: Crestview and Sixth Street in Norco.
MY FAVE: Going from my house here in Anza toward Garner Valley. It’s about 13 to 18 miles and goes up a good grade all the way. You can add a few miles or take off a few depending on time, the heat factor, and how the horses are doing.
BEST BECAUSE: The views! The breeze in the summer time. And, it really helps me to get my long-distance horses ready for the trails. Wonderful for gaiting along. Great for group riders of like mind. You can gait your horse the first three miles or so, then go up the mountain. here are places to canter/ or lope along. I have my husband and/or others take the truck and trailers up to a friends place in Garner Valley so that we can drive back with the horses and stop and have lunch at one of the food places before we go back to the ranch! A great day to spend with friends of like mind that want to go along at a good gait, and really work the horses.
I START FROM: Our ranch, Double AA Ranch, in Anza.