Quail Hollow State Park in Stark County
Exploring the outdoors on horseback is a popular pursuit for many Ohioans, and now with autumn corralling some of the best riding weather of the year, there is no better time to saddle up and hit the bridle trail.
Fortunately for those who like to ride, there are many locations across the state to enjoy, including more than 800 miles of bridle trails tucked within Ohio’s beautiful state parks and state forests. These trails offer some of the Buckeye State’s most breathtaking landscapes and highlight the diversity of our terrain.
Don’t have your own horse? Don’t worry. Although riders must provide their own mounts at state parks and forests, stables are often located nearby, providing horse rentals and guided trail excursions.
Here are a few of the popular places to enjoy horseback riding in Ohio:
Twenty-four Ohio State Parks
Beaver Creek State Park in Columbiana County may be off the beaten path, but it’s a favorite among equestrians. Trail options include the moderate-to-rugged 12-mile Hoofbeat Loop that crisscrosses the Little Beaver Creek State Wild and Scenic River. More experienced riders will enjoy the nine-mile Whispering Pine Trail, which winds through steep inclines and passes the park’s popular lookout point. The horsemen’s camp offers primitive camping with drinking water, latrines and tie-ups, and can accommodate about 100 overnight guests and their horses.
Outstanding horsemen’s facilities put Barkcamp State Park in Belmont County on the map for many equestrians. In addition to the 24 miles of bridle trails, which weave in and out of forested areas and grasslands, riders will find a horse-bathing area, loading ramp for physically challenged riders, and 25 horsemen’s campsites.
Far across the state from Barkcamp, on the Ohio-Indiana border, Hueston Woods State Park offers 18 miles of easy to moderate bridle trails that twist through a beech and maple forest and across rolling meadows. The park also offers a 25-site primitive horsemen’s camp with pressurized water and hitching stands.
Shawnee State Forest in Scioto and Adams counties a region rightfully nicknamed “The Little Smokies” offers some of the most scenic trail riding in Ohio. Equestrians can traverse more than 60 miles of bridle trails amid Ohio’s largest state forest. Be sure and check out the recently added two-mile Moore Run Trail, which intersects with the McAtee Bridle Trail on the ridge. This newest section of trail, along with a new parking area on State Route 52, was developed in partnership with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Scioto Chapter of the Ohio Horsemen’s Council.
At nearby Zaleski State Forest, in Vinton and Athens counties, more than 50 miles of picturesque trail follow the ridge lines and hollows of this predominantly oak forest. Trail loops are color-coded for easy navigation, and are of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty. For those without a mount, rental horses are available in the area.
Farther north, another state forest gem for horseback riding is the 4,500-acre Mohican-Memorial in Ashland County. Offering a real wilderness experience, 22 miles of bridle trails lead rider and horse along easy-to-moderate trails through rolling to hilly terrain.
offer more than 500 miles of bridle trails, while nearly 360 miles of trails meander through 13 state forests. And for those wanting to overnight on the trail, eight state parks and five state forests feature horse camps. Visit ohio
dnr.com for more information.
Other areas with great public riding trails include the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio and the Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Akron and Cleveland. Some local park systems, such as Cleveland Metroparks, also offer trail-riding opportunities.
When you do hit the trail, don’t forget to practice good trail etiquette.
Lastly, no matter what time of the year, trail conditions can vary, especially following bad weather. It’s always a good idea to call a day or so ahead to ensure bridle paths are open.
Happy Trails to you!