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Where should I live for access to the best trail riding?

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  • Where should I live for access to the best trail riding?

    Hello - my husband and I are thinking about moving to a more rural area (from a large east coast city where we live now). We are avid trail riders but don't have easy access to trails where we live. We want to start training for endurance rides. We are open to moving Anywhere in the US. Where should we go for access to the best trail riding? I am looking for lots of opinions from people who trail ride, endurance ride, camp, etc. Thank you!

    Adding additional info in response to questions:

    - Our jobs enable us to work from home/work from anywhere, so there is no limitation based on career considerations.We have means to buy a place.

    - We would prefer to be adjacent to the trail head or a very short ride on a non-paved road from it.

    - We would prefer a mix of trail types - open, meadows, mountains, forest. Wilderness is okay as long as there are trails and it's not all bushwhacking.

    - We would prefer a place where there is some horse culture - others we can ride with, etc.

    Last edited by gojengirl; Dec. 9, 2019, 12:09 PM.

  • #2
    I’m pretty biased, but Auburn CA and surrounding areas are amazing trail and endurance areas. Upside is access to hundreds of miles of trails, some still affordable areas, endurance community and organized rides. Downside is heat, and the fire dangers (though not many forested areas in the US are free from that any more).
    "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty

    http://trails-and-trials-with-major.blogspot.com/

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    • #3
      Some considerations:

      How will you support yourself in the new location? Are you independently wealthy or will you need a job? Will your work qualifications get you employment where you are looking? If this can be accommodated then you are OK to start looking at other things.

      Is there a large area of public land where you can ride? Remember that the land must be open to horses (be it public or private).

      How long is the "commute" from house to trail head? In some place you'll measure in minutes and some in hours.

      Are you campers or do you consider "roughing" it the HI Express instead of the Crown Plaza? That can make a difference.

      Do you want just "wilderness" or are more prepared venues (like National Military Parks or National Parks or State Parks) more to your liking?

      Are you hot weather people, cold weather people, or do you care one way or the other? Do you mind riding in the rain? Snow?

      We live in East TN, about midway between the Great Smokey Mts. National Park and adjacent National Forests and the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Pull up Google Maps to see the extent of these public lands (one of the largest groupings east of the Mississippi). There are also several private riding venues in this area (particularly around the Big South Fork). There are also several Military Parks (Chickamauga, Shiloh, Stones River, etc.) that have trails. Many State parks in TN and GA have equestrian trails. I'm less familiar with KY or the Carolinas. Weather is temperate with warm, but not overly oppressive summers, really nice falls, really wet springs, and only very modest snowfall and cold. You'll lose a few days in summer due to heat and a few in winter due to cold. Rainfall is abundant, meaning lots of green trees and high humidity! Cost of horse ownership is generally reasonable. As you move west across the state you find less riding opportunities as you approach the Big Muddy and Memphis. It's generally a good place to ride.

      There are other good areas along the Appalachians but colder as you go north and hotter as you go south.

      The western mountains are the next most logical place to look but are somewhat more demanding in terms of weather. From my recent visits to CO and from people who live there it's filling up with people from further west. The biggest advantage is LOTS of public lands but also growing restrictions at the State and Federal levels. I personally like New Mexico as another place of reasonable climate and opportunities to ride.

      Google Maps will be your friend in this process as you will be able to see the big and detailed picture of any given area.

      Good luck in your search.

      G.
      Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd highly recommend one of the equestrian communities surrounding Big South Fork, in either Kentucky or Tennessee. My favorite is Ridgetop Acres in Jamestown.

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        • #5
          Fair Hill MD has tons of open fields and spaces. You'd have to trailer to mountains.

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          • #6
            VA near Iron Mountain or near the OD trails
            Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

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            • #7
              Bedford, NY is a beautiful little country town that is situated about 45 minutes north of Manhattan. There are tons of property with "backyard barns", or the potential to build to your liking. There are two tack shops right in the center of town. Within the town you have trails and dirt roads that connect to make up about 100 linear miles. I grew up in the area and I have very fond memories of driving to high school and passing groups of riders on the roads. I attached a link to the trail association in the post. About 15 minutes from Bedford is North Salem, NY which is also saturated with horse culture. North Salem has an association of its own which manages their trails. Within an hours drive you can also find plenty of state parks which offer some different terrain, as well as a number of barns which will allow you to trailer in and use their facilities for a fee. Either of these two towns are deeply rooted in horse culture. My favorite part is that you truly have the best of both world, easy access to larger cities, with a country town feel.
              The BRLA preserves and maintains a historic trail system throughout greater Bedford, NY while furthering its equestrian and pastoral traditions for the benefit and enjoyment of our community.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm a retired snow bird looking for a trail access home too. I'm spending the winter in northern Florida checking out that system---and real estate can be uber cheap there--and also looking at properties on other trail systems too. One i really like is Otter Creek in NYS, also New Discovery in Vt is pretty nice, but more expensive. Douglas State Forest in Ma is said to be nice too.

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                • #9
                  Washington State has thousands of miles of trails to explore and run the whole gamut from flat pastures to rigorous mountains. The wilderness areas do have trails through them, no bushwhacking needed, but have restrictions to party size and what you are allowed to bring in with you. There's a "heartbeat" rule and the general size is 12 heartbeats at a time so you and your horse are two heartbeats. If you bring a dog, that's 3 heartbeats. However, the riding is spectacular and the views enormous. There are several areas in my specific neighborhood where there are homes right on or very close to local "front country" trail heads. I haul out but I'm only 20 minutes from 1,500 acres of trail riding.

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                  • #10
                    In New England, you have to be alittle careful. Douglas State Forest is nice to visit, but I would not move to the area for it. While the trails may look good on paper, I think it's harder to find more than 10 miles of good trails, and the good trails are also popular with people and dogs, etc. (though we like people and dogs). Trails can be rocky and are not well-marked, and it's normal to have the trails be icy/muddy from mid-December until the end of April, and very buggy from late May through August. September to mid-November is great, though. Except for the ground bees. I love New England, and am happy with the trails as a low-key trail rider, but not sure it can compete with areas with better footing, more of a horse culture, and less trail loss due to development and the high cost of land. Don't get me wrong; there are lots of places to have nice rides of 5-10 miles. But, if I wanted to go out more than once a week without trailering and have a variety of trails with nice footing, I think eastern Massachusetts is not the best place. Areas in central Mass, such as Leverett Town Forest area and the Mt. Toby area, might be different. There is a campground in central Mass, called Wagonwheel, that has an area for horse camping and reportedly miles of nice trails; I keep meaning to get there.... There also is nice trail riding on the North Shore area of Massachusetts bordering Bradley Palmer State Forest.

                    In Vermont, there is the Green Mountain Horse Association, with access to miles of trails. They're hilly, so your horse will get in good shape! If I could afford it, I would have one farm on the trail system at GMHA, and another farm in the Carolinas, on a major trail system like CETA or FETA trails.

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                    • #11
                      Weeellll...you could buy our place Not for sale just yet but likely will be in the next year, husband would like to be a little closer to work. We're in eastern SF Bay area. Decent 5 acre property with horse set up. Surrounded by deeded park land but fronts road (no neighbors/easements to hassle with). Out the back gate into 3500 level to rolling hills future state park. Across the street (literally, you can walk across, no need to trailer) to 2,000 acre regional park which connects directly to Mount Diablo State Park. All told, nearly 50,000 acres of trails across the street. One of my nearest neighbors won the Tevis Cup years back. Trails, we gots them! Just over an hour to a couple of good equine hospitals, including UC Davis.

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                      • #12
                        When I lived on the central coast, CA. We were able to ride in some of the wineries (lots of fun and we would always join their wine clubs). Lots of riverbeds where you could ride for miles. Easy to trailer to the beach and super fun. And we would go horse camping in the Sierras. Beware of high cost or real estate! I now live in a horse community in the mountains in CA that has a very nice equestrian center. I can ride to trails direct from my house. Not as much variety as I had on the Central Coast with regard to trails but still very nice. In a horse community you find lots of folks with whom to ride.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Quelah View Post
                          Weeellll...you could buy our place Not for sale just yet but likely will be in the next year, husband would like to be a little closer to work. We're in eastern SF Bay area. Decent 5 acre property with horse set up. Surrounded by deeded park land but fronts road (no neighbors/easements to hassle with). Out the back gate into 3500 level to rolling hills future state park. Across the street (literally, you can walk across, no need to trailer) to 2,000 acre regional park which connects directly to Mount Diablo State Park. All told, nearly 50,000 acres of trails across the street. One of my nearest neighbors won the Tevis Cup years back. Trails, we gots them! Just over an hour to a couple of good equine hospitals, including UC Davis.
                          Sounds very appealing. Will you be offering this property at a bargain basement price???

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think you will need to consider your preferred climate with regard to temperature range, degree of humidity, amount of precipitation (snow/rain). What other things are important to you such as being near a University, access to museums/cultural activities, access to "big city" so on and so forth. There is a book that I had years ago called "Places Rated" that addressed a multitude of issues that folks might wish to consider. Best of luck to you sounds like a wonderful opportunity!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Oh! And once a year they have a two
                              day NATRC competition in the regional
                              park across the street 😊

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Florida has plenty of trails but with the excessive heat, it is nearly unrideable for 6 months during the summer. I have been debating on buying one acre in North Georgia and leaving for the summer. Make a nice little studio apartment out of a shed, or buy a small mobile home to live in. For one person that should be sufficient. If i could find a decent job up there, it may be worth moving up to North Georgia.

                                My horses are currently on my parents property and my parents have no intention of moving anywhere, so i don't want to make that leap just yet. I would rather save up and buy something really nice. But the excessive heat has been brutal. One of my horses has gotten sick 2 years in a row on trail rides during the summer. The last time, she laid down on the middle of the trail, all veins popped out, and we barely managed to get her back to the barn. My cat has overheated just being outside and I worry about the dogs and horses getting heat stroke... Just too hot.

                                I've decided Florida is only nice if you want 6 months off, or if you can afford 2 properties. But we do have plenty of trails... And you can ride in the summer if you pack plenty of water, ride early, and go at a snail's pace. Or if you don't mind short rides. This past year was the most brutal summer we have had with far above average temperatures.

                                I can't wait to move north. The sooner the better. If i was an indoor person, it might not bother me so much.

                                Out of curiosity, what job do you do that allows you to work from anywhere?
                                ​​​

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Another option: When I rode across MI on an organized Michigan Trail Riders Shore to Shore trail ride (250 miles in two weeks) about half the people riding were "permanent" trail riders. Retirement age couples had one or two horses, big LQ trailers, and no permanent residence. As a group (loosely organized) they would ride the Michigan trail system in the spring, summer, fall --then again, as a loosely organized group, head south to TX or AZ where they would continue to ride trails. There were "layover" places ---pastures and barns were rented for one or two weeks ---the traveling horsemen and women would take a break, visit grandkids, and give the horses a break --then off again to the next camp ground and the next set of trails.

                                  There were sometimes "break away" groups --three or four went to Alaska one summer to ride; others would "go home" to family owned farms for awhile ---but it was a group ---they looked after each other ---and kept in touch. Nice people. If that's something you'd like to try --I am sure the Michigan Trail Riders Association would connect you with someone living the trail-riding life.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by 4horses View Post

                                    Out of curiosity, what job do you do that allows you to work from anywhere?
                                    ​​​
                                    I was in outside sales for large international company, had a region that covered a large part of the central US.... really was no requirement to live anywhere, just obtain or exceed sales goals

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by 16 Hands View Post
                                      Washington State has thousands of miles of trails to explore and run the whole gamut from flat pastures to rigorous mountains. The wilderness areas do have trails through them, no bushwhacking needed, but have restrictions to party size and what you are allowed to bring in with you. There's a "heartbeat" rule and the general size is 12 heartbeats at a time so you and your horse are two heartbeats. If you bring a dog, that's 3 heartbeats. However, the riding is spectacular and the views enormous. There are several areas in my specific neighborhood where there are homes right on or very close to local "front country" trail heads. I haul out but I'm only 20 minutes from 1,500 acres of trail riding.
                                      I'll second Washington state! I've been so impressed with both the number of horse trails and their accessibility. A lot of the pipelines that run through the area (especially in King County) have rights of way that connect farms and larger trail systems - even close into seattle you can have lots of backyard horse properties that back up onto a pipeline that then connects to county and state parks for miles of trails. Then there are the 'long haul' trails like the Palouse to Cascades trail. We have mountains and beaches and all sorts of options. And the western Washington climate is mild enough you can ride year round, albeit a little damp in the winter (ok, sometimes a lot damp, but I'm from the midwest where outdoor riding in the winter just doesn't happen, so it's a step up!).

                                      I'm new enough to the area I don't know the exact best spots to situation yourself. You might check out the North Bend and Snoqualmie areas, where the mountains start just east of Seattle. I'm sure there are probably facebook groups that would have much better advice than I though.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Applecore View Post

                                        I'm new enough to the area I don't know the exact best spots to situation yourself. You might check out the North Bend and Snoqualmie areas, where the mountains start just east of Seattle. I'm sure there are probably facebook groups that would have much better advice than I though.
                                        Check out the Trailmeister on FB or on the web. He's got maps, directions, pictures of just about any area where a horse trail can be found, and trail riding tips and tricks. There's lots of trails in the North Bend/Snoqualmie area - Tiger Mountain, Squawk Mountain, Flying Eagle (I think that's the name) Park, Bridle Trails, tons of others.

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