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Sonoma County on Horseback

Photo: Triple Creek Horse Outfit. Horseback riding through the vineyards is a dream come true in Sonoma County

Whatever your dream about horseback riding might be, you’ll probably find it in Sonoma County:

  • Cantering swiftly on a beautiful beach at sunset, hair streaming behind you, waves crashing alongside? Yep.
  • Comfortably astride a gentle horse that’s picking its way through a thick forest, the only sound that of a persistent woodpecker seeking dinner? Sure.
  • Trotting smoothly alongside a fast-moving early-spring stream fed by a 25-foot waterfall high above? You bet.

For the most part, horseback riding can be done all year long in Sonoma County, though it can get a bit muddy in winter. Even so, smack in the middle of January or February plenty of sunshine is bound to come along and dry up the trails.

Here’s an alphabetically-arranged list of six Sonoma County companies that provide trail rides:

  • Owners Jonathan and Laura Ayers have been in business since 1983. Information: 707-887-2939.
  • Horse ‘n Around Trail Rides offers both rides along the beach and ocean-view trail rides at Bodega Bay’s Chanslor Guest Ranch & Stables. In addition to local beaches, the company has access to eight miles of private trails, some of it running through wildlife preserves. You can enjoy a simple trail ride or stay for a night or longer at the ranch, which offers room and ride packages. To contact the ranch, call 707-875-2721. Horse ‘n Around can be reached at 707-875-8849.
  • Triple Creek Horse Outfit, located in Sonoma Valley’s Kenwood, offers guided wine-country rides at Jack London State Historic Park (where the celebrated author lived and mtaintained his Beauty Ranch) along 20+ miles of trails. The company also offers rides at 1850-acre Kunde Family Estate Winery. You’ll ride through old growth oak woodlands, past ancient winery ruins, and you’ll often be in sight of premium vineyards. Your ride will be followed by a complimentary tasting at the winery. Information: 707-887-8700.
  • Victoria’s Fashion Stables, located in Petaluma, can provide a leased horse for one or more days—if you’re an experienced equestrian, that is. They’ll even meet you with a horse at the location from which you want to ride out. Among the company’s suggestion for rides: camping out at a park with an equestrian campsite, or taking a ride on the remote Bolinas Mesa on private property. They’ll help with arrangements. Information: 707-665-0600.
  • Wine Country Trail Rides in Healdsburg, founded by former polo player Rafael Hernandez, offers trail rides through 1300+ acres of vineyards and views at Chalk Hill Estate. Rides accommodate children as young as seven, and sport horses are available to riders who qualify. All rides include a special tasting of Chalk Hill wines. Info: 707-494-0499.

If you have your own horse, these state and county parks offer equestrian trails:

Sonoma County Parks: Foothill Regional Park, Shiloh Regional Park, Joe Rodota Trail, Spring Lake Regional Park, Hood Mountain Regional Park, West County Trail, Crane Creek Regional Park, Helen Putnam Regional Park , Riverfront Regional Park.

California State Parks: Annadel State Park , Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve , Austin Creek State Recreation Area, Jack London State Historic Park, Salt Point State Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.