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.
- Riding alongside neat rows of lush grapevines. Of course.
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 Sonoma County companies that provide trail rides:
Chanslor Stables, a working western horse ranch, offers guided horseback trail rides with breathtaking ocean views. Follow miles of trails that take you to lofty mountaintops, grassy meadows, coastal dunes, or along the beach. Private rides are available, including a private picnic ride. Information: 707-589-5040
Horse 'n Around Trail Rides offers a 60-minute sand dunes ride that provides panoramic views of the Bodega Bay harbor and Sonoma Coastline; a 90 minute beach ride that includes the dunes and harbor views, plus riding along a long stretch of beach; and trail rides on the Hagemann Ranch Trout Farm, an incredible family-owned ranch with gorgeous views of the rolling coastal hills. Information: 707-875-8849.
The Ranch at Lake Sonoma offers guided scenic horseback rides with stunning views overlooking the Dry Creek Valley, Lake Sonoma, and the rugged Rockpile wine region. Located just 15 minutes from downtown Healdsburg, The Ranch offers a wilderness experience on horseback, wandering through Sonoma County’s largest 17,000-acre park. A variety of trail rides are available, from those suitable for timid or first-time riders to more challenging treks for thrill seekers. Information: 707-494-4449
Rollin F Ranch outside of Sebastopol offers a one-hour scenic horseback tour of a private working ranch in the heart of Sonoma County Wine Country. Owned by the Fiddler family for more than 100 years (four generations), Rollin F Ranch grows Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah wine grapes, organic Gravenstein apples, and wild blackberries, with vegetable and flower gardens scattered around the ranch. Enjoy views of the local mountain ranges as you ride through vineyards, huge oak groves, and woodlands. Information: 707-480-0800.
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. Information: 707-494-0499.
If you have your own horse, these state and county parks offer equestrian trails:
Sonoma County Parks:
Foothill Regional Park, Shiloh Ranch 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:
Written by Sonoma Insider Suzie Rodriguez.