Once upon a time, horses were the transportation of choice here in St. Louee, the Gateway to the West. Today, most of us are amateur riders at best, but on a trail ride it doesn’t matter. The horses know the way and experienced riders are on hand to keep them moseying along. So even if you’ve never ridden, you can spend an afternoon enjoying some scenery on horseback. Trail rides are a perfect way to connect with your children or to set up a romantic date.
Pere Marquette Stables
15780 State Highway 100 W.
Grafton, IL 62037
If you’re spending a day at Pere Marquette State Park or the Grafton area for a day of hiking, antiquing or river fun, you should make a reservation for a trail ride at Pere Marquette Stables. A 50-minute ride will take you through 2.5 miles of gorgeous wooded scenery throughout the park. No equestrian experience is necessary. The staff will match you with the proper horse and provide you with helmets. Cost is $35 per person, ages eight and up (younger children may have a pony ride in the yard, no double riders are allowed).
The Riding Center
8162 Red Ray Mine Road
Freeburg, IL 62243
The Riding Center is a full-service equestrian facility that offers boarding, riding lessons and even birthday parties for horse lovers. Its year-round trail rides are one hour long and priced at $40 per person. Younger children can have a 30-minute pony ride for $20 instead. Groups can take advantage of dicounted packages and hayrides. A pony-riding party for children, including two ponies and volunteers, plus a picnic area to eat your cake and treats is priced at $180.
333 Hillsboro Road
Valley Park, MO 63011
Kraus Farms is a full-service facility, offering boarding, lessons, several summer camps and Girl Scout programs as well as trail rides. The trail ride experience is for ages seven and up (riders must be able to independently mount a horse, follow verbal instructions and be properly dressed). Groups of three or more can enjoy the ride for just $30 per person. If there are only two of you, the price is $50 per person. What a nice romantic treat or alone time with one of your children that would be. Reservations are required.
9115 Natural Bridge Road
St. Louis, MO 63134
Right in the city, next to I-170, Ace Stables offers a surprising glimpse of the country. Ace boards horses and offers lessons, camps and Girl Scount programs as well as rides. The guided trail ride experience is priced at just $25. The 40-minute ride passes through over 30 acres of pastures, creeks, woods and other scenery.
Rocking J Ranch
6722 Bridle Trail
High Ridge, MO 63049
Rocking J Ranch is a full-service ranch just west of St. Louis. Its unique event offerings include “rustic chic barn weddings,” birthday parties and hayrides. Horse lovers will find boarding, lessons and camps. Trail rides here meet at a shady pavillion and including brushing and tacking the horses under the direction of an expert wrangler (but if you’d rather not, your wrangler will do it for you). You then get a mini-lesson tailored to your experience, followed by a trail ride. The cost for an hour-long ride plus lesson and tacking/brushing instruction is $50 per person.
Lauren Haas is a writer who specializes in finding the fun! Lauren was the publisher of the St. Louis Area Family Gazette for eight years, and now writes freelance articles on St. Louis events and attractions, budget travel, arts and entertainment and fitness topics. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.