Horses on the Beach (credit: Randy Yagi)
If you’re looking to go horseback riding in the Bay Area, a good place to start is north of the Golden Gate. That’s because the North Bay may have the finest collection of horseback riding services in the entire region. What’s more, horse ranches in Sonoma and Marin counties offer guests the unique opportunity to ride through redwood forests or even an unforgettable journey on the beaches along the majestic Sonoma Coast. Here are five of the best family-friendly places to go horseback riding in the North Bay.
3892 Old Redwood Highway
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
Cloverleaf Ranch is an award-winning, family-owned business that has served the Santa Rosa community for more than 50 years. The ranch has an acclaimed riding school for adults and children of all riding levels, in addition to horse boarding, facility rentals and Sonoma County’s only Western Summer Camp Program. Western horseback lessons are available for groups, semi-private and private lessons, lead line lessons, trail rides and for couples. Earlier in the year, Cloverleaf Ranch owner Shawna DeGrange received the Spirit of Sonoma Award from the Mark West Area Chamber of Commerce for her outstanding contributions to the community.
Five Brooks Ranch
8001 Highway 1
Olema, CA 94950
Five Brooks Stable offers an array of horse services, including guided trail rides, riding lessons and pony rides for “young Buckaroos and Buckarettes.” Located along the eastern border of the extraordinary Point Reyes National Seashore, the ranch offers group and trail rides including a unique ride along Wildcat Beach amid panoramic views of Drakes Bay. Inexpensive, hand-led pony rides are available all day and young guests will be able to enjoy an entertaining ride to a private pond filled with Point Reyes wildlife like great blue herons, western pond turtles and California quails, the state bird of the Golden State.
2660 Highway 1
Bodega Bay, CA 94923
Located on 378 acres, this Bodega Bay business offers a number of guided trail rides, complete with remarkable views of the Sonoma Coast. Group and private trail rides range between 30 and 90 minutes with varying age minimums starting at six years or older. Among the most popular trail rides are the Miwok Village Trail through an area where Native Americans once lived and the Beach Ride, taking guests right on the white sandy beaches of Bodega Bay. Horse N Around Trail Rides also offers discounts for college students, active military and veterans and more. Also on the property are overnight accommodations, tent camping, horse boarding and space for special events.
701 Tennessee Valley Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941
This very popular North Bay business offers horseback riding, guided trail rides, horse boarding and summer day camps. Located within the incomparable Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Miwok Livery offers classes at two outdoor schooling rings for adults of all riding levels and lessons for children ages seven and older, in addition to an after school program. Private guided trail rides traversing the breathtaking Marin Headlands are available for guests 12 years and older and typically last between 60 and 90 minutes. In business for nearly 35 years, the ranch features 20 school horses described as “lovable” and six certified riding instructors, most prominently the owner and head instructor Linda Rubio.
11925 Highway 1
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
Point Reyes Arabian Adventures provides family-friendly trail rides with some of the most spectacular views of the North Bay. Owner Susan Roswell leads small groups on all of the affordable trail rides to scenic places like Tomales Bay, rich with native animals and marine life, and the pastoral Chileno Valley in Sonoma County. Western or English style horseback riding is offered for children six years and older and riders of all levels and abilities are welcome to ride any of the captivating Arabian horses. One particularly noteworthy service from Point Reyes Arabian Adventures is a beginner special offers guests a half hour lesson, followed by a trail ride overlooking the expansive Tomales Bay.