One of the first things riders mention when they talk about Limantour Beach is the steep downhill part of the drive out there. They are not exaggerating, and no matter which trail you ride, you will have to go down that hill. On the way home, you have to pull back up that grade. It is not a road for half-hearted hauling vehicles.
The only warning I would add to that is that the Muddy Hollow trail involves crossing at least one bridge. Getting to the beach means crossing another, much bigger one. Both appear to be in very good condition. At the beach parking area there are bathrooms but we did not encounter water for horses. This is probably just as well with the diseases out there these days. It is best to always carry water for your horses.
Maps for Point Reyes trails can be found here. Continue reading
(Photo Gallery) We took a youngster to the beach for his first ride off the ranch. He did very well. Continue reading
(Photo Gallery) These photos are from two separate April rides at Point Reyes, departing from the Bear Valley parking area. Continue reading
(Photo Gallery) Point Reyes National Park has a lot of horse-friendly trails, though some are better ridden on weekdays, and some are even closed to horses on weekends. That is just as well, as the trails are frequented by mountain bikes and hikers on weekends. On weekdays, though, it is very quiet. I have been out there three times this winter and encountered only a few hikers and no bikes.
There are a few places to enter the park. On this late January day, my friend and I used the Bear Valley parking lot. The road to Bear Valley is a bit windy but not terribly steep and the parking area is very easy to get in and out of. It is far enough from the road to feel quite secure for your tied horses. There is a public water trough and a public bathroom by the parking area. The trail names and distances are well marked, but you might need a map or a guide to know which trail to follow. Some of the trails are wide fire roads, some are single-track.
Just outside of Guerneville in Sonoma County, Armstrong Woods is a state park open to hikers, mountain bikers and riders. The trails are marked accordingly so if everyone obeys the rules you shouldn’t have trouble with flying mountain bikes. The trails were in great shape when I rode there (September, 2013) and seem to be extensively maintained.
Great dirt road trail, with well-marked single-track loops to choose from. A lot of climbing, though not steep. From parking lot to lake is about an hour on the fire road.
Great parking lot with outhouse, water trough and hitching posts. Be prepared to cross paved road near a turn to reach trails.
Trails can be a little rocky, but a horse with tough hooves should be fine barefoot. Continue reading
Good ride for fit horses. No hills to climb, but sand all the way to the beach. No bikes, lots of paths to choose from. Water trough at trail head.
Easy access parking lot, though proximity of parking lot to road makes some people (like me) nervous. Continue reading