And although the rides are kid friendly -- kids as young as 6 years old have gone along -- you don't have to have kids along to enjoy the ride. It's quite romantic to slowly walk up the side of a mountain with your loved one, with your only expended effort being to dodge branches. You really don't even need to steer -- the horses generally seem to know their way.
Over the years, I've taken my family on three trail rides: up to Seneca Rocks and twice through the Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
During your ride up through Canaan Valley Resort State Park, you're likely to see white-tailed deer or even a black bear in their natural habitat. There are frequent wildlife sightings and photo opportunities along the trail as you ride through wooded forests and mountain meadows to vantage points near Bald Knob. These trails are used only for riding horses, and provide spectacular views of Canaan Valley - the highest valley east of the Mississippi River.
Seneca Rocks, a prominent and visually striking formation rising nearly 900 feet above the surrounding countryside, is well worth a visit, whether to the visitor's center at the base or via a hike or horse ride along the side of the mountain. Whether you hoof it or hike it, though, unless you're an experienced rock climber, you won't make it to the peak. Seneca Rocks is easily visible and accessible along West Virginia Route 28, near U.S. Route 33 in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area of the Monongahela National Forest.
Tip #1: Dress appropriately! Jeans (or pants) and reasonable shoes, such as hiking boots or sneakers. Don't wear flip flops.
Tip #2: When they offer you a helmet, say yes. One horse my husband was riding decided that a doe was a wild and crazy creature, to be avoided at all costs. Although he stayed on when the horse reared and bolted (a very unusual occurrence, by the way), had he fallen we'd have been grateful for the helmet. Plus, branches that a horse can duck aren't always avoidable by an inexperienced rider.
Hours: Check the outfits websites for times and locations.
Dogs: Not for the trailrides, no.
Websites: http://www.mountaintrailrides.com; www.yokumstables.com
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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I'd love to hear what you're doing! Email [email protected] if you're interested in being a guest-blogger!