Horseback Riding

What better way to spend your vacation than with your family and your horse? Horses are not new to the High Country, but with the influx of summer residents and folks from out of area, it’s hard to find trails open to the public here. Truth be known, the main reason that more trails are not open on private land is the high cost of liability insurance and the litigation craze that is sweeping our country. However, there are places where vacationers can stop and ride in the high country. Right here in Watauga County is the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve. There are nightly stall rentals available and accommodations for people in nearby picturesque and historic Blowing Rock. The trails of the Moses Cone Estate adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway are open to trail riders. For more info:


Moses Cone Memorial Park:
Blowing Rock Stables
P.O. Box 26
Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605
(828) 295-7847 - Stables
(828) 295-3782 – Park

To the Northwest of Boone is Mountain City and Laurel Bloomery Tennessee, home to Gentry Creek Country Inn. Gentry Creek is a bed and breakfast that offers the added bonus of a “hotel” for horses, a modern 12 stall barn for visitors use. The Inn is located just 10 minutes from the famous Virginia Creeper Trail, and the riding trails of the Cherokee National Forest and Greyson Highlands State Park.

For more:

Grayson Highlands State park is located just a few short miles from “The Jeffersons” in Ashe County, Jefferson and West Jefferson, and not too much farther from Boone in Watauga County. Grayson Highlands features the higest terrain in Virginia, and also boasts a herd of wild ponies, said to be descended from the Chickasaw Horse and original Spanish stock. The park offers a campground, overnight stables and a place to park your rig.


Grayson Highlands State Park:
829 Grayson Highland Lane
Mouth of Wilson, Va. 24363
phone: (276) 579-7092
Toll Free: 1-800-933-PARK

The Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee and Jefferson National Forest of Virginia are also great places close to Boone and the High Country to continue your horseback vacation, but with one drawback: it’s mostly primitive camping only. Contact the Cherokee National Forest and Jefferson National Forest for more info:

George Washington & Jefferson National Forests:
5162 Valleypointe Parkway
Roanoke, VA 24019
Phone: (540) 265-5100

Cherokee NF:
2800 N. Ocoee St.
Cleveland, TN 37312
Phone: (423) 476-9700

To the South of the High Country are more opportunities to trail ride the gorgeous Appalachians with your horse. Pisgah National Forest has many trails, and the Nantahala National Forest offers horse trails as well. The Moses Cone/Blowing Rock trails mentioned earlier are within and adjacent to the Pisgah National Forest, Grandfather District. The Grandfather Ranger District receives its’ name from Grandfather Mountain, one of the dominant peaks of the area. Ironically, most of Grandfather Mountain is not in the Grandfather Ranger District. The district lies southeast of the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Asheville and Blowing Rock.

Pisgah National Forest:
Grandfather Ranger District
Route 1, Box 110-A
Nebo, NC 28761
Phone: (828) 652-2144

One final place that offers equestrian accomodations is Rugby Creek Cabins and Equestrian Retreat. LOcated in Mouth of Wilson, VA, interested parties may contact the retreat in a variety of ways.

Rugby Creek Cabins and Equestrian Retreat:
1314 Rugby Road, Mouth of Wilson, VA 24363
Phone: (276) 579-4215

Before you go:

Make sure you have the current negative Coggins test results with you at all times, and your horse is up to date on all vaccines, including Strangles, and has been de-wormed. Be sure to de-worm again upon arrival home. Also, it might be a good idea to have your horse re-shod just prior to leaving home. Check your tack thoroughly to make sure it is in good repair, and most important of all, include a ASTM/SEI-certified helmet in your preparations. Riding in the mountains isn’t like riding in the flatlands, and the rocky terrain can easily take your life, or the life of a loved one, in the event of a fall.

While you’re there:

Tread Lightly – Adhere to the Leave No Trace land use ethic. Make yourself hard to hear and see while you’re riding, and make it hard to see that you’ve passed by. Obey all road and trail closures, stay on the marked trail. Excursions off the trail or taking shortcuts can cause erosion or trail damage. Travel in small groups, preferably 6 or less. Avoid tying horses to trees, using a highline instead. Plan your trip to avoid the spring thaw and extended wet weather. Above all, whatever you pack in, pack out. That includes cigarette butts too! Communicate with other trail users like hikers and bikers. Tell them how to pass your horse safely. Hikers and bikers should yield to horses, unless the horseback rider has a better place to pull off. Be a courteous and responsible trail rider and even more trail riding opportunities will open up for you.

Other places to contact for vacation trail riding with your own horse:

Biltmore Saddle and Bridle:
P.O. Box 15072
Asheville, NC 28813 (704) 274-6943
Phone: (704) 274-3757

Cane Creek Park:
Union County Parks
5213 Harkey Rd.
Waxhaw, NC 28173
Phone: (704) 843-3919

Cedar Rock County Parks & Recreation Dept:
217 College St.
Graham, N.C. 27253
Phone: (910) 570-6760

Double D Equestrian Center:
733 Egypt Church Road
Louisburg, NC
Phone: (919) 496-6564

Doughton Park:
District Ranger
49800 Blue Ridge Parkway
Laurel Springs, N.C. 28644
Phone: (910) 372-8568

Goldmine Trails:
Wood, NC
Phone: (919) 853-0184

Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center:
6601 Devil’s Racetrack Rd.
Four Oaks, N.C. 27524
Phone: (919)938-0115

Latta Plantation Park:
Rt. 3, Box 882
Huntersville, N.C. 28078
Phone: (704) 875-1391, (704) 875-0808

Leatherwood Mountains:
512 Meadow Road
Ferguson, N.C. 28624
Phone: (336) 973-8392, (877) 736-8686

Love Valley:
Love Valley, NC 28677
Phone: (704) 592-2024

Old College Farm Trail:
504 South Dekalb St
Shelby, NC 28150
Phone: (704) 484-1731

Sauratown Trails:
Rt. 1, Box 527
Pinnacle, N.C. 27143
Springmaid Mountain
Rt.3, Box 376
Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Phone: (704) 765-2353

Springmaid Mountain:
Rt.3, Box 376
Spruce Pine, NC 28777
Phone: (704) 765-2353

Tanglewood Park:
P.O. Box 1040
Clemmons, N.C. 27012
Phone: (910) 766-9540, (910) 766-0591

Triple JJJ Farms:
1308 Durwood Evans Road
Beulaville, NC 28518
Phone: (910) 289-0889, (910) 285-4469

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