Back in the Saddle
Bring your equine friend for a trail ride in Texas parks.
By Aubry Buzek
McKinney Roughs Nature Park (Lower Colorado River Authority)
Dip your horse’s hooves in the cool waters of the Colorado River, stroll through cypress-shaded riverside trails just feet from the water and make the gentle climb to scenic viewpoints overlooking the river and valley beyond. With ample equestrian amenities, stunning views and 12 miles of well-maintained equestrian trails, this is a “can’t miss” day-trip park in Central Texas.
Hill Country State Natural Area
With multiple equestrian campsites ranging from primitive to luxurious, this is THE place to go to experience multiday adventures with your favorite equine companion. This secluded retreat boasts a 50-mile trail system that offers scenery and diverse terrain for every riding level. Overnight group options include a 1930s ranch house that sleeps up to nine people and five horses, and the 2-acre Chapas Camp with 10 campsites and a nine-stall barn.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
It’s a good thing this state park offers dedicated equestrian campsites, because it could take days to see all of the colorful beauty “The Grand Canyon of Texas” has to offer. The 1,500 acres of horseback riding property offer a glorious display of shapely boulders, unique rock formations and bright green flora dotting the red sandstone landscape in this Texas Panhandle treasure. For those without horses, several local outfitters offer guided rides for budding equestrians of all ages.
Sea Rim State Park
Every equestrian dreams of riding a horse on the beach, and this park brings that fantasy to life. With 3 miles of prime Gulf Coast beachfront, you and your hooved sidekick can feel the sea breeze blowing through your manes. Bonus points if you can persuade your horse to take a dip in the ocean. In case you are making a long haul across the state to check beach riding off your bucket list, the park offers a primitive campsite so you and your newly minted sea horse can rest overnight and experience an epic East Beach sunrise.
Guadalupe River State Park
This hidden gem features miles of equestrian trails that wind through ecologically diverse landscapes. On the 2.86-mile Painted Bunting Trail, mosey through an open savannah scattered with live oak trees and spring wildflowers. Although there is no direct Guadalupe River access for horses, peering over the limestone cliff on the River Overlook Trail provides riders and brave mounts with an incredible view of the river flowing below.