Best Horseback Riding in Colorado: Our Favorite Trails & Ranches
Once warm weather rolls around, locals and visitors alike can access hundreds of miles of pine-lined horseback riding trails ranging from lonesome saunters through the sage to epic climbs into the rugged Rockies. For a little guidance, here are some spots and tips for the best horseback riding in Colorado found right in Grand County.
Top Trails for Horseback Riding in Colorado
- East Inlet Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
- Monarch Lake Trails, Indian Peaks Wilderness
- Byers Peak Trail, Byers Peak Wilderness
- Parika Lake & Baker Gulch Trail, Never Summer Wilderness
1. EAST INLET TRAIL, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Ideal For: The Rocky Mountain National Park experience
Located on the eastern side of Grand Lake, the East Inlet trailhead for this popular path is easy to find, and has a quick reward. Less than a quarter mile in, you'll find the tumbling Adams Falls, where you can wander around and uncover new perspectives on the rushing waters. After you lope near the rushing falls, the trail offers more solitude, passing several more waterfalls, and eventually climbing past Lone Pine Lake to the spectacular, forested shoreline of Lake Verna.
Note: Horses are prohibited beyond Lake Verna.
2. MONARCH LAKE TRAILS, INDIAN PEAKS WILDERNESS
Ideal For: Fishers and lake lovers
Saddle up at the Monarch Lake Trailhead and then ride around this tranquil body of water, keeping an eye open for nesting osprey in the tall pines that line the shore. At the lake's inlet, you can cast a line for sparkling brook, brown, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Or stay in the saddle and climb into a high-alpine cirque in the rugged Indian Peaks Wilderness, just below Caribou Pass.
3. BYERS PEAK TRAIL, BYERS PEAK WILDERNESS
Ideal For: Vista views and lots of quiet
Looking for genuine solitude among the Rockies? Odds are good you'll find it in the Byers Peak Wilderness, a little-known protected area southwest of Fraser. The Byers Peak Trail is a great day ride, climbing through tall stands of forest to the high elevations of Byers Peak. There, crystal-clear craggy views of the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park cap off a peaceful ride.
4. PARIKA LAKE & BAKER GULCH TRAIL, NEVER SUMMER WILDERNESS
Ideal For: Wildlife and solitude
Want in on a little Colorado secret? The Never Summer Wilderness. Hugging the western boundary of the national park, this lightly used area is home to some of Colorado's largest trees, a healthy population of moose and elk, and a unique perspective of Rocky Mountain National Park's signature peaks. Aptly named, the area is often locked in with snow late into the summer. But once it’s clear in late June, the trail to Parika Lake via the Baker Gulch Trail is a true gem. The trailhead is in the national park, which you exit on the trail.
Note: During busy seasons, Rocky Mountain National Park visitors may require time-entry permits. Ensure you have your reservation ready before entering the park.
Horseback Riding Lessons in Colorado
If you are new to the horseback riding, we strongly urge that you learn the basics in Grand County with a qualified outfitter or dude ranch. Some popular options within two hours of Denver include:
- C Lazy U Dude & Guest Ranch (Granby)
- Drowsy Water Ranch (Granby)
- Latigo Ranch (Kremmling)
- Bar Lazy J Guest Ranch (Parshall)
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