Horseback riding has always been more than a recreational pursuit in Grand County — it's a way of life. In fact, it's not uncommon to see horseback riders riding into towns such as Grand Lake.
Once summer rolls around, locals and visitors alike can access hundreds of miles of trails ranging from lonesome saunters through the sage to epic climbs into the rugged Rockies.
For a little guidance, we've provided you with four of the best horseback riding trails in the county — and truly — in all of Colorado.
Located on the eastern side of Grand Lake, the East Inlet trailhead for this popular trail is easy to find, and has a quick reward: less than a quarter mile in, you'll find the tumbling Adams Falls. But after the falls, the trail offers more solitude as it passes several more waterfalls, and eventually climbs past Lone Pine Lake to the spectacular, forested shoreline of Lake Verna. Note: Horses are prohibited beyond Lake Verna.
Saddle up at the Monarch Lake Trailhead and then ride around this beautiful lake, 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 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.
Looking for genuine solitude? 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, where views of the Indian Peaks and Rocky Mountain National Park cap off a spectacular ride.
Want in on a little 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 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.
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.
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