Throughout the NC Triad’s beautiful Yadkin River Valley and all across the Sauratown Mountain Range are opportunities for equestrians—and you don’t even have to leave the city limits if you don’t want to! Tanglewood Stables, in Clemmons’s historic Tanglewood Park, hosts trail rides that follow the Yadkin River as it passes through the park. You can also get riding lessons for every age and ability level and reserve pony rides, hay rides, and carriage rides for groups of almost any size.
Pilot Mountain State Park & Beyond
Further out in nature, north of Winston-Salem, Pilot Mountain State Park’s Yadkin Island Trail welcomes humans and their horses year-round for a short but scenic 1.1-mile one-way natural surface trail. Spend more time on horseback on the park’s Corridor Trail, a 6.6-mile natural surface trail that crosses creeks and passes through hardwood and pine trees.
If you’re bringing a mount, trailers can be left at the Hauser Road and Culler Road parking areas, while those looking to make a new equine friend for a day have multiple local stables to choose from. Bregman Trail Riding & Stables and Cardinal Stables & Riding Academy offer riding instruction for visitors of every skill level and lead daily guided riding tours of Pilot Mountain State Park.
These stables also lead rides on the 25-mile Sauratown Trail, which connects Pilot Mountain State Park and Hanging Rock State Park, where you have still more options for horseback trails. The Ruben Mountain Trail is a 2.9-mile natural surface that encircles Ruben Mountain and offers stunning views of Brown Mountain in the distance.
Combining Camping and Horseback Riding
Unsurprisingly, Uwharrie National Forest—more than four times larger than Hanging Rock State Park and Pilot Mountain State Park combined—has abundant options for horseback riding, including two year-round horse camps for those riders looking to spend more than a day exploring the National Forest’s 40 miles of trails.
While no reservations are needed at the primitive camping site at Badin Horse Camp, you’ll want to reserve your site well in advance at Canebrake Horse Camp. In addition to showers, restroom facilities, and electrical hookups, Canebrake offers hitching racks, a horse-washing facility, and tack tables.
You’ll want to extend your stay indefinitely to explore the national forest’s more than 20 trails, with multiple easy, moderate, and difficult options to suit riders of every ability. Trails like Leslie, Big Rock Loop, and the Lake Trail will bring you alongside gorgeous Badin Lake and trails like Helen’s Loop, Burl Tree Way, and Wren allow you to disappear deep into the park’s perfectly preserved forests.