Hocking Hills Horseback Riding: Top 5 Places To Hit The Trail

Hocking Hills horseback riding trails and equine-friendly primitive camping abound in the southern Ohio region. Hopping into the saddle and hitting the trail is one of the most popular activities for visitors of all ages at the second largest outdoor attraction in the Midwest.

Visitors to the Hocking Hills can bring their own horse and ride the miles of bridle trails available at both state parks and at private riding venues. Guided trail rides on rented horses are also available in the three county area which comprises the region.

hocking hills horsecamps
Hocking Hills bridle trails traverse hundreds of miles of pristine state forest land in multiple counties. (Image by Shutterstock.com)

Horseback riding age limits and guidelines for youth riders vary by location. Printable bridle trail maps can be downloaded from the state park and riding venue websites. If planning to rent a horse or secure the services of a trail guide while in the Hocking Hills, making reservations well in advance is recommended, especially during the fall months.

Top 5 Hocking Hills Bridle Trails

  1. The Hocking Hills State Forest offers both a primitive camping area with 23 campsites for horse lovers and four bridle trails. There is no fee to use either the trails or the primitive camping area. Visitors self-register at the horse camp. Both the day use and overnight campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. Some of the Hocking Hills bridle trails within the state park traverse very rugged terrain and might be too intense for beginning riders. The trails are well-marked and maintained. Riding in streams and through the caves is prohibited, the Hocking Hills tourism website notes.
  2. Zaleski State Forest offers about 50 miles of moderate level bridle trails. Many of the trails cross streams as you wind through the more than 100-year-old hardwood forest. The light blue trail takes riders along the longest creek in the United States, Raccoon Creek, Trail Rider Magazine notes. The popular Hocking Hills bridle trail watering spot is just one foot shy of being a river. Elevations on the trails range from approximately 700 to 1,000 feet. The Zaleski State Park also offers a primitive horse camp and day use parking area, free of charge to visitors. The equine camping area is also operated on a self-registration and first come, first served basis.
  3. Tar Hollow State Park is the third largest state park in the country and encompasses 16,000 acres. A total of 33 miles of trails in the park have been designated for horseback riding. The bridle trails are well-marked, but are steep and rugged in nature and could prove difficult for novice riders. The Tar Hollow State Park bridle trails see heavy use on the weekend and holidays. The large and primitive Tar Hollow horse camp fills up quickly. Very little day use parking is available at the free and first come, first served campground.
  4. Falll colors at Hocking Hills State Park [Image by The Awkward Globetrotter/Shutterstock]
  5. The Moonville Rail Trail has been a labor of love for outdoor enthusiasts and horse owners since 2001. A group of volunteers began clearing trails and revamping the old railroad bridge and tracks into a haven for those seeking muscle-powered activities in the Hocking Hills region. The Moonville Rail Trail system, when completed, will extend through portions of three counties. Thanks to the efforts launched by the late Neil Shaw, the Moonville Rail Trail bridge was finally completed and opened for use on October, 7, 2016, the Athens Messenger, reports. Visitors can ride a horse, bicycle, or hike the trail, which includes a route going through the “haunted” Moonville Tunnel.
  6. The Spotted Horse Ranch is located in Laurelville. Visitors can rent a horse to go on a guided trail ride, or bring their own horse and follow the 25 miles of well-marked trails at the Hocking Hills equine facility. The 500-acre property, which also boasts a primitive campground, hosts special events for riders throughout the year. There is a fee to ride the trails and to camp at the Spotted Horse Ranch. Most of the trails are beginner safe and offer gradual grades and level terrain, in addition to some more rugged bridle trails for experienced riders.

Horseback weddings are not uncommon in the Hocking Hills and are possible at both state parks and commercial riding venues.

[Image by Vanessa Nell/Shutterstock]