Hit the Trails: Horseback Riding in Shenandoah National Park

If you're ready to escape the smoggy summer days in Washington (and you are, aren't you?), look no further than Shenandoah National Park. Only 75 miles west of D.C., the park offers a chance for visitors to get back in touch with nature -- and maybe even do so on horseback.

Skyline Resort (entrances at miles 41.7 and 42.5 in the park) offers visitors guided horseback rides from spring through fall. Parkgoers can take either hour-long or 2 1/2 hour rides through scenic Blue Ridge trails.

Riders must be taller than 4'10" and weigh less than 250 pounds. If children want to ride but aren't tall enough, Skyline Resort offers pony rides as long as their feet reach the stirrups.

Prices range from $7 for 15-minute pony rides to $90 for the longer 2 1/2 hour rides. To reserve a spot on one of the five daily time slots, call Skyline Resort at 877-847-1919. Find more info here.

Riders with their own four-legged means of transportation are welcome to use 180 miles of park trails open to horse and rider, including steep trails for experts and smoother ones for beginners. Get trail maps here.

Lodging is available at Skyline Resort, Big Meadows Lodge, Lewis Mountain Cabins and any flat surface where a tent will fit.

But if you're hoping to keep your whinnying travel companion with you overnight, call the park at 540-999-3500 ahead of time to make plans. Horses can stay at commercial boarding facilities near the park or with campers following specific guidelines. Shenandoah National Park also created overnight horse trip plans to help visitors get the most out of their ride and stay in the park.

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