It all started with a “shelter at home” mandate which began Thursday, March 19, 2020 in SLO County. We all thought about the question, “Can I ride my horse?” The mandate recommends that citizens get outside and walk, hike, run, and bike ride. Riding a horse fits in the get outside part of that recommendation. However, since that first mandate, the ability to ride our horses on the beach and other trail locations has been tightening. Now as of May 1, 2020 all Orange County Beaches will be closed. With the looming idea of having all beaches closing along with stopping access to State Parks, the question now becomes, “Where can I ride my horse in SLO County?”
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Where Can I Ride My Horse in SLO County?
With the beaches limited because of the parking lots being closed, and other reliable trail riding locations closed, we are all asking, “Where can I ride my horse?”
There are a few places in SLO County where you can still ride your horse. I would highly recommend calling ahead to be sure but here are several places in SLO County where you might still have the freedom to ride.
Los Flores Ranch
This undiscovered gem is open for the enjoyment of horseback riders, hikers and mountain bikers. In fact, they have recently extended their hours to Wednesday – Sunday and have waived the entrance fee. The equestrian parking is back off Dominion Road (not off exit 161 from the 101). For more information on this beautiful place to ride see our story: Trail Riding Los Flores Ranch – An Undiscovered Gem.
Many Nipomo trail options will take you through well-groomed neighborhood trails, beside vineyards, along the bluff and through woodlands. The Ride Nipomo Equestrian Trails Alliance has these trails described on their website. For more information about Ride Nipomo Equestrain Trails Alliance meet the powerful band of horse people through our story: There is Power in a Band of Horse People : Ride Nipomo.
Lake Lopez Trails
The Marina at Lake Lopez Recreational Area opened back up on April 24, 2020. A notice on a news story provides definition on access to Lopez Lake Recreational Area:
The Lopez Lake Recreation Area has remained open to the public during the pandemic, with restrictions. The San Luis Obispo County Parks and Recreation Department is allowing only the first 320 cars and 50 boats into the park each day. Camping remains prohibited until further notice.
There are several places to ride on the Lopez Lake trails where one can experience lake views or shady oaks. There is an entrance fee for cas, trucks and trailers plus animals. For more information on Lopez Lake trails see our two stories: Duna Vista Loop Trail – and Horse Trails Rides at Lopez Lake.
Santa Margarita Lake Trails
As everywhere, the campground at Santa Margarita Lake Recreational Area is closed, but the trails appear to be open. There are two locations where you can stage a ride at Santa Margarita Lake. The first is through the main entrance, the second is at the backside with access to the natural area. A fee is required for both areas. For more information regarding trail rides at Santa Margarita Lake see our two stories: Riding the SLO County Trails: Santa Margarita Lake and a story about the proposed camp area which includes where to stage for access to the backside natural area Horse Camping at Santa Margarita Lake Coming Soon!
Cass Vineyard and Winery
The gracious people at Cass Winery have allowed horseback riding through their vineyards, although they do require you sign a waiver. You should call ahead to be sure, and while you are at it order a lunch or dinner to go . . . of course with a bottle or two of wine. For more information on riding at Cass Winery see our story: Cass Vineyard and Winery: Horseback Riding and a Whole Lot More.
SLO County Beaches and State Parks
Right now the SLO County beaches and State Parks remain open, however access has been restricted. The parking lots and staging areas have been closed or severely limited. The horse staging areas at both Pismo and Morro Strand are fenced off. The camping area at Montana de Oro is closed, but trails are open.
So, to answer the question, “Where can I ride my horse?” check out any of the the above trail ride locations. Before heading out, I highly recommend calling ahead to be sure riding is open at these locations. Happy Trails!
Get going! Looking for trails to ride in SLO County? This hotsheet will get you going on a few of the top rides. Get this delivered to your e-mail and join the SLO Horse News herd to stay up-to-date on herd happenings. Click here > SLO County Trails Hot Sheet to get going!