Spring is here. The rain and mud are dissipating and the horses are and getting riding fit. In addition, the winter hair is gone and are starting to look presentable. For many riders, late spring and early summer is one of the prime times of the year to hit the trails and enjoy the greenery and wildflowers without the bugs and heat. Where can you go for an afternoon or weekend? There are several options within an hour driving distance from central Lancaster City.
Less than 30 minutes:
Slate Run is a historical farm and part of the Columbus Metropark’s system and the closest place that has public horseback trails. Although there are only 2-3 miles of trails, it has a great picnic area. There is one creek, one hill and one wood bridge and it is a very good place for beginner/young riders or green horses. It is located in Canal Winchester.
About 30-55 minutes:
Licking County really supports their horse owners and maintains three parks with horse trails, Infirmary Mound (Granville),Taft Reserve (Newark), and Lobdelle Reserve (Alexandria). Each has about 6 miles of well-maintained bridle trails. Always check their Website before you go, as they close trails during bad weather. This is another good place for beginner or intermediate riders.
Hocking Hills State Forest is probably one of the most popular place to trail ride in Ohio. It is located southwest of Lancaster near Rockbridge. There are about 40 miles of trails and some are rugged and hilly. It has a large overnight primitive horse camp area.
Deer Creek State Park is located near Mt Sterling Ohio and is another nice easy day riding area for beginners or green horses. Relatively level with about 14 miles of riding trails. Right now there is some gas line construction going through the park, but the trails are open.
About an hour, maybe a hair over.
Tar Hollow is another State Forest located northeast of Chillicothe. It has 33 miles of designated horse trails. They are a little easier than those at Hocking State Forest. It also has a large primitive campground.
Great Seal is part of the Ohio State Parks system and located northwest of Chillicothe. The terrain is mostly wooded and hilly. There are some challenging climbs – such as the steep trail up Sugarloaf Mountain that rises 500 ft in a quarter mile. Overall there are 23 miles of trails and a primitive horse campsite with picket lines.
Stone Church Horse Camp is southeast of New Lexington and has about 21 miles of trails with several loops. The hills are moderate and footing drains well since it is reclaimed strip mine. There is a primitive overnight camping area with paddocks for your horse (there is a nightly camp fee). Stone Church is part of Wayne National Forest and you need to obtain a trail permit to ride there. Permits can be obtained online but Ackers Motorcycle Shop in Lancaster also sells them. Ackers only takes cash for these permits (cost: day $12, 3-day $24, season $45). Permits are good at all the National Forest Parks.
Scioto Trails State Forest, located southeast of Chillicothe, has been called “The Little Smokies of Ohio.” They have about 21 miles of horse trails some of which are more on the challenging side. There is day riding use only and most trailers park off road near the office.
All in all, there are lots of options for trail riding in and near Fairfield County.