One way to experience Canaan Valley, as well as some of the relatively nearby mountain attractions, such as Seneca Rocks, is on horseback. If you don’t have horses of your own — or you’re a novice rider — no worries. The local riding outfits can accommodate you easily.
And although the rides are kid friendly — kids as young as 6 years old have gone along — you don’t have to have kids along to enjoy the ride. It’s quite romantic to slowly walk up the side of a mountain with your loved one, with your only expended effort being to dodge branches. You really don’t even need to steer — the horses generally seem to know their way.
Over the years, I’ve taken my family on three trail rides: up to Seneca Rocks and twice through the Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
During your ride up through Canaan Valley Resort State Park, you’re likely to see white-tailed deer or even a black bear in their natural habitat. There are frequent wildlife sightings and photo opportunities along the trail as you ride through wooded forests and mountain meadows to vantage points near Bald Knob. These trails are used only for riding horses, and provide spectacular views of Canaan Valley – the highest valley east of the Mississippi River.
Tip #1: Dress appropriately! Jeans (or pants) and reasonable shoes, such as hiking boots or sneakers. Don’t wear flip flops.
Tip #2: When they offer you a helmet, say yes. One horse my husband was riding decided that a doe was a wild and crazy creature, to be avoided at all costs. Although he stayed on when the horse reared and bolted (a very unusual occurrence, by the way), had he fallen we’d have been grateful for the helmet. Plus, branches that a horse can duck aren’t always avoidable by an inexperienced rider.
Hours: Check the outfits websites for times and locations.
Dogs: Not for the trailrides, no.
Websites: http://www.mountaintrailrides.com; www.yokumstables.com