The Great Outdoors: Horseback, Pony Rides Fun for Entire Family

| June 17, 2017

horseback-ridingHorseback and pony rides are a great way to enjoy nature and the Great Outdoors Region has many different outfitters and trails available.

Kids love a pony ride, and when they get older, horseback rides allow adventurers to get into places they might not have the time to reach by other means.

The PA Great Outdoors has several options for riding and one of those is the Thunder Mountain Equestrian Trail in the Elk State Forest.

Developed in 1994, it covers 26 miles and loops through the 200,000-acre state forest. The trail is easy to follow and has clear markings. The trailhead is located just off Hicks Run Road in Elk County.

Seeing a wide array of wildlife, including elk, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and others, is a great possibility.

Camping is also allowed on the trail system, but permits need to be acquired first by calling 814-486-3353. For trail maps, go to

The horse-drawn wagon and sleigh rides at the Elk Country Visitor Center are another popular option in the elk range. Call to make a reservation at 814-787-5167.

Another good place for riders to camp is at the Big Elk Lick Horse Camp, located on Route 555 near Benezette. They can be reached at 814-787-4656.

The Allegheny National Forest has a 40-mile equestrian trail. The Spring Creek Trail begins at the Kelly Pines Campground off Route 66 in Marienville. It covers nearly 40 miles of the most stunning scenery in the country.

There is no fee to use the new Spring Creek Trail. Groups larger than 75 members and groups that charge a fee for an event need to acquire a permit in advance from the Marienville Ranger Station by calling 814-927-5734.

Spring Creek Horse Trail, located just outside of Marienville in the Allegheny National Forest, winds through a beautiful remote area of the forest for nearly 40 miles. Horses are permitted on hundreds of miles of Forest Service roads in the Allegheny National Forest.

For more information contact the Marienville Ranger Station at (814) 927-5734 or visit the ANF website at

The Flying W Ranch is also a great place to take a horse ride through the Allegheny National Forest. It offers daily, weekend, or weeklong vacations. It is located on Route 666 in Kellettville, approximately 12 miles northeast of Tionesta.

They will be hosting the 38th Annual Allegheny Mountain Championship Rodeo from July 27-29.

Sharon’s Horse Heaven Cabin and Camping near Marienville is another great place to start an adventure into the Allegheny National Forest. Sharon’s Horse Heaven has 60 acres of fields, trails, pine groves, and apple orchards.

The barn has eight box stalls and eight secure paddocks with strands of flexible horse-safe fencing. It also has many different options for camping. They can be reached at 724-355-4844.

The Cook Forest region has several great options for those wishing to try a variety of horseback rides. Pine Crest Cabins, Camping, Horses and Canoes offers one-hour and 30-minute rides for young and old alike. They are located off Route 36 in Cook Forest and can be reached at 814-752-2200.

The Cook Forest Area Scenic Trail Ride and Dude Ranch, located on Milo Road, has from one-hour to five-hour trail rides and a Clarion River all-day ride, week-long events, campground, bunkhouses, meals, swimming pool, and cabins. Call 814-226-5985 or 814-856-2081 for more information, or visit their website.

Cook Forest and Clear Creek State Parks also feature trails for horse riding.


“The Great Outdoors,” sponsored by the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors, is a weekly blog by’s Scott Shindledecker. Plan your next outdoor adventure at or call (814) 849-5197 for more information.

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