There’s nothing more quintessential than exploring the High Sierra by Horseback as this part of the country was shaped by these beautiful animals. Experiencing how these steeds can tackle a mountainside without a nary misstep is a thing of beauty. Whether you want to hop in the saddle for an hour, a day or even a week, there’s a horseback riding adventure for everyone.

Experience The Eastern Sierra How It Was Explored

Learn more about Eastern Sierra on Horseback

A woman in a plaid shirt petting the horse she's riding with monstrous peaks of the Sierra crest behind her
Image appears courtesy: Bishop Visitor Center

Since the 1st European settler arrived, the only way to explore the vast Eastern Sierra was on horseback. More than a century later, horseback riding is still the perfect way to experience the untouched backcountry and beauty of this region. Enjoy an afternoon in the saddle or plan a more extensive multi-day equine adventure.

Pack Trip

Push your personal boundaries when it comes to horseback riding by signing up for a pack trip. The centuries old tradition is where packing outfits set you up with a well-trained horse along with pack animals like horses and donkeys to carry your baggage for a multi-day excursion deep into the High Sierra. Specialized pack trips include notable destinations in the John Muir Wilderness, Pacific Crest Trail, Onion Valley, and Bishop Creek Canyon. You’ll have fun “horsing around” with these Eastern Sierra Packers, whatever length adventure you choose.

For Kids TOO!

A child smiling gleefully on a horse while going on a trail ride in the High Sierra with Rainbow Pack Outfitters
Image appears courtesy: Bishop Visitor Center

You could say the Eastern Sierra is heaven for horseback riding. If you’ve ever wanted to get your kids on a horse, you should mosey on over to Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit. From mid-June to September, they offer a riding option for children as young as 3-6 years old. These little cowboys and cowgirls can go on a 20-minute walk & lead ride on an experienced horse or mule with an accompanied adult or parent. For more about this experience and others, check out Visit Mammoth’s Family Friendly horseback riding article.

Canter Over To Emigrant Wilderness

Two people on horseback on a dusty trail overlooking the High Sierra
Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne – Photo by: Emily Taylor

It isn’t just in the Eastern Sierra that has a lot of history with horseback riding. For more than eight decades, the Aspen Meadow Pack Station in the Western Sierra has been guiding hunters, anglers, and riders into the High Sierra. Less than twenty miles from the quaint town of Twain Harte, they offer quick one-hour excursions to all-day or longer trips into the Emigrant Wilderness. Take in the towering peaks. Granite basins carved by glaciers. A landscape dotted with lakes and speckled with wildflowers.

Explore Lake Tahoe by Hoof

Learn more about Horseback riding in Tahoe

Horseback Riding in the High Sierra Zephyr Cove Stables Tahoe South
Image appears courtesy: Visit Lake Tahoe

If you’re chomping at the bit for an adventure, why not explore Lake Tahoe from a different perspective? How about from the saddle of a strong and sturdy Tahoe horse? Trot through meadows and forests with unbelievable views of the lake while making a connection with a gentle giant. And don’t worry about your equestrian experience. The trail horses are calm and the tour guides helpful, providing the perfect combination for first-time riders.

Gallop To Fun With Piping Rock In Truckee

horseback riding near Truckee California
Image appears courtesy: Piping Rock Equestrian Center – the staff at Piping Rock “horsing” around

You’ve mountain biked Truckee’s world-class singletrack. Hiked along the Donner Lake Rim Trail. Rock climbed the classic California granite at Donner Summit. Heck, you’ve even gone to Truckee Thursdays for some live music and shopping. But have you taken in the countryside by horse? Piping Rock Equestrian Center, near Boca, offers a wide range of trail rides that suit first-time cowpokes to veteran horseman or women. Amble through Jeffrey pines and cross mountain streams. Or better yet, go for a sunset ride through the Sierra. It’s no wonder this is one of Visit Truckee-Tahoe’s featured activities for summer.

Giddy Up! See Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks By Horseback

grant grove horse stables
Image appears courtesy: Visit Visalia

Guided horseback rides are available to the public in summer at two horseback riding stables (Cedar Grove & Grant Grove) operated under a concession permit in the Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. Riding the trails by horse gives visitors a unique perspective on the stunning scenery of the national parks. All that horsepower enables you to cover far more ground with the kinship of a trusty Sierra steed.

Mount Up To See The Giants From A Steed

Go back in time to 1903 by hopping into the saddle just the way Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir would have. Departing daily from the Wawona Stable, the one or two-hour horseback rides traverse a historic wagon road through luscious forests with glimpses of the Wawona Hotel. Or one step further, set off for an all-day ride to Mariposa Grove and the Giant Sequoias the same way these men who started the idea of national parks saw them.

Go Ride With REAL Cowboys

Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite-Madera County

Just outside of Yosemite in the little haven known as Fish Camp you’ll find Yosemite Trails Horseback Adventures. For more than a half century, Yosemite Trails has been and still is bringing their American Quarter Horses and Black Angus to the high country. Every spring they move their stock from Lazy K Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley up to the High Sierra. As such, their horses learn as youngsters how to travel in the Sierra making them more “sure footed” than most horses. From one-hour rides on the Big Creek Trail to a five-hour sojourn to the 2,000 year old Grizzly Giant Sequoia, you’ll come with stories to tell for a lifetime.

Although people may not think “fitness” when they consider taking the reins, a day in the saddle will kick you in the rear. It may look like the horse is doing all the work. But as a rider, it takes balance, strong legs, and a stable core to stay upright. So, hop on a horse this summer and truly feel the air, smell the foliage, and see the High Sierra’s beauty in a unique way.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex founded Local Freshies® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

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