You may not expect to find horseback riding in Chicago, but there are actually a few places in the surrounding area where you can ride a trail. No experience is required, and they’ll offer some quick instruction before heading out as well as guides to make sure you don’t get lost. Below we’ve got places you can go horseback trail riding in the Chicago area.
When you go horseback riding you’ll need to wear closed-toed shoes and make sure to bring both bug spray and sunscreen. Stables located within Cook County are required to purchase a $4 license for riders ages 12 and up, and they sell them on-site. These licenses are good for a year, so if you think you’ll ride more than once be sure to keep it handy. It’s always a good idea to call in advance to confirm pricing and age and weight restrictions, as well as riding conditions on extremely hot or cold days.
Most of all, have fun!
A Ranch 394
1465 Glenwood Lansing Road, Chicago Heights IL
Just like a roller coaster (though much gentler), you have to meet a minimum age and height requirement (10 yrs old, 58″) to take one of the trail rides. You also have to be under 250lbs. If you do have a smaller child they’ve got pony rides. The trails are in a Cook County Forest Preserve so plan on getting the $4 license. A Ranch 394 is open Thursday through Sunday and they recommend making reservations in advance.
Chain O’Lakes State Park
8916 Wilmot Rd, Spring Grove IL
Take a guided ride at this state park that borders three natural lakes and the Fox River that connects them. You can take rides in 40 minute, 1 hour, 1 1/2 hour, and 2 hour increments. They’re open daily from spring through the end of the camping season and you can make reservations in advance or walk-up for first come, first served. Children must be seven or older to ride on horses; younger kids are limited to pony rides.
12211 S La Grange Rd, Palos Park, IL
Ride the trails year-round at this full-service facility. Rides are about an hour, and the larger your group the lower the price. They recommend that you call first to make reservations. In addition to recreational trail riding, you can also take lessons for both Eastern and Western riding.
Forest View Farms
16717 Lockwood Ave, Tinley Park IL
Located next to a Cook County Forest Preserve, you can take a one hour trail ride, or go for a little longer if you’d like. The trail rides are first come first serve, or you can reserve a private trail ride. Trail riders need to be at least 9 years old and they’ve got pony rides for the little tykes. Before or after your ride you can say hello to pigs, chickens, sheep, and more barnyard pals at the petting farm (additional admission).
Memory Lane Stables
8290 Kean Ave, Willow Springs IL
For more than half a century this southwest-side stable has been serving the Chicago area. They’ve got both horse and pony trail rides through a Cook County Forest Preserve and there’s a petting zoo and picnic area. If there are five or more of you the price is discounted.
Sarah’s Pony Rides
8220 S Kean Ave, Willow Springs IL
Sarah’s has access to 25 miles of trails and is open year-round. Your ride begins with training in the practice ring, and each ride has two guides accompanying it. After your ride (approximately three hours), you can tour the stables to see other animals they care for on the property. Trail rides are available by appointment only, and you can participate in public rides with the guides, or private rides for more advanced riders.
Tower Hill Stables
12n254 Tower Rd, Hampshire IL
This full-service stable and training facility also offers guided trail rides. The hour-long ride will take you through scenic rolling hills, fields and wooded areas, and you’ll also have both water and bridge crossings on horseback. Riders must be at least ten years old, but they also have pony rides and a petting zoo. Make a day of it and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy.
If you’d like to learn more about horse riding in the Chicago area, Groupon has several deals for lessons (affiliate link).
Photo: National Park Service