The 20 Best Places for Horseback Riding In/Near Asheville NC

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For many people, horseback trail riding is the ideal weekend getaway

In the Appalachian Mountains (particularly North Carolina and Virginia), the opportunity to ride horses on day trips or multi-day trips is second-to-none.

Lots of beautiful equestrian trails zig-zag through the mountains, and horse camps are available in many North Carolina state parks, national parks, and national forests.

For those looking to explore the North Carolina mountains on horseback, we’ve put together an extensive list of riding companies and equestrian trails for horseback riding in and around Asheville NC.

Whether you’re traveling with your own horses in a trailer, or seeking a guided horseback riding tour while on vacation, these are some of the top places for riding horses near Asheville.

READ MORE: The 30 Best Things to Do in Asheville NC

Horseback Riding In/Near Asheville NC Guide

  1. Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center (Asheville)
  2. Sandy Bottom Trails (Marshall)
  3. Smoky Mountain Trail Rides (Marshall)
  4. The Stables at Bucktown (Burnsville)
  5. Blue Ridge Horse Adventures (Spruce Pine)
  6. Cedar Creek Stables (Lake Lure)
  7. Saddle Up Trail Rides (Pisgah National Forest)
  8. Pisgah Forest Stables (Pisgah National Forest)
  9. Dupont State Recreational Forest
  10. Dutch Creek Trails (Vilas)
  11. Banner Elk Stables (Banner Elk)
  12. VX3 Trail Rides (Blowing Rock)
  13. Carriage Run Carriage Service (Blowing Rock)
  14. Doughton Park (Laurel Springs)
  15. Stone Mountain State Park (Roaring Gap)
  16. Nantahala Village Riding Stables (Bryson City)
  17. Carolina Bound Adventures Horseback Riding (Bryson City)
  18. Deep Creek Horse Camp (Bryson City)
  19. Smokemont Riding Stable (Cherokee)
  20. Nantahala National Forest

 

Horseback Riding Close to Asheville NC

Horseback riding in Asheville NC - Biltmore Estates
Horseback riding at Biltmore Estates Equestrian Center

1. Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center

One Lodge Street, Asheville NC • 828-225-6398

Official Website

The famous Biltmore Estate– the former home of philanthropist George Washington Vanderbilt– offers private two-hour excursions for horseback riding in Asheville.

Theirs are the only Asheville horseback riding tours within the city limits, exploring the trails of the historic property.

Up to four guests at a time are led by an expert guide through the Blue Ridge Mountains estate, which is adjacent to Pisgah National Forest.

In order to go on this ride, participants need a Biltmore day pass or annual pass or an overnight room at the estate.

All horseback riding tour reservations should be made at least a couple of days in advance.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Downtown Asheville Restaurants for Foodies

Horse Riding Near Asheville - The Stables at Bucktown
Photo from The Stables at Bucktown via Facebook

2. Sandy Bottom Trails

1459 Caney Fork Road, Marshall NC • 828-649-3464

Official Website

Sandy Bottom Trails offers 1-hour, 2-hour, and 3-hour tours for horseback riding near Asheville.

Each of these tours traverses routes through the hills in the small town of Marshall NC, just 30 minutes northwest of downtown Asheville.

The 3-hour ride includes a stop for a picnic and a chance to try your hand at gem mining for treasures at the Little Pine Gem Mine.

Even though the terrain varies quite a bit on the rides, the gentle trails are easy enough for beginners of all ages.

READ MORE: The 15 Best VRBO Cabins in Asheville NC

Horseback riding near Asheville NC - Smoky Mountain Trail Rides
Photo via Smoky Mountain Trail Rides

3. Smoky Mountain Trail Rides

1959 Walnut Road, Marshall NC • 828-768-9339

Official Website

Located 30 minutes from Asheville, Smoky Mountain Trail Rides (which is part of a Bison farm) has trails running throughout their 550-acre property. 

The rides are mostly shaded by stately oak trees, climbing from high hilltops down into valleys and providing overlooks of the Eastern Smoky Mountains.

In addition to horseback riding tours, the company has a campground onsite. Overnight guests will get a chance to see local wildlife as well as the farm’s herd of Bison.

Camping on the property includes a campfire and hot meal.

READ MORE: The Top 10 Treehouse Rentals near Asheville, NC

Asheville horseback riding -The Stables at Bucktown
Photo via The Stables at Bucktown

4. The Stables at Bucktown

5904 Bald Mountain, Burnsville NC • 828-678-9370

Official Website

Formerly known as Wolf Laurel Stables, The Stables at Bucktown is located in the charming town of Burnsville NC, about 40 minutes north of Asheville.

The Stables offer 1-hour and 2-hour horseback riding tours through the forest that surrounds the property.

Equestrian therapy is also available, and children can get 30-minute horse riding lessons in the facility’s arena.

“Barn Time” is another option here, offer non-riders a chance to meet some of the stable’s friendly residents.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Burnsville NC

Asheville horseback riding - Blue Ridge Horse Adventures
Photo via Blue Ridge Horse Adventures 

5. Blue Ridge Horse Adventures

PO Box 428, Spruce Pine NC • 828-460-2165

Official Website

For a unique horse experience, Blue Ridge Horse Adventures offers half-day farm tours, including non-riding interactions with their horses.

Equestrian enthusiasts will get a chance to brush, pet, and walk with the horses through a wildflower-strewn meadow.

The 300-acre farm offers picturesque views of Mt. Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Rockies. The facility has hiking trails, an outdoor arena, and a picnic area.

It’s also possible to book stays for time with therapy horses, and take beginner or advanced horse-riding lessons.

Spruce Pine NC is 50 miles northeast of Asheville, and 8 miles north of the unique tourist town of Little Switzerland.

READ MORE: 15 Best Things to Do in Little Switzerland NC

 

Horseback Riding in Hendersonville NC

Cedar Creek Stables -Horseback trail riding Lake Lure NC
Photo of Cedar Creek Stables via Facebook

6. Cedar Creek Stables

542 Cedar Creek Road, Lake Lure NC • 828-625-2811

Official Website

Cedar Creek Stables offers 1-hour and 1.5-hour rides that include a creek and mountain trails.

They’re located in Lake Lure, which is famous as a filming location for Dirty Dancing and one of the best lakes in North Carolina.

The horse trails here meander through thickets of North Carolina Wildflowers (including rhododendron and mountain laurel), with plenty of fresh air and shade.

Their horseback riding tours have a minimum age of 7 and a maximum weight of 240 pounds. They’re well-suited for first-timers, including an instructional lesson before departure.

For those who are new to or nervous about riding, The Stables at Bucktown offers private 1-hour lessons as well.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Hendersonville NC

Horseback riding in North Carolina -Saddle Up Trail Rides
Saddle Up Trail Rides, photo via Facebook

7. Saddle Up Trail Rides

Pisgah National Forest NC • 828-768-9025

Official Website

Saddle Up Trail Rides is located 14 miles west of the North Carolina mountain town of Hendersonville NC.

Rather than riding on a private site, customers of Saddle Up Trail Rides explore the North Mills River and Turkey Pen areas of the Pisgah National Forest.

Saddle Up has 1-hour, 2-hour, and 2.5-hour guided horse rides to choose from. The 1-hour ride is dry, while the other two rides both have water crossings added to the trip.

Riders at Saddle Up need to be at least 10 years old and weighunder 240 pounds. Rides are given by reservation only.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Pisgah National Forest Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Pisgah Forest Stables in NC
Photo via Pisgah Forest Stables

8. Pisgah Forest Stables

Pisgah National Forest NC • 828-883-8258

Official Website

Pisgah National Forest has dozens of miles of horse trails available to those traveling with their own animals, as well as guided horse tours for those looking to rent.

Pisgah Forest Stables offers rides through the national forest, including a 1-hour ride to Perry Cove, and 2-hour or 2.5-hour rides up to the tops of some stunning North Carolina mountains

They also have pony rides available for younger riders.

Pisgah Forest Stables is open seasonally, from April 1 to October 31, and operates six days a week (Monday through Saturday).

All of their guides are First Aid and CPR-certified.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Pisgah National Forest Waterfalls to Explore

horseback trail riding near Asheville NC
Horseback Riding in the forest, photo via Canva

9. Dupont State Recreational Forest

Guion Farm Access Area (Sky Valley Road) or Lake Imagining Access Area (Staton Road) • 828-877-6527

Official Website

For those with their own horses, the Dupont State Recreational Forest has miles of multi-use trails that are open to equestrian riders.

One of the best horse routes in the forest includes several mountain lakes and creeks.

There are also great loops to see the amazing Dupont Forest waterfalls, which include High Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls.

Coggins Papers (a test for Equine Infectious Anemia) are required for all horses. There are random checks in the parking lot, and visitors without papers will be asked to leave.

READ MORE: The 50 Best North Carolina Waterfalls to Visit

 

Horseback Riding in Boone NC

NC horseback riding-Dutch Creek Trails
Photo of Dutch Creek Trails via Facebook

10. Dutch Creek Trails

793 Rubin Walker Rd, Vilas NC • 828-297-7117

Official Website

Horseback riding near Boone NC is easily accessed at Dutch Creek Trails, in the tiny town of Vilas.

These are basically horse trails through the woods and fields of the NC High Country.

Guided horseback riding tours take a little over an hour, so they’re great for a quick trip, with plenty to see and hear about farm life in the NC Mountains.

Wagon rides are also available upon request, and the cowboy lifestyle is a big part of the attraction here.

READ MORE: 20 Best Things to Do in Boone NC

horseback riding Banner Elk NC-Banner Elk Stables
Photo of Banner Elk Stables via Facebook

11. Banner Elk Stables

796 Shomaker Road, Banner Elk NC • 828-898-5424

Official Website

Located near Beech Mountain (which is famous for snow skiing in North Carolina), Banner Elk Stables has a fleet of horses to take visitors around the wilderness.

Some of their gorgeous horses have appeared in major films such as Shallow Hal, Cinderella, and National Treasure.

Guests are also welcome to take photos with Banner Elk’s only water buffalo, Bruno.

This is a family-friendly ride/company that requires advance reservations, and tries to offer a memorable horseback riding experience for family vacations.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Banner Elk NC

 

Horseback Riding in Blowing Rock NC

Horseback Riding in Boone NC -Vx3 Trail Rides
Photo of Vx3 Trail Rides via Facebook

12. VX3 Trail Rides

PO Box 1154, Blowing Rock NC • 828-963-0260

Official Website

Operating in a place that’s legendary among equestrian enthusiasts, Vx3 offers guided horse tours on the 30+ miles of trails at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

Moses Cone Park is a premier place for horseback riding in the NC mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In our opinion, the park is arguably the top spot for horseback riding in North Carolina!

The equestrian trails wind through old apple orchards, around mountain lakes, and along the ridgeline of the Blue Ridge Mountains for top-notch scenic vistas.

VX3 offers customized 2.5-hour tours with a seasoned guide, Tim Vines, on well-trained horses and easy trails.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Blowing Rock NC

Carriage Run Carriage Service
Photo via Carriage Run Carriage Service

13. Carriage Run Carriage Service

1 Bass Lake Drive, Blowing Rock NC • 704-600-5403

Official Website

For those who are not interested in horseback riding, but would like a more passive experience, Carriage Run Carriage Service has you covered.

The Blowing Rock-based company offers horse carriage rides on well-maintained routes.

Leaving from Bass Lake at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, their horse carriage rides last approximately 2.5 hours.

Departures are available in both the morning and the evening, making them a great choice for romantic sunset rides. 

READ MORE: Exploring Julian Price Campground & Memorial Park in Blowing Rock NC

Horseback riding in NC mountains - Doughton Park
Woman horseback riding on trail via Canva

14. Doughton Park

49800 Blue Ridge Pkwy, Laurel Springs NC • 828-348-3487

Official Website

The 7000-acre Doughton Park, the largest recreation space on the entire Blue Ridge Parkway, has a beautiful multi-use trail for horseback riding.

It’s located on Grassy Gap Fire Road, along Grassy Creek, and is designed for people who have their own horses.

The trail can be accessed via Longbottom Road, which lies at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Hikers are also allowed on the trail, but motorized vehicles and bicycles are strictly prohibited.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Elkin NC (Blue Ridge Parkway MM 229)

NC Mountains horseback riding
Mountain horse via Canva

15. Stone Mountain State Park

3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap NC • 336-957-8185

Official Website

About five miles down Longbottom Road from Doughton Park, Stone Mountain State Park also has a great equestrian trails for horse owners.

The equestrian area is in the parking lot closest to Longbottom Road, where the road is still gravel.

There is a 2-mile loop, the Bridle Loop Trail, that can also be extended for an out-and-back ride along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in Western North Carolina.

The Bridle Out-and-Back Trail offers a total four miles of beautiful horseback riding.

READ MORE: Fall in North Carolina: 20 Great Places to See Fall Colors in Western NC

 

Horseback Riding in Bryson City

Horseback Riding near Bryson City - Nantahala Village Riding Stables
Photo of Nantahala Village Riding Stables via Facebook

16. Nantahala Village Riding Stables

9400 Hwy 19 West, Bryson City, NC 28713 • 828-488-9649

Official Website

Nantahala Village Riding Stables is located 9 miles west of Bryson City NC, offering rides near the Fontana Dam in the Nantahala National Forest.

There are 1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour, and 4-hour guided horseback riding tours available, as well as all-day and overnight guided trips.

All of their tours offer magnificent views of Fontana Lake, one of the prettiest reservoirs in Western NC.

The stables are open from 9AM to 5PM, and customers are invited to visit anytime during business hours.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County

Horseback Riding Bryson City NC -Carolina Bound Adventures
Photo via Carolina Bound Adventures

17. Carolina Bound Adventures Horseback Riding

35 Slope Street, Bryson City NC • 828-569-6699

Official Website

A full-service adventure company in Bryson City, Carolina Bound Adventures can help with paddle boarding, train rides, mountain biking, and horse riding near Bryson City NC.

Guided horseback riding trips are available to kids over 5 years old and adults who weigh under 250 pounds.

All of their guided trips takes guests through the Nantahala National Forest, with 1-, 2-, and 3-hour tours available. 

Note that same-day booking is not guaranteed, so it’s best to reserve in advance if your travel itinerary is tight.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Maggie Valley NC

Bryson City horseback riding -Deep Creek Horse Camp
Horses at Lake Fontana, photo via Deep Creek Horse Camp

17. Deep Creek Horse Camp

750 W. Deep Creek Road #11, Bryson City NC • 828-736-1270

Official Website

Bryson City is a great place for families to vacation and explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Deep Creek area has great hiking trails, river tubing, and horseback riding.

The Deep Creek Horse Camp is located just a mile from the Deep Creek trailhead, and they have all the necessary facilities for those traveling with horses.

Their campsites offer 30-amp hookups and water hookups, and the campground also has a full bathhouse with hot showers and toilets.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Waynesville NC

 

Horseback Riding in Cherokee NC

Horseback Riding in Cherokee NC
Elk on the trail at Smokemont Riding Stables, photo via Facebook

19. Smokemont Riding Stables

135 Smokemont Riding Stable Road, Cherokee NC • 828-497-2373

Official Website

Smokemont Riding Stables is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Smokemont Campground.

They offer several different rides, including a 3-mile trip on the Oconaluftee River, a 2.5-hour waterfall ride beside Chasteen Creek, a 4-hour ride along a creek with a few cascades, and wagon rides on Old Turnpike Road.

All of the Smokemont horses are seasoned and appropriate for beginning riders.

Note that all horse riders must be age 5 or older and weigh 240 pounds or less. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Cherokee NC & the Qualla Boundary

Horse in the forest
Horse in the forest, photo via Canva

20. Nantahala National Forest

Official Website

The Nantahala National Forest is riddled with equestrian trails and horse camps that are perfect for long-distance and overnight adventures.

It’s fun to investigate all the areas open to horseback riding, many of which offer facilities for taking horse-bound camping trips.

These include the Tsali Recreation Area, the Standing Indian Area, the Fires Creek Area, and Harmon Den Horse Camp. -by Jonathon Engels; lead photo via Canva

 

Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

After visiting the Western North Carolina for the first time, Jonathon Engels and his wife Emma spent two years looking for a few acres of property there to establish a permaculture homestead. During that search, he explored the Blue Ridge Parkway, surrounding towns, and parks. He has taught at both Blue Ridge Community College and Surry Community College, is a member of a long-established land conservation community near the town of Dobson, volunteers at the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, and continues to explore the Blue Ridge, a place he now lovingly calls home.