Briana Verdugo 2016-09-01 12:41:02
From majestic mountains to tropical islands, viewing diverse landscapes on horseback offers a relaxing and unforgettable experience. The movement of the horse’s stride gently sways you back and forth as the sun peeks through mountain ridges and hanging tree limbs to warm your face. The quiet of the woods is only enhanced by the whisper of the horse’s steady, heavy breaths. A guide pulls to the side of the trail and points out a flower native to the region. Fallen golden leaves crunch beneath the hooves of your travel companion for the day as it winds its way through scenic routes where local birds chirp and sing in harmony with the soft breeze. This ethereal scene is common at several horseriding trails near Montage properties. “Sitting on a horse … walking through the woods, you have an opportunity to be aware and to observe,” says Sara Hufstader, equestrian manager at Montage Palmetto Bluff. “On a trail ride, you can really observe the scenery and feel like you’re part of the wilderness experience.” For those who crave journeys in which they’re more deeply connected to the environment around them—as opposed to being merely a spectator—horseback riding is an exhilarating opportunity to engage with nature and revel in all that it has to offer. GUIDED RIDES IN SOUTH CAROLINA Horseback riding is a long-standing tradition at Montage Palmetto Bluff, where the Longfield Stables house good-natured horses meant for leisurely rides through the area’s dense woodland. “Palmetto Bluff is such a beautiful natural area and to see that though the woods, from the back of a horse, is very unique,” says Hufstader, whose own love of riding was fostered at a young age. “Our trail horses are selected for their quiet nature and experience on the trails. The horses are mostly gaited, such as Kentucky Mountain or Tennessee Walking horses. They were historically plantation horses that were selected for their smooth gait … which was conducive to many hours in the saddle,” she explains. Touted as one of the country’s finest training and boarding facilities, the stables sit on 173 acres of greenery. “Anyone can enjoy this nature walk through the woods,” Hufstader says. Trails like “Loop-t-loop” (a one-hour ride) and Old Moreland Road weave through visually captivating locales and often follow old paths from Palmetto Bluff’s past as a large hunting camp. The uncrowded trails make their way through pristine forests full of surprising terrain and wildlife. “Be aware of your surroundings,” Hufstader suggests. “A walk through the woods on horseback can be most revealing when it comes to observing the local flora and fauna.” MOUNTAIN VIEWS IN UTAH Minutes away from Montage Deer Valley, trails that weave through aspen groves and pine trees offer riders picturesque views and stimulating escapades. “Deer Valley is convenient, you don’t have to drive two hours in the middle of nowhere to get to scenery, it’s right here,” says Jane Kerr, manager of Boulder Mountain Ranch at Deer Valley. “It’s at a really nice high elevation and it gives you a fantastic view of the Jordanelle Reservoir and … that view you can’t find anywhere else, it’s absolutely beautiful.” The two-hour ride (with an option to include a picnic lunch) follows a mountainside trail along the east side of Deer Valley. Heavily forested in lush greenery, views on the outing overlook the flourishing landscape below. The knowledgeable guides who lead the trail expeditions add a special touch to the riding experience. While some are well-versed in the flora and fauna of the region, others are history buffs with an awareness of local stories. “We have some of the best guides that there are, we have a lot of guides that have been with us for seven plus years, almost 10 years. So they know the area really well,” Kerr says. “Whether you’re looking for the plants or history or just want somebody that’s going to entertain your kids, we can match up a guide appropriate to your group.” Whether a novice or an experienced rider, the trails at Deer Valley are ideal for a romantic day excursion or a family adventure. TROPICAL TRAILS IN HAWAII Cutting through rolling hills covered in grass, ferns, trees and a variety of foliage, many trails traverse the area surrounding Montage Kapalua Bay. At Ironwood Ranch, located just minutes from the Montage property, trail rides proceed upward to 2,000 feet elevation, offering an extensive perspective of the land and sea below. “From the mountain, when we’re riding, we look right down on the peninsula of Kapalua. We have a view of 180 degrees of ocean … ,” says Virginia Weaver, the head tour guide at Ironwood Ranch. On a trail ride, visitors can explore diverse ecological zones of the Hawaiian island. “We cross through valleys, we ride through Ironwood Forest, kind of like you’re in Lake Tahoe … ,” Weaver explains. “And then we ride through tropical valleys and jungles ... with rock walls and caves and vines hanging down.” The ride allows for ample viewing of the surrounding pristine environment and vistas. “It’s a real ... Hawaiian trail ride,” Weaver says. “You’re going to truly experience what Hawaii is all about.” For more information about riding opportunities, or to book a trail ride while staying at a Montage property, contact your concierge. SITTING ON A HORSE … WALKING THROUGH THE WOODS, YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE AWARE AND … FEEL LIKE YOU’RE PART OF THE WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE. — SARA HUFSTADER
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