You may already know that if you take Tennessee Valley Road in southern Mill Valley all the way to the end, you arrive at the Tennessee Valley trailhead where you can park and start down the trail into the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. What you may not have know is that you also arrive at the Miwok Livery Stables, a Park Partner of the National Park Service that offers a full recreational horseback riding program to the public.
The stables are ideally located away from inhabited areas and surrounded by the GGNRA and all of its wonderful trails. They have been providing lessons, trail rides and camps for over 30 years to the public. Their kids summer camps are so popular that they sell out every year way before summer ever arrives.
There are a number of aspects to the trail rides that make them quite different from the typical group format, where you’re given a dispirited horse and simply follow along in a line behind the trail guide. Here, the trail rides are limited to just a few riders, and the trail guide is one of the highly trained Miwok Stables staff members who are all certified by the American Riding Instructors Association and have been at the stables for a minimum of seven years, but most for decades! They point out the flora and fauna of the park and really make it an educational and fun ride. You need to make reservations in advance (see below).
And, if you’ve always wanted to learn to ride, or you used to but you’re out of practice, they offer 10-session courses from introductory to advanced. In the introductory course, you start with the most basic aspects, like proper clothing and how to move safely around the horse.
Speaking of the horses, there are 26 of them, in a number of different breeds, ages, and backgrounds. The staff regards the horses as just as important teachers as the humans. The horses are matched carefully to the rider for the greatest “fit” in terms of personality and experience level.
The Miwok Stables Center is the non-profit part of the organization that has been focused on providing public access via riding to the GGNRA as well as on preserving and restoring the facilities that were part of the original dairy farm built here in the late 1800’s by Portugese immigrants.
This Easter Sunday, there’s a special Easter Egg Hunt program to come and enjoy, and it’s free. It starts with an open house at 11:30 and then the egg hunt for kids is at noon. Bring a basket!
Where: 701 Tennessee Valley Road, Mill Valley CA 94941 (map)
Miwok Livery Stables website
Miwok Stables Center website