5 More Places to Saddle Up

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

You don't have to travel out West for a real cowboy experience. The mid- Atlantic is home to a number of dude ranches and equestrian-focused bed-and-breakfasts.

Warfordsburg, Pa. The 95-acre Buck Valley Ranch, with its four-bedroom guesthouse, is set in a secluded, wooded area. In addition to riding the trails, guests can help groom the horses, enjoy the swimming pool and hot tub and observe wildlife. A two-day, one-night stay includes lodging, two meals and a 90-minute trail ride for $150 per person. The three-day, two-night option, which includes two trail rides, is $250. Riders must be age 7 or older and weigh less than 225 pounds. Info: 800-294-3759, http://www.buckvalleyranch.com.

Rocky Ridge, Md. Double Rock Farm offers day-long "cowboy experiences" on weekdays from mid-May through October (no lodging). The morning is spent riding horses and driving cattle, and the afternoon is devoted to learning how to rope cattle, both plastic and real. The $175 fee includes lunch. Experienced riders can bring their own horses to the farm on some weekends to take part in team penning ($10 per run) or in the Extreme Cowboy Race ($10-$20). Info: 301-447-3550 or 301-606-6810, http://www.dblrockfarm.com.

Swoope, Va. North Mountain Outfitter, a 200-acre working ranch, has two Cowgirl Weekends on tap (June 12-15 and Sept. 11-14, $650 per person), in addition to its regular one- or multi-night stays in rustic, wood-floor canvas tents or a soon-to-be-open bunkhouse. (One night in the bunkhouse is $275 per couple.) Overnight stays include lodging, meals and guided backcountry riding by permit through George Washington National Forest. Beginners are welcome; riders must be age 10 or older and weigh less than 245 pounds. Info: 866-481-4400, http://www.northmtnoutfitter.com.

Stanley, Va. River's Bend Guest Ranch in the Shenandoah Valley is a 260-acre working horse and cattle ranch that offers trail rides ($35 an hour for ranch guests), private lessons ($60 an hour) and pony rides for kids ($30). Hiking, fishing, swimming and other activities are included with lodging. Room rates start at $95 for the bunkhouse and $175 for a one-bedroom cabin. Info: 800-672-7726, http://www.riversbendranch.com.

South Boston, Va. Shangrila Retreat is a family-oriented farm on 500 acres where guests can help care for the chickens, ducks, mules and horses. Activities include pony rides, guided trail rides, campfires and often hayrides or wagon rides. A two-night minimum stay, which includes lodging, meals and activities, starts at $540 per person, with savings for groups of two or more. Info: 434-517-0888, http://www.shangrilaretreat.us. -- T.G.M.

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