Cass County's beautiful rolling landscape of lakes, woodlands and meadows was just made for discovering nature by horseback. Whether you bring your own mount or rent a beauty from one of our local riding stables, whether you go exploring on one of our dedicated riding trails or blaze a trail of your own, whether you ride for an hour or seek a days-on-end adventure, Cass County can offer a most memorable riding experience.
Longing for a quiet sojourn through the forest? How about a spirited gallop across a meadow or field? Looking to explore nature miles away from any signs of civilization? Maybe some of all three? Cass County can provide riding options tailored to every interest and level of ability. Remember, this is a county where livestock far outnumber people, where the number of local horses maintained for pleasure nearly equal the number of cattle locally raised, and where our rural agricultural areas have more in common with the ranches of the western plains than the farms of the Midwest.
Where are the best places to ride? Well, the Pillsbury State Forest, west of Brainerd and adjacent to Gull Lake in southern Cass County, offers over 20 miles of riding trails with dedicated areas for jumping, dressage, even special camping with your mount. The best access to their trail system is along Pillager Forest Road just off Co.Rd.77.
The Chippewa National Forest has developed special riding trails in conjunction with Moondance Ranch in the eastern portion of the Shingobee Recreation Area, south of Walker on Hwy 371, and also allows riding along the 60 mile long North Country National Scenic Trail which traverses the entire county from Walker to Remer. And just north of the county above Lake Winnibigoshish, the National Forest Service is now developing a dedicated area for horseback riding and special camping for riders with over 100 miles of trails and forest roads available for extended use. It is called the North Cut Foot Sioux Horse Camp and it is in the beautiful Cut Foot Sioux Recreation Area west of Hwy 46 north of Deer River. [Maps are available by contacting the U.S.Forest Service, Chippewa National Forest, Deer River District, P.O.Box 308, Deer River, MN 56636.
Also, don't forget, the Soo Line Trail in the northeastern portion of Cass County, and unpaved portions of the Paul Bunyan and Heartland State Recreation Trails, north of Walker, provide access for riders to scenic areas little visited by others. Of course, the National Forest along with the county's extensive array of state and county forested lands provide hundreds of miles of additional backwoods trails and primitive logging roads for the truly adventurous.
Need a horse? We sport three private riding stables in the county and each can offer a wide variety of mounts and riding experiences. All are conveniently located close to public forests as well as private riding trails.
Outback Trail Rides offers stable and riding facilities (both horses and ponies) near the many resorts around Gull Lake in southern Cass County, with not only private trails around the stables, but also access to miles of trails in the nearby Pillsbury State Forest. Riding services are provided during daylight hours, seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. For further information, call the Outback Ranch, just north of Pillager on the Pillsbury Forest Road (12606 33rd Av SE).
Moondance Ranch (photo provided by Moondance Ranch) offers over 50 mounts from its location along MN Hwy 371 south of Walker. It features easy access to many miles of riding trails in the adjacent Chippewa National Forest, including an in-season stop at the Ranch's own syrup mill to sample that sweet, natural gift of our own local sugar maples. The facility offers a wildlife park, featuring wolf, bear, bobcat, deer, and other animals, a petting zoo for the kids, nature classes, an on-site restaurant, and a waterslide to cool off. Riding services are provided seven days a week, during all four season, weather and trail conditions permitting.
Looking for something a little different? How about Rodeo Camp for the kids? Open the second week of June, July and August each year, the rodeo camp at Los Gauchos Ranch, just west of Backus on Hwy 64 and south of Hwy 87, teaches kids riding, roping, steer wrestling, and other rodeo skills, and also stages youth rodeos for K-8 grades during the school months. Los Gauchos also conducts periodic riding competions and rodeos for adults.
Happy Riding and Exploring in Cass County!