Trail Riding

  • Promote the unique qualities of your land such as wildlife viewing or historic sites that can be viewed while riding
  • Liability insurance is important
  • Have participants sign a release in advance of the ride
  • Set ride rules that promote safety

Trail Riding - Horses, ATV's and Bicycles

As the popularity of outdoor recreational activities increases, many landowners are opening their properties to the public for trail riding. Riding on scenic trails is enjoyed by people of all ages and serves as a short getaway as opposed to more expensive conventional tourist activities.

Landowners need to establish wide, safe and well-maintained trails suitable for horse riding. Because safety will be an issue, it is important that those starting trail riding businesses only use well-trained, good-natured horses that are seen regularly by veterinarians. There are options to consider, such as letting riders enjoy courses on their own or offering them rides led by an experienced rider, or perhaps letting them bring their own horses. Some landowners find that offering separate trails for bike riding and ATV use can be profitable.

Successful trail riding ventures offer amenities such as picnic areas, campgrounds, trailer pads and restrooms. Marketing a trail riding business can be as simple as establishing a website and advertising at local riding clubs, feed stores, and tack shops. Trail riders are usually interested in experiencing nature, so the more scenic the trails, the more popular they will be.

Other Publications

Equestrian Trail Riding as an Alternative Enterprise: Handbook for Ranchers and Farmers (PDF)
Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association, Texas A&M, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

This publication discusses the many things to take into consideration when planning a trail riding enterprise including the ranch and its facilities, food provided, ride organization, cost, and marketing. It also covers liability issues and provides some survey information from ride attendees.

Considerations for Getting Started in the Horse Trail Riding Business (PDF)
University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development

This detailed paper presents the target market for horse trail riding businesses in Georgia, discusses market potential, the facilities required for this business, and gives a competitor and situational analysis of the business.

Location and Design of Recreational Trails: Application of GIS Technology (PDF)
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This Master's thesis discusses using GIS to design trails for recreational use. Poorly located and designed recreational trails increase maintenance costs, resource degradation, and the inefficient utilization of public resources. The potential application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to this specific type of problem is examined through the comparison of hypothetical trail routes generated by several different methods, existing trail field surveys, office design, GIS user-assisted design, and cost path analysis design. Each method is compared statistically and qualitatively by GIS methods and office based methods. Each hypothetical trail is ranked according to effectiveness of design, providing insight into trail design methods. The office designed hypothetical trails were consistently ranked highest by an expert forest road designer.

Trail Design to Minimize Environmental Damage and Enhance User Enjoyment (PDF)
Purdue University

Trails should be designed for both environmental protection and use. This publication provides information to minimize damage when designing trails.