Disclaimer: Our visit was hosted, however, all opinions expressed in this article are completely ours and based on our own family’s unique experience.
The Visit Neighboring States Series
Peaceful Stout Creek, stunning mountain views and open meadows will invite you to take in and savor all that the 240 acre ranch has to offer.
Trail rides are scheduled in advance and many different options are available including a 2 hour challenging trail for experienced riders.
Trail ride adventures begin by checking in at the Plain & Fancy BB house along Highway 72.
Coming from Ironton, HWY 72 is accessed by Pine Street off of HWY 21. Grab an area map from the Arcadia Valley Visitor Center located just north of Pine St. along HWY 21. Cell service is unreliable throughout the valley.
After checking in, drive down HWY 72 to the Arcadia Valley Stables entry road. Drive over the narrow Stout Creek bridge and park near the corral.
During our visit, the horses were saddled and hitched to the hitching post, ready to go.
Recent storms had left some branches and damage that was still being cleaned up, but this didn’t distract from the serene landscape.
- Bug spray and sunscreen.
- Regular plastic water bottles.
- Blue jeans will provide the most comfort. Wearing shorts in a leather saddle is not recommend.
- Sturdy closed-toe shoes will be fine for a simple trail or pony ride. Cowboy boots are not necessary. Just like I said in Visit an Iowa Farm, don’t wear flip-flops to the barn!
Trail rides are available for children 8 years and older. Each rider is required to be on their own horse, no double riders. Younger children can have a pony ride and other custom experiences.
All children must wear a riding helmet and adults should too! Don’t be embarrassed. At the local riding barn where my daughter has taken lessons, everyone who rides a horse wears a helmet.
Remember that working with animals and kids takes time. Don’t try to cram a trail ride into an over-scheduled vacation! Plan time to enjoy the excursion.
Upon our arrival, our trail guide Tim took plenty of time to introduce us to each of the horses and explained their history, temperament and quirks.
Together, we chose a horse that was right for each of my children’s level of experience.
My son had never ridden on a horse before and my daughter had taken some lessons. I grew up with horses and greatly enjoyed being paired with a more challenging horse.
The Trail Ride
After a few saddle adjustments, we were on our way. The trail was beyond my expectations. It is beautiful, fun and exciting.
There are fallen logs that the horses step over, small ditches to navigate and a meandering stream to cross over.
Tim took time to be attentive to the children’s needs. It was pretty easy to chat as we went. It was fun to bond with my kids through this experience.
My typically cautious boy surprised me! He really enjoyed himself and had huge smile on his face.
He was so relaxed that several times I had to remind my son to hold onto the reins. I would look back to check on him. He was just sitting in the saddle, leaning back, arms resting on his lap and singing. I reminded him that I don’t let go of the steering wheel when driving a car and so he should not let go of the reins.
The ranch is beautiful. Weaving between the wooded timber and the meadow allows riders to enjoy the best of both. The high rounded mountains rise up on all sides of the ranch.
Diversity in the trail and scenery make the ride go by fast. Picturesque landscapes make you feel like you’re not in the Midwest.
A one hour ride was perfect for my children. For me, the pleasure and ease of the ride left me wanting more!
A Unique Experience
Arcadia Valley Stables offers a break from the state park fun and a unique horse back riding trail experience. Prices are reasonable and around what you would expect for a horse experience in Iowa.
But what you don’t get in Iowa is 360 degree mountain views!
On the top of your Must-Do vacation list should be a trail ride at Arcadia Valley Stables by Plain & Fancy BB.