Family-Friendly Horseback Riding in Mammoth Lakes

Oct 15, 2020

If you or your children have dreamed of horseback riding in the Eastern Sierra, you’ll find many options to make those dreams come true in Mammoth Lakes and nearby areas just outside of town. You can enjoy scenic views of the Mammoth Lakes Basin with very young children at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit and go for longer half-and full-day trips throughout the region with older children.

Read on to know what to expect on a guided ride in the mountains and to find out which pack outfit might best suit your family’s needs.

How to Plan for a Horseback Ride

What to Wear Horseback Riding in Mammoth Lakes

Even in the summer, you’ll want to wear pants when riding horses. In addition to pants, make sure to have sun protective clothing and a hat to protect from the sun at high altitude. (You can read more on Family-Friendly Tips for Adjusting to High Altitude here.) Wear close-toed shoes and bring a light anorak or rain jacket if it may rain.

Children will also be required to wear a helmet when riding. You may bring your own or use a helmet provided by the pack outfit.

What to Bring Horseback Riding in Mammoth Lakes

Many families travel with water and snacks for their littles, however when horseback riding, most pack outfits prefer you avoid bringing backpacks or purses. If you are going for a shorter 20-minute Walk & Lead ride (available at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit), you can leave your snacks behind or the person leading the horse can bring a bag.

For a longer half-or full-day excursion, the pack outfits will kit out the horses with horn bags on your saddle. You can stash water, snacks, your phone and a jacket in the bags and not worry about bringing along a backpack.

Family-Friendly Horseback Riding in Mammoth Lakes

Walk & Lead Rides for Young Children at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit

The Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit is located in the Mammoth Lakes Basin and is open seasonally, mid-June through September, seven days a week, from 7:30am to 5pm. The pack outfit offers a riding option for children as young as 3-6 years old. These little riders can go on a 20 minute Walk & Lead ride on a safe and experienced horse or mule, while led by a parent or accompanying adult.

Check the Mammoth Lakes Pack website for more details about Walk & Lead rides for young children.

Horseback Riding for Children 7+ at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit

The pack station also offers a wide variety of family-friendly options for children starting at age 7 that include 1-2 hour rides, half and full day excursions. Trail rides departing from the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit may tour you throughout the Mammoth Lakes Basin with panoramic views of Long Valley, Twin Lakes, and the waterfall between Lake Mamie and Twin Lakes. Other rides may take you to the Mammoth Consolidated Mine, Heart Lake, TJ and Barret Lakes, Lake George, the Mammoth Rim or McCleod Lake.

For older children, the pack outfit also offers a full-day option, which is an eight hour ride that takes you to Barney Lake at the base of Duck Pass. You’ll spend several hours there for lunch, fishing and photography.

Reservations are recommended. Check the Mammoth Lakes Pack Outfit website for details on days and times of each ride.

Family-Friendly Horseback Riding Just Outside of Mammoth Lakes

Tour the Beauty of Convict Lake

Convict Lake Resort and Pack Station is located just a 20 minute drive south of Mammoth Lakes. World famous for its beauty, the 170 acre, crystal clear lake is nestled in Convict Canyon in the Sherwin Range, with towering Mount Morrison to the south, and surrounded by aspen trees along its shores.

Trail rides are available for riders starting at age 7 and up, and the route is well suited for beginner and intermediate riders. Rides depart at 9am and 12pm daily and are available at 3:00pm by reservation (must have 4 or more riders). There are a maximum of six riders per ride.

Ride on the Pacific Crest Trail

If you’re looking to trail ride on the Pacific Crest Trail, look no further than Red’s Meadow Resort & Pack Station. Located in Reds Meadow (where you’ll also find Rainbow Falls and Devils Postpile National Monument) the pack station is a 45 minute drive from Mammoth Lakes. The pack station’s website includes detailed directions on how to get there as well as shuttle options.

Trail rides are available for riders ages 6 and up. All rides require a minimum of one day advance reservation. The ride to Rainbow Falls ride is two hours long and departs daily at 10am and 2pm. The four-hour half-day ride goes to either Minaret Falls or the Red Cones and departs daily at 8am and 1pm.

For more ambitious families, the full-day option takes you on a scenic ride of The Pacific Crest Trail via The Shadow Lake overlook to Clark Lakes. This portion of the trail is considered to be an incredibly scenic and spectacular view of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Visit the John Muir Wilderness

The McGee Creek Pack Station offers trail rides through stunning vistas of the John Muir Wilderness. The Pack Station is a 20 minute drive south off Mammoth Lakes off Hwy. 395. View their website for driving directions.

Trail rides are available for riders ages 7 and up, although six year olds are allowed on the 1-hour trail ride that takes the McGee Canyon Loop and departs at 11am and 4pm daily. Longer options take riders into the John Muir Wilderness, including the Horsetail Falls ride, a 2-hour loop, the Beaver Pond Ride, a half-day (4 hours) trip that goes into McGee Canyon and stops at Beaver Pond for pictures and wildlife viewing. McGee Creek Pack Station also offers full-day excursions, which include three different trail options and a pack mule to carry your supplies for your day in the wilderness.

Charlotte Kaufman

Charlotte Kaufman grew up in Alaska and started traveling internationally at the age of 16. A sailor since 2005, she and her family were part of a dramatic at-sea rescue in the spring of 2014 while en route to the South Pacific. She has just completed a memoir about the experience and is seeking to…

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