Vallecito Lake Ride, CO

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Darley Newman
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Today, we headed out with Erika, Gene and Jan's daughter, on the Lake Lookout ride. I was back on Aspen, and looked forward to heading into the forest to explore. The nice thing about riding in this area is that though it is mountainous, the trails lead through the woods and to open meadows, where you can do some faster riding. You get the best of the mountains and the flower-filled meadows.

Erika trains horses and does special clinics at Wilderness Trails Ranch. She grew up on the ranch, and has ridden on these trails since she was a child. Gene and Jan rode with us too, as well as Chip, Doug and a trusty pack horse.

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Erika told us that the area that we were riding through is the largest roadless area in Colorado. The ranch is located in a valley called Los Pinos or the Pine River Valley. The Southern Ute Indians used the valley as summer hunting ground. Los Pinos River runs through the ranch. Guests use it and a nearby pond to fish. They also venture to Vallecito Lake to enjoy water sports.

We were headed to a spot with views of the mountains and Vallecito Lake. We saw a coyote run across the meadow in the distance. Gene said that bears are common in the area as well. Not Grizzlies, but brown and black bears.

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Wilderness Trails focuses on quality riding and instruction, but also offers other activities. With close proximity to Durango, guests could head into the city to ride the historic train, shop or visit nearby Mesa Verde. I probably wouldn't leave the ranch at all though.

I can see why today's ride is called Lake Lookout. The views of the lush green mountains and lake were beautiful. I will leave you with some photos of the ride. Stay tuned for Cattle 101.

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Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Colorado episode and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations, including ranch vacations, at EquitrekkingTravel.com.