Horseback riding returns to Golden Gate Park after nearly two decades

Chaparral Ranch is holding its first day of horseback riding in Golden Gate Park on Saturday, November 2, 2019. Photo: Chaparral Ranch.

For the first time in nearly two decades, people visiting San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park will have the chance to ride horses regularly, the city’s Department of Recreation and Parks announced this week.

Horseback riding in the park will begin at the Chaparral Ranch, located in the Bercut Equitation Field, and will also include treks, pony rides for children, a horse camp and riding lessons.

As part of the deal with Chaparral Ranch, students at San Francisco Unified School District schools will be offered free tours. The ranch will also be open to local organizations, offering therapeutic riding programs for disabled and disadvantaged youth.

“Horses play an important role in the history of Golden Gate Park and we are thrilled to have them back as our park celebrates 150 years,” department chief executive Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. “The staff and horses at Chaparral Ranch are adored by our Camp Mather families, and we look forward to a new generation of city kids who will fall in love with horseback riding, nature, and our equestrian trails.”

Although Saturday marks the grand opening of Chaparral Ranch in the park, it has been providing hikes for San Francisco families at Camp Mather, a Department of Recreation and Parks-run camp in the High Sierra, for the past two years.

Regular horseback riding has not been available in the park since 2001, despite a brief pilot program in 2017.

The new program will be available for six months. Subsequently, ministry officials will review the program and possibly extend it.

Visitors can book rides and lessons at The ranch is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Clyde P. Johnson