Horseback riding returns to Golden Gate Park after nearly two decades

Chaparral Ranch holds its first day of horseback rides 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 regularly ride horses, the city's Recreation and Park Department announced this week.

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

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

"Horses play a big part in Golden Gate Park's history and we're thrilled to have them back as our park turns 150," department general manager Phil Ginsburg said in a statement. "Chaparral Ranch's staff and horses are beloved by our Camp Mather families, and we are looking forward to a new generation of city kids falling in love with riding, nature and our equestrian trails."

Although Saturday marks Chaparral Ranch's grand opening at the park, it has provided trail rides for San Francisco families at Camp Mather, a Recreation and Park Department-run camp located in the High Sierra, for the past two years.

Regular horseback riding hasn't been available at the park since 2001, despite a brief pilot program back in 2017.

The new program will be available for six months. Afterward, department 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.