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Exploring The Central Sierra On Horseback

Written by Cheryl Frank

For Ann Bates and Sherry Antill of North Fork, sharing their knowledge of the equestrian trail experience has become their passion. They are two pioneering women who encourage local equestrian trail riding and camaraderie.

They do so by sharing their considerable knowledge of the central Sierra Nevada equestrian trails experience through guide books and internet networking.Pohono Trail to Glacier PointAnn and Sherry have spent countless hours riding and documenting decades-worn foot paths, gently tagging lost or new routes and finding staging areas for big trailer rigs. Many other riders, hikers and bikers also help keep these paths open and accessible by word of mouth and frequent use.

Using digital photography and meticulous note-taking, their networking website was born along with their first self-published horseback trail guide book, Central Sierra Nevada Horse Trails, in 2008 and a second in 2010. Combined, the two volumes describe 41 unique trail rides, as well as educate riders about safety, trail sharing etiquette and “leave no trace” principles.

Trail to Elizabeth Lake - Tuolumne“Our primary goal is to get people out riding their horses and to experience this amazing country that is basically our own backyard,” Ann explains enthusiastically, “and to network online with other riders as to current trail conditions. Regular riders contact us, or make comments on our website about trail closures, hazards or spectacular seasonal color spots, so it is useful to check online before you go.”

Sherry Antill and Ann Bates at Biledo Meadow before wildflower bloom - photo by Kathy Bello

Going into new territory on your own can be intimidating to a lot of riders. The rides are not rated by difficulty – that must be defined by each rider, and the ability of their horse. CSN Horse Trails provides the comprehensive information and trail photos to help them choose their ride experience.

Soquel-Greys Mountain area - Ann Bates and Bambi - photo by Kathy Bello“We love our horses but, honestly, they can get excited over any fool thing,” Sherry punctuates with a laugh of experience. “In a wilderness setting you increase the adventure potential dramatically. Ponderosa’s Broadband service has enabled us to take some of the ‘scary’ out of the equation with our online presence.”

Ponderosa, a technology service provider, is pleased to support Sherry and Ann with modern communication tools which enable their unique rural lifestyle; a venture in which the entire community benefits. We applaud their trail blazing spirit. Visit the Central Sierra Nevada Horse Trails website for more information: www.csnhorsetrails.com

Here are some excepts from Sherry and Ann’s website:

Central Sierra Nevada Horse Trails Vol. 1Central Sierra Nevada Horse Trails is just that – a great variety of horseback trails that let you experience the wonder and beauty of the Sierras. Ranging from Yosemite National Park east to the Peckinpah mountains, our trails include rides for beginning mountain horses and riders to experienced horses and seasoned riders.

We have also included several winter rides at lower elevations. You will encounter all types of mountain terrain and obstacles ie. water crossings, bridges and cliff areas which we describe so you can plan your ride safely.

We have been riding this area for many years and having been asked numerous times about where we go, decided to put the trails we ride in a book form for all to enjoy. Locals and visitors to our area have been able to see the beauty of the Sierras on trails which we have located, marked and traveled ourselves. Detailed descriptions and maps accompany each trail so that you, too, can have a wonderful and safe trip.

Central Sierra Nevada Horse Trails Vol 2Volume I was written for several reasons. The main reason was for our own mountain “locals” who have horses but are completely unaware of the hundreds of miles of trail systems virtually at their fingertips.

Our second reason was for the out-of-town visitors camping with their horses; whether it be in Yosemite or the many campgrounds where horses are permitted and even encouraged.

Our third reason, although somewhat devious, was to convince our husbands that we “needed” to go riding 5 days a week in order to locate, investigate and map the trails listed in this book.

As our knowledge of the trails expanded, we wrote Volume II. The two books do not repeat trails, but do show how some trails connect with each other.

Sherry and Rowdy - Biledo MeadowWe, as horse owners, have come to realize that our beloved four-legged companions are more or less “thousand pound chickens” and are predictably unpredictable. Trail obstacles for one horse might be a horrific “stumpasaurus” for another. A simple creek crossing for your horse might be a bottomless rushing pit to hell for your riding companion’s mount.

Our own horses have many, many miles of trail experience; and, while they are not bombproof, are seasoned trail horses. They still spook and they still will at times question our decisions. They are horses.

We are not endurance riders. We are casual, or maybe just a tad more than casual, trail riders. We prefer not to take risks, but riding in general is a risk (remember the thousand pound chicken). Our trails are in the forest and foothills.

Sherry Antill with Rowdy and Susanne Viverito with Lolita at Goat Meadow - photo by Ann BatesBears live in the forest. Deer jump from behind bushes. Snakes slither through the grass. Today we saw wild turkeys! Tomorrow we might not even see a squirrel. I remember the first time running into backpackers on the way to Ostrander Lake. My horse was terrified of the thing on the poor person’s back that was no doubt going to devour that person for lunch. Nothing is predictable on horseback and no two days are the same.

We are just two ranch gals who love to ride. We hope you will enjoy the trails as much as we do.

Sherry and Ann’s books are available locally at Miller’s Mountain Sports in Oakhurst, Yosemite Sierra Visitor’s Bureau, Oakhurst Feed, Mariposa Feed, Bootjack Feed, True Value in YLP, Oakhurst Gift Works, Yosemite Mt. Sugar Pine Railroad and Box Feed in North Fork.

Cheryl Frank is a Marketing Communication Associate at Ponderosa Telephone. Thanks to goponderosa.com for allowing us to republish this story.

2 comments

  1. What a great idea for this article and to encourage folks to get out with their horses and enjoy what we are so lucky to have in our backyard. TY.

  2. Sherry and Ann have done an amazing job with the research and writing – these books are a must-have for trail riding around here.

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