A Cool Place to Ride in the Summer: The Biltmore Estate, N.C.

A popular tourist attraction, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina contains many things to see, including the Biltmore House, the Gardens, the Winery, and the Inn on Biltmore Estate. However, for more than 100 years, it has also been a favorite destination for horseback riders, especially when the oppressive heat of summer has arrived.

Story originally posted by: Kym Rouse Campbell

About 80 to 100 miles of trails wind through the historic Biltmore Estate grounds and forests. Many of the trails follow the original paths used by George Vanderbilt and his guests, dating back to the late 1800s.

In 1889, George Vanderbilt began construction on the larger-than-life country retreat in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The Biltmore Estate was completed in 1895. Its centerpiece is the Biltmore House, a 250-room French Renaissance chateau that contains many luxuries that were unheard of in the 1890s and America’s largest home. The Biltmore Estate Winery is located in renovated buildings that were originally part of the Estate’s dairy operations. The Inn on Biltmore Estate offers first-class accommodations and Vanderbilt-style hospitality. Just as it was in Vanderbilt’s day, the Biltmore Estate continues to offer a wonderful escape from everyday life.

The Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center offers guided trail rides, riding lessons, boarding facilities, the Ride Biltmore Estate Program, and Twelve-Month Equestrian Passes. The Ride Biltmore Estate program allows riders to bring their own horses and explore the many miles of scenic trails throughout the Biltmore Estate for a daily fee. Instead of paying daily trail fees, you can ride as much as you want with a Twelve-Month Equestrian Pass. All riders must stop and sign in at the Equestrian Center office each time they come. A current negative Coggins must be presented for each horse upon arrival or must be on file at the office for each horse ridden by annual pass holders. Parking for day use is available at the Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center for no additional charge. After signing in and paying applicable fees, proceed to the parking area in the field along the river upstream from the barn area (turn right), which has water and a portable toilet.

The 80 to 100 miles of trails include cool woodland paths, scenic climbs over gentle mountain ridges, and rides along the beautiful French Broad River. Most trails are not real steep or rocky, and many are suitable for carriage use. A few trails are single track. There are plenty of stream crossings on the trails to water your horse. The trail system includes five different loops of 10 to 40 miles in length, some with optional jumps. Cross-country jumps are located in the upper pastures overlooking the Biltmore House, where you will feel like you are riding in a magical place. Trail maps can be purchased from the Equestrian Center office, and bringing the trail map with you while you are out riding is highly recommended. Trails are marked with directional yellow, green, blue, red, and white arrows attached to trees or stakes.

Overnight camping, with water and portable toilets but no electrical hookups, is available along the French Broad River for a small fee. There is no additional charge to keep your horse at your campsite either tied to the trailer, on a picket line, or in a portable corral. Camping reservations are not required but are highly recommended. Because the Biltmore Estate is a major tourist attraction, there are many nearby places for you to stay, ranging from chain hotels to luxurious bed and breakfast inns. A special treat would be a stay at the Inn on Biltmore Estate! Stalls are available for your horse in the guest barn at the Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center. Paddocks that hold up to four horses each are also available. Reservations are required for stalls and paddocks. For a small fee, you can use the field jumps or the indoor or outdoor arenas.

A number of clinics, horse shows, trail rides, and endurance and competitive trail rides are hosted by the Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center each year. The Biltmore Challenge 50- and 100-Mile Endurance Ride is held every year the first Saturday in May. The Biltmore/Mountin’ Hopes Fall Fling Endurance Ride, which has both 25- and 50- mile rides, is held annually the last Saturday in September. Trails are closed each year for both endurance rides. The Biltmore Estate Equestrian Center is located off of Racquet Club Road, accessible from U.S. 25/Hendersonville Road (which you can reach from either I-40 or I-26). For more information, as well as directions to the Biltmore Estate, go to www.biltmore.com.