Trotting on a beautiful horse, up and down deserted wildlife-filled hills on a crisp autumn evening as a colorful pink and orange sun retreats into the horizon. Sounds like somewhere in the middle of Utah or Colorado, doesn’t it? Gallop no further than LA’s own Sunset Ranch Hollywood, established in 1929, where this unique outdoor activity awakens the inner equestrian in all of us.
Atop Beachwood Canyon, nestled in the Hollywood Hills, sits a ranch straight out of a classic John Wayne film, complete with roosters given free reign over the grounds. Our trusty guide, Robbie Davis, greeted me and my riding buddies while we got acquainted with our horses and strapped on our helmets. Having only ridden horses only once in my life before, bareback at the base of the Himalayan Mountains on a pony as a 10-year-old, I fit into the beginner category and was assigned to a gentle mustang, Trigger.
After some basic lessons in horse handling, we were off! Riding past the Hollywood sign, taking in the breathtaking views of Downtown LA as the mist rolled in over the mountains from the Pacific Ocean, you forget you’re in the middle of a major metropolitan city. Catching glimpses of coyotes, rabbits and owls along the way as we descended the mountain into Griffith Park and Burbank added to the wilderness adventure. We passed through the gorgeous dusty expanse of Oak Canyon, spotted the Griffith Observatory, and sauntered by the famous Bronson Canyon caves, aka the original Batcave in the Batman television series. As the sun started to disappear and the air got cooler (bring your parka!), we arrived at the Viva Cantina Mexican Restaurant for dinner. After the 2 ½ hour ride, the posse couldn’t wait to get some South of the Border grub and bevvies into our famished bellies.
Satisfyingly satiated, we jumped back on our horses for the night trek back, traveling under the stars and the crescent moon. Taking on a Sleepy Hollow feel, with no lamps or streetlights guiding the way, we traversed the same path under three tunnels until we ascended back up through the hills. My horse Trigger had a horse ladyfriend waiting for him back at the ranch and trotted happily along first in line, in eager anticipation of their reunion. Robbie began to tell ghost tales of Colonel Griffith and Rancho Los Feliz, sending delightful shivers down my spine as horned owls hooted in the background providing the perfect soundtrack to some spooky stories. Unfortunately, or luckily, no apparitions appeared out of the darkness so we made it back to the ranch safe and sound.
Make reservations for Sunset Ranch Hollywood’s Dinner Rides, similar to my memorable evening, or choose from a variety of others like the Mount Hollywood, Lunch, or shorter 1 and 2-hour rides. Take advantage of Friday night retro prices for the Sunset Dinner Ride or special daily deals on the 1-hour rides all week long. Pull on your cowboy boots and experience an unforgettable journey through the Hollywood Hills. Giddyap amigos!