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CorazonLock's Reviews

River Valley Horsecamp, near Farmington, Ia

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Another wonderful year at River Valley Lodge! Heated bathroom that is more pristine than a five star hotel bathroom, beautiful lodge, two arenas, a wash rack, and the coolest obstacle course around! Also, minutes from Farmington, so you can ride your horse into town and hitch him or her at the hitching rail outside the restaurant! However, the best part of this trip besides the trails was when it got so chilly at night that we decided to leave early (primitive campers). The owners really outdid themselves and let us sleep in the lodge at no cost. To me, that went beyond outstanding customer service. They remembered us from two years ago, and I will go back again! As a side note, their trails are well marked. Some trails are very steep. Some ledges. You can easily ride into Shimek, where the trails are also steep in some places. Requires a confident horse and/or rider. Horses should have front shoes because in some places it is very rocky. While River Valley doesn't close its trails due to rain, Shimek does except for the wet weather trail. Also, beware of quick sand where Lick Creek is - we had a run-in with it. As long as you stay on the path straight in between the two trailheads in Lick Creek, you should be fine, but deviation from that is not recommended. I wish I could live there. It really is a slice of heaven.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 10/30/2015 8:48:06 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 10/15/2015 Hometown: Garner , IA
The Natural Gait, near Marquette, IA

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The Natural Gait is a pretty nice place to stay and either camp or sleep in a cabin. The cabins are beautiful and rustic, and The Natural Gait is so spaced out that it seems like there's no one there but you. There's an indoor arena, an outdoor arena, a mercantile, a kitchen/reception room, and a viewing arena for the arena. The Lower Gait has barns with stalls with small runs, one in a barn, and one behind the arena. The Upper Gait has covered corrals. What I did not like about The Natural Gait, though, is that it seemed expensive compared to other places. The trails are wonderful, with river crossings and some hills. However, The Natural Gait lost the use of many of their trails that they rented from the DNR. You could ride their trails for MAYBE the day, but that's stretching it. I'm not sure how many miles of trails they actually have left. This made me rate the trails a 2 though. The trails are a little rocky, and I had my horse front shod just to be safe, but a hard-hoofed horse should be fine. You could trailer out to the Yellow River Forest for the day, which is about 20 miles away I believe. Otherwise, you could be content to play in the arenas and on the trails. For pictures and videos of The Natural Gait from my visit, please visit YouTube and type: The Natural Gait - Monona, IA.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 5/22/2015 6:14:28 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 5/9/2015 Hometown: Garner , IA
Volga Lake Recreational Area, near Fayette, IA

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They should have installed water at the campgrounds by this time - when I was there, they had the pumps but didn't have everything hooked up. Nice campgrounds, and bugs weren't too bad when we were there. The trails are very nice and are great for any level of rider. There's a lot of water crossings and a few hills, but overall, it's a very relaxing ride. Trails are well marked and are easy to get around. There's also access to toilets around the trails if you get into other campgrounds.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 7/29/2015 3:02:38 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 6/7/2015 Hometown: Garner , IA
Forestville Mystery Cave State Park, near Preston, MN

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Forestville is a fun location to ride if you're looking for more family oriented trails. I thought the fees were a little steep for camping, but that's the way it is in MN. We had the entire campground to ourselves basically because we were there Sunday - Tuesday. I've heard it gets packed on nice weekends though. As far as the camping, it was pretty good, though we had a problem with bees in the tree above our site - they got annoyed with the fires and kept getting into our tent. Also, dumb of us, but we left a small pile of Cheetos on the ground overnight and the raccoons were fighting over them. As for the trails, they're good. This is not my favorite place to ride, but it is good. I highly recommend shoes because the trails are paved with crushed limestone. If you go out one way on the trails, you'll do a bunch of simple trails in nature. If you go out another way, you'll do more challenging trails with many, many water crossings. Those are fun! Bugs weren't bad this time of year, either.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 11/10/2014 2:35:04 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 6/20/2014 Hometown: Garner , IA
Zumbrota Bottoms, near Theilman, MN

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First of all, the actual name of the trail and camp is Zumbro Bottoms, not Zumbrota Bottoms. The campgrounds are very pleasant. We stayed at the west campground, which is the biggest one. There are plenty of places to park, get water for your horses, and put manure. There is no electricity, so if you have a living quarters, you'll need a generator. There are fire rings at each site and a few outhouses. We visited the central and north campgrounds as well. The north campground is very small, for maybe no more than six trailers, if that. It is more secluded and is the perfect place if you have a small group. The central campground has a moderate amount of sites, maybe 15-20. Unfortunately, the road leading to it is very bouncy, and if you were to meet anyone on the road, it would not be good. The trails were excellent. The one thing that they do need to do is update their maps and signs. We got lost and turned around several times. The gnats were bad at this time. There are plenty of hills to climb for more experienced horses and riders, and likewise, there are easy trails for those who want an easy ride. A soft-footed horse might need shoes. There are some rocky areas and then some sandy trails. There doesn't seem to be any water crossings. Don't cross the Zumbro River because the bottom is unstable. There is a bridge instead that you can use. Overall, it's a great place to ride. You can go onto Youtube and type in Zumbro Bottoms to see a collection of pictures and videos I put together from the ride.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 8/24/2015 7:36:55 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 8/12/2015 Hometown: Garner , IA
Elk Haven Horse Camp & Black Hills National Forest, near Keystone, SD

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The campgrounds have electric hookup, tent camping, and cabins. The cabins are small, about the size of dorms, and even though they advertise that you can fit up to five people in a cabin, ideally, two would be enough. There's no air conditioning or heat in the cabins. The bathrooms are okay, but they are not as clean as they should be, especially the showers. I used flip flops in the shower because the floor was gross. The owners seemed nice, but there was something about them a little off. They didn't give us receipts for our stay, and they charged us for an extra person when we shared meals. The prices on their meals and other services were pretty expensive. They also didn't know of any farriers in the area when one of our horses lost a shoe. I would maybe go back, but I wish the grounds were nicer and that the owners were more accommodating. They just seemed very disorganized, frustrated, and distant. The trails, of course, are unlike anything you've ever seen. One great thing about Elk Haven is that you can ride to Custer State Park or the Black Hills from there. It is an eight hour round trip to Mount Rushmore and a twelve hour round trip to Harney Peak. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to either because it had rained so badly there that we heard the mud was so bad it took some horses down. Definitely shoe your horse all the way around, and definitely have your horse in shape for this ride. There are easier trails if you prefer, but overall, the trails are challenging. Also, beware of the stair steps into the creek crossing in the Black Hills National Forest. When it floods, you cannot see these steps, and it made my horse very, very nervous when he plunged into the water. Trails are not very well marked, so it is important you get a map and remember where you've been. Beware of bison - we saw some in Custer. Also, make sure you take along all-weather gear as the weather can change in a heartbeat.
Reviewed by CorazonLock on 7/29/2015 3:17:54 PM Experience: Intermediate Ride Date: 6/22/2015 Hometown: Garner , IA