The scenic rolling hills and picturesque valleys of Chenango County make it one of the finest destinations for equestrians from all over the country to visit and adventure.
Just outside the Catskills, skilled, beginner and casual horseback riders can find their bliss somewhere along the vast 130 miles of New York State trails that span the county.
Visitors of all ages and skill levels can take their pick of about a dozen equine facilities, a unique part of the agritourism experience in Chenango County. One of the most popular options for horseback riders is the Brookfield Trail System, which crosses nearly 10,000 acres of land, a natural asset typically reserved for the American West.
“Our trails range in experience levels, but people from all over tell me we’ve got some of the best they’ve ever ridden,” says Jim Weidman, owner of Pure Country Campgrounds in New Berlin, New York. “It’s really about the Leatherstocking Region’s landscape and the luxury of easy riding or the option for more advanced and challenging trails that sets the area apart from any East Coast range.”
Marked and mapped trails of all intensities await adventurers from across the country who come to camp with their horses at Pure Country Campgrounds. By day, riders explore the expansive Brookfield Trail Systems and at night, they lay their equine companions to rest at the stables while they enjoy the beauty of nature under the Chenango stars.
Much of the land that once belonged dairy farmers is now rejuvenated and flourishing thanks to equestrians and horses alike.
Chenango trails hold a rich and storied past that dates back decades, even centuries. Along one of Pure Country’s five-hour guided rides, equestrians cross past old cemeteries, ruins and even a few rock walls that date back to the 1700s, Weidman says.
First-time riders and those who don’t yet own a horse are set up with gear on site at the campgrounds or at many other stables in the area. Pure Country even has professional equestrians are staffed to teach beginners the ropes and prepare them to cross the Charles E. Baker State Forest, another one of 32 state lands in the county.
A lifetime rider himself, Weidman advises first-timers, “All you’ve got to do is stay in the saddle. Before you know it, you’ll want to keep adventuring, you’ll be hooked.”