My mother, Colleen, and I are always on the lookout for new places to ride; in February 2005, we discovered a gem in Black, Missouri. This discovery was serendipitous: We were visiting Valley Springs Foxtrotters looking to purchase a new horse; on our trial ride, we rode through the Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort's campgrounds and trails. After an hour-long ride, we knew immediately that we'd be visiting Brushy Creek again.
One thing we liked was the mild February weather. We were told that the area offers great trail-riding weather most of the year. We've visited at various times of year and have found this to be true. Even summer riding is pleasant, because most of the trails are wooded. However, spring and fall are probably the best times to ride, because of the beautiful colors.
In September 2006, my parents and I took our second-week long trip to Brushy Creek. It's an easy six-hour drive from our home near Kansas City and is approximately 2 1/2 hours from St. Louis, Missouri. The entrance is clearly marked, and can easily handle large trucks and trailers. Upon arriving, we checked in at the office, providing them all of the required information, including a health certificate and Coggins papers.
We then unloaded our three Missouri Fox Trotters, Molly, Ladybug, and Fanny, and settled them into their covered 10-by-10-foot stalls. The stalls are clean and bedded upon your arrival. The barns have electricity and are conveniently located near water hydrants.
For those with living-quarter trailers, there are hookups located near the barns, as well as spots with hookups and corrals. Brushy Creek also offers four teepees. A nice, clean bathhouse is available for campers.
We prefer to stay in the cabins; there are four. Each cabin has its own bathroom, microwave, refrigerator and coffee pot. The cabins are also equipped with heating and air conditioning.
Trail-riding packages come with or without meals. Standard meals include breakfast and dinner; you're on your own for lunch. Meals are provided at the Trails End Restaurant onsite. We highly recommend you take advantage of the provided meals. This is some of the best cooking you'll find.
Located in the Mark Twain National Forest, the trails at Brushy Creek range from logging roads to steep, wooded trails. They're all well-marked and groomed. You're provided a map of 125 miles of trails at check-in.
Your horse needs to be in relatively good shape, and shoes are highly recommended. After all, this is the Ozarks, and rocks are common. If you love riding in the woods, this is the place for you. You'll also enjoy the streams and wildlife you find along the way.
Each morning during breakfast, the trail boss assisted us in mapping out our trip for the day based on the length and difficultly of ride we were looking for. Our trail rides varied from two to eight hours. Over a six-day trip, we never repeated the same ride, keeping things interesting for both riders and horses.
If you're looking for a great new place to ride, give Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort a try. Not only is the trail riding spectacular, but the people are the real treasure.
For more information on Brushy Creek Lodge and Resort, call (573) 269-4600, or visit www.brushycreeklodge.com.