Thirty-five miles from Colorado Springs, Colorado, tucked away at the end of a little dirt road, is a rider's paradise, the M Lazy C Ranch.
This 1906 homestead ranch has been lovingly restored by Randy and Brenda Myers, and they've been giving folks horse adventures and treasured family memories for the last 25 years.
The ranch is surrounded by Pike National Forest, which offers thousands of acres of trails guaranteed to satisfy a wide range of riders. For the most part, the trails are composed of granitic sand. Many of the well-used trails accommodate side-by-side riding and are superb for gaiting.
In addition, there's a wide variety of scenery and trail difficulty. You may challenge yourself and your trusty steed, or do easy, laid-back riding.
You and your equine partner have choices of accommodations. There are primitive or full-hookup recreational-vehicle sites, tent sites, and six cozy, historic log cabins with or without kitchens.
Your horse may be near the arena in a pen, or you may choose an RV site with horse pens.
If you're with a group, or have a large family, reserve the Cowboy U bunkhouse, which can accommodate eight people.
After a pleasurable day of riding, soak in the cowboy hot tub to soothe aching joints or simply to enjoy stargazing.
Randy and Brenda aim to please! If cooking isn't your thing or you want a kitchen break, you may sign up for delicious home-cooked meals, which are served in the spacious dining hall decked out in Western d?cor.
Our overall impression? Things are done in a big way around here, and with a huge amount of enthusiasm!
In the Saddle
We did a number of rides, some by ourselves and some with friendly guests. The ranch hands out a map that lists major trails and landmarks. These trails aren't marked, but there are reference points listed that riders use to keep track of their whereabouts.
Forest Rd. #225 generally runs southeast/northwest and is a reference point in your riding. If you become disoriented, simply find that road, and it'll lead you back toward camp.
Generally, north of the road, you'll find rugged terrain with majestic rock formations; south of the road, the riding tends to be more level.
On our first ride, we rode west out of camp and did a combination of trail riding and cross-country riding. Elevation is 8,200 feet, and the trees are mostly ponderosa pine intermingled with aspen. Splashed against this colorful mixture are scarlet Indian paintbrush and silver sagebrush.
Another ride was to the top of Round Mountain. We headed out of camp the same way, but then veered left toward Round Mountain. It was a steep climb, but the 360 degree panoramic view from the top was worth it! We could readily see the 14,115-foot-elevation Pikes Peak in the distance. (For more on our trip, see The Trail Rider, April '12.)