Hitting the Trails: The Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA

Whether you and your horse are headed to the Virginia Horse Center for showing, driving or camping, don’t pass up the gorgeous trails the facility has to offer!

Editor’s Note: The Virginia Horse Center does not offer public access to its trail system. Please do not contact the VHC looking to access its trail system as trails are available to those competing at the VHC only.

For most of us, the Virginia Horse Center is a show destination. When we plan our trip it’s for the sole reason to run around like chickens with our heads cut off to make sure we show up to the right ring at the right time.

But, this horse center has WAY more to offer. Aside from the 19 show rings, Coliseum and cross country course, the Virginia Horse Center sits on 600 acres of property which harbors A LOT of trails! If you can squeeze in some time between performances or if you have some free time in the evening, the Virginia Horse Center has a plethora of trails that can be accessed without even leaving the property!

Photo by Jeanie Trimble.

If you’re contemplating trail riding while at the Virginia Horse Center, here are the pros and cons.


Trails in the Appalachian Mountains are Cooler

While there, the temperature during the day was approximately 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the hot weather, the trails in the woods stayed surprisingly cool. It was comfortable to go out on a mid-day ride. For the duration of the ride, each rider and horse that was in our group had minimal sweating if any — minus the high energy horse that was angry he had to walk (there’s always at least one in the group, right?).

The Scenery is Breathtaking

No matter which way you turn, you have something beautiful to feast your eyes upon. Views of the mountains are plentiful but you also see lovely wooded areas, white picket fences, large hay fields and the Maury River. Which brings me to my next point:

Photo by Misty McCandless.

The Trails Lead to the Maury River

The Maury River is a 42.8 mile long river that happens to run right through the trails that are accessed from the Virginia Horse Center. This river is one of the smaller rivers in its geographic location but it is wonderfully scenic. The water is beautiful to look at and serves as a refreshing place for the horses to get a drink and play around.

Photo by Jeanie Trimble.

The Trails are Plentiful

No lie, you could get lost out there. There were multiple times I reached for my phone and pulled up Maps to see which way to head. It doesn’t matter which direction you look, there’s another trail head, another direction to go and many different options that will take you to different places. We rode 4.2 miles and during that time there were many occasions we had no idea which direction we came from.


The Trails Lead to the Maury River

You may be thinking, “you already said that,” but I’d like to expand on this topic from a con position. The trails lead to the Maury River but some do not take you into the river. Rather, they take you to a cliff that just looks down at it. You’re so close yet so far away and the only thing you can do is turn around, go the entire way back and try another trail to get to a different point on the river.

Picture by Jeanie Trimble.

Not All Trails Are Well Maintained

God bless, some of the trails can get super sketchy. In the blink of an eye, some of the trails narrow and you find yourself trail blazing or turning around. Some are just extremely over grown with branches while others seem to come to a dead end. Not to mention, the terrain can be a bit treacherous. Take into consideration that you are in the Appalachian Mountains because some of the hills are steep and need to be navigated with caution.

The Trails are Plentiful

I’m not kidding when I mention that they’re plentiful. It’s an awesome feature, but you can easily get lost. When I mentioned earlier that I had to use Maps multiple times during the 4.2 mile ride, I wasn’t pullin’ your chain. The trails aren’t marked and the deeper you go and the more turns you make, you can easily find yourself trying to figure out which way is home.

Photo by Misty McCandless.

Minimal Access to Water

All these trails and no creeks, streams or watering holes anywhere in sight. Unless you make it to the Maury River, and that’s hoping you took the correct path that leads you to the area where you can go into the Maury River and not just look at it from above, there are no spots to stop and get your horse a drink if he’s thirsty.

Photo by Liz Brockert.

Overall, if you’re looking for something fun to do with your horse and friends while you have time at the grounds, this is a fantastic time. There are so many trails, the views in Virginia are unlike any other state and the Maury River is something every equestrian should experience on her horse, if you can find which trail leads you to the beach area.

Happy trails and go riding!