Hitting the Trails: Assateague Island, MD

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to ride on the beach, you already know this trip is well worth planning. Assateague Island met every single expectation I had of riding my horse on the beach.

Riding Assateague Island on your own horse should be a destination every rider has on their bucket list. The ocean scents, marine wildlife and water and sand as far as you can see should have you packing your backs like yesterday. Not to mention the wild horses!

Assateague Island allows horseback riding on the shore from October 16th through April 14th. Horses are only permitted ocean side and may not ride into the dunes, dune crossings, trails, boardwalks or paved roads.

If this is an experience that interests you, here are the pros and cons of the trip.

Photo by Rebecca Smith.


Riding the Beach is Breathtaking

Listening to your horse’s hooves as the hit the sand is an experience like no other. Watching the dolphins as they swim through the water and finding the horseshoe crabs that have washed up on shore are like scenes only found in dreams. Seeing the wild horses as you ride alongside them is surreal. Just the smell of the ocean is enough to put a smile on your face for weeks.

@mgruc01 Some beach, somewhere #beach #beachvibes #assateagueisland #horse #horses #horsesoftiktok #sand #ocean #ottb #paradise ♬ Some Beach – Blake Shelton

The Footing is Easy for Riding

You don’t need shoes for this ride as it’s all sand. The footing can’t get any better than that. You can ride where the tide comes in for the easiest footing or you can go up on the shore where the sand is deeper to give your horse more of a work out. You can also go into the ocean as deep as you’d like for more of a work out for your horse.

There are some areas where a plethora of shells wash up but you can easily maneuver your horse around those spots.

@mgruc01 The only running I’ll do on vacation #beach #beachvibes #assateagueisland #horse #horses #horsesoftiktok #sand #ocean #ottb #paradise #run ♬ Time – Hootie & The Blowfish

The Beach Never Ends

The beach just keeps going and going and going. For as far as the eyes can see, you can ride your horse. We rode the beach for approximately four hours. We went for eleven miles and the beach just kept on going. You can pack a lunch and go out all day long.

@mgruc01 Beach ride #beach #horse #horses #horsebackride #beachride #horsesoftiktok #ottb #water #sand #sun ♬ Wide Open Spaces – The Chicks

You Can’t Get Lost

Make sure you remember a landmark for when you come back and you’ll never get lost. Just follow the shore and go as far as you’d like. The beach is a pretty straight forward ride.

@mgruc01 Riding on the beach #beach #beachvibes #assateagueisland #horse #horses #horsesoftiktok #racing #sand #ocean #ottb ♬ Vacation – Dirty Heads


Don’t Bring A Mare

This is something that didn’t occur to me, but thank goodness I have a gelding. The wild stallions will not let a mare go past without chasing her and trying to get her into his herd. It can be a bit frightening. You may end up running down the beach for miles trying to get away from a persistent stud.


There are only two horse camping sites within Assateague Island and each site can only accommodate six horses and six people. Campsites are $50/site/night in addition to the required entrance fee per vehicle. Generators are permitted but may not be used during quiet hours between 10:00PM to 6:00AM.

You may only use a processed complete feed or certified weed-free hay to eliminate introducing weed seeds onto the beach that are not native.

However, the campsites do have hitching posts, fire rings, picnic tables, restrooms and potable water and you may bring portable corrals.

Photo by Rebecca Smith

Fresh Water is Scarce

Once away from camp, there’s no fresh water for your horse to drink. The only water you’ll encounter is the ocean water so your horses won’t drink until they get back to camp.

Photo by Rebecca Smith

Horses May Spook at the Waves

Unless you ride near unsettled water often, many of the horses spook at the waves as they crash and roll into shore. By the end of the ride all the horses in our group became accustomed to the this unfamiliar phenomenon but whew, those first couple crashing waves made for an exciting experience.


There are a lot of fishermen out. This isn’t necessarily a con but just be cautious of running into their lines. When you get close to the fishermen go up and around them to keep your horse safe.

Photo by Rebecca Smith

Overall, if you like the beach and you love your horse, this is a great experience. There’s so many little things such as stuffing sea shells in your saddle bags that make this adventure an unforgettable one. Enjoy the tides and don’t forget your sunscreen!

Hit the trails, Horse Nation and go riding!