Updated: Nov 8, 2020
This week-long trip to the ole home place seems to be becoming a yearly ritual for me! Even though I’m a mid-sized city gal now it’s such a blessing to return to Grandma and Grandpa’s house each summer even if it’s only for a week.
It’s amazing how much I remember each time. This year helping Grandpa saddle and unsaddle horses for each ride went far more smoothly than it has in previous years! I still make mistakes, but that is why his watchful eyes are there to teach me where I’ve made the mistake so I will remember and do better in the future. It also keeps all our stock and riders safe which is very important!
Last year I only went for a Day up Elbow Creek, but this year I was blessed to help lead a 1 hour, 2 hours, and day ride while in the valley. What’s great about this is I can share with you my comparison of the three. This may help you choose which ride is right for you when you visit too!
The Bonnie and Clyde Ride
The one-hour ride is nick-named the Bonnie and Clyde Ride by my Grandpa because of a beat-up old car with the windows shot out that sits in a field we ride past. He loves pointing it out to kids and adults both asking if they know who Bonnie and Clyde are and reminding them what a bad idea it is to mess with the law in Montana!
This ride is short and sweet but you still get the amazing view! If you’ve never been on a horse before or have never been on a trail ride, this is a great introduction. You’ll still be a little sore afterward but not nearly as bad as if you had gone for longer. We’ll even take your picture at the top with the whole of Paradise Valley stretched out in the background!
A River Runs Through It
If you’ve never watched the movie “A River Runs Through It” you definitely should! Featuring Robert Redford and a young Brad Pitt this movie about the passion of fly fishing was partly filmed right in this region of Montana. The 2-hour ride is actually what my Grandpa and Aunt took members of the crew on when they had a day off!
On this ride, you take the same trail as the Bonnie and Clyde ride so you won’t miss the car or the story, but after we take your picture we continue to ride higher up the mountainside. We cross the north fork of Deep Creek where your horses are more than welcome to take a long drink before moving on.
Then you ride up through one of the largest living organisms on the planet… can you guess what it is? I guess you’ll have to take the ride to find out!
This ride is also relatively short but you see more of a variety of views on the trail and get higher up in elevation. You also get to listen to more of Grandpa’s stories! That’s the part I enjoy most, listening to Grandpa’s gruff voice behind me on the trail telling tales and facts in the same manner that the mountain men of old did around the campfire at night. “I don’t know everything, but I know quite a lot and if you’re willing to learn maybe I’ll be able to teach ya something before we get back today.” He tells each group of riders as he gives them instructions for riding our stock.
The Wilderness Ride
This is the day ride. This is the Day Up Elbow Creek Ride I wrote about last year! It’s actually up the East Fork of Mill Creek but the longer you live the more you know 😂
This ride has is roughly 12 miles round trip. It has some of the most stunning views in Paradise Valley and will definitely leave you saddle sore if you’ve never ridden before! But I think you’ll agree with me that just having experienced the grand wilderness of Montana from the back of a horse for one day is more than worth the sore muscles… plus it totally counts as exercise and your horse does most of the work!
Now if you’re going to commit a day to ride the trail with us be prepared to become really good friends with your guides! The topics of religion and politics are certainly not off the table but we’ll talk John Wayne and old cowboy stories with you too. Grandpa also gives a lot more instruction during the ride so feel like a true cowboy/cowgirl when it’s all said and done!
You also get to make your friends absurdly jealous of your lunchtime view!
Now, this life of trail riding daily with the fantastic office view of the great Montana outdoors may seem glamorous to the many visitors who join us each year and it certainly is!
It also takes a whole lot of grit! There is always horse manure to clean up from the trail and out of trailers. There is the sweat and the hair that covers you along with the smell of leather by the time you finish saddling and unsaddling each day. There are horse flies and mosquitoes. There are good days and bad just like any business. Winters can be hard and worrisome when you’re trying to care for your horses. Summers can be so busy you find they’ve passed without being able to slip in that one afternoon ride in a new spot for yourself or float on the river. Your guests come first, then your horses,…. then you which means sometimes you skip breakfast…. Grandpa nearly always forgets to eat lunch too.
Yet, we would never want it any other way! So we get up in the morning, pour a strong cup of coffee, and turn our country music up loud. We’re proud to show off our old west lifestyle that may just disappear from the west altogether if we don’t pass it on to our children. We’re honored to present the very best hidden gems of our state because without a great horse and guide you would never even know they were there!
How do you start your morning? Have you been on a trail ride with Bear Paw Outfitters? What is your favorite part of trail riding? Do you prefer longer rides or the short and sweet ones?
Thank you, fellow adventurers! You can follow the lilmissbearpaw blog page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @lilmissbearpaw for sneak peeks into upcoming posts and my adventures. This will also be a great place to share your own adventures!