The 31st Ride the Ridge trail ride is today at Fort Robinson State Park.
The Ride has been put on each year by The Outriders, an informal group of horseback enthusiasts that says this is their final year.
Don Huls, retired extension agent and one of the founders of the Outriders, says while the group is heading off into the sunset, Ride the Ridge will continue.
Huls and another founder, former U-S Forest Service Pine Ridge District Ranger Marv Leiwer , are today’s trail bosses.
Ride the Ridge began in 1991 when Huls, Leiwer, and others came up with the idea of a trail ride to promote awareness of the trails in Northwest Nebraska and the possible creation of a trail from Chadron State Park to Fort Robinson.
Huls says the first Ride was unique for two reasons: it’s the only one held in August and the only one to come to Chadron – ending at the Dawes County Fairgrounds.
The first four Rides were long, 10-to-14 miles, and had separate starting and ending locations. Tom Walters, another original Outrider, says the Ride was then changed to circle routes because of the logistical problems posed by one-way routes.
Once the circle routes began, Ride the Ridge rotated between the Chadron State Park area and Fort Robinson, but renovation of the Mare Barns at Fort Robinson led to the Fort hosting nearly all the rest.
Don Huls says that’s partly because of more lodging and camping options for riders and partly because Fort Robinson’s size offers more route options, but the major reason is the Mare Barns complex itself.
Rides were held on both Saturday and Sunday a few times and eventually the one long ride was split into morning and afternoon rides. Huls says today’s morning ride starts at the far northwest edge of the park.
As always, Ride the Ridge is open to any rider and horse, but a state park entry is needed.