Governor Dodge State Park

For many, many years I've wanted to ride the horse trails at one of my favorite local State Parks - Governor Dodge. We decided there was only one way to find out if Koda & Nemo were ready to go solo on public trails, and that was to try it. With an absolutely gorgeous Fall day, and much anticipation, we loaded up and headed out.

The trail starts here.
We quickly learned the terrain, and the views, at Governor Dodge are varied. You never know what's around the bend, it wasn't too long before we came upon this:

Twin Valley Lake
Our first encounter, was other riders...

What is that coming up over the hill?
...they mentioned they noticed our horses looked surprised when they saw them riding up the hill. In turn they looked surprised, when I told them it was the first time our three year olds had been approached by riders. They were nice folks, altho they were going the wrong way on a one way trail. We didn't say anything about it, doesn't bother me as long as they are going slow. More meandering paths gave us different views of the lake in the distance...

...and led us to more "firsts" as the path crossed a park road. We came upon two bright orange and black striped, no vehicles allowed type, gates marking the continuing trail path entrance. There were nearby unloading vehicles, both were an ear raiser for Koda. Thankfully Nemo came up from behind and rode right through the half closed gate, and Koda followed. Up and around the bend were the backpacking camp sites. We knew the trail went near the sites, however we didn't expect a snot nosed kid pulling a wheeled suitcase banging and rocking wildly across the rocks, while dragging a big blue nylon bag (that I assume was a tent), to suddenly come around the corner. You can imagine the loud ruckus. Koda was pretty unsure. I opted to turn him around, and Nemo and Brad joined us. We stood a few feet off the path, and quietly watched as the kids passed.  The large group of campers were packing up, their tents were a'flapping, and several of them were yelling non-stop for a dog. At least we would know the dogs name if we came across it. With that behind us, came a sudden change of terrain - an uphill rocky climb, and we didn't even have to drive to Colorado!! That was challenging for our young boys, or any horse for that matter. Once we got to the top and things flattened out, we took a break here:

Nemo & Brad checking out the view.
Koda taking a break.
It was sooo beautiful everywhere you looked, including up...

The sky was really this blue.
...we continued along wooded paths, surrounded by beautiful Fall colors...

...the path led us onto open terrain.  The prairie was so pretty, we were surrounded by nature as far as the eye could see. The pictures just don't do it justice.

Along the way we passed a couple walking, with a lunging dog who was thankfully on a leash. The park has many bluffs, and other beautiful rock structures. The large boulders don't seem to bother Nemo. Koda on the other hand keeps a watchful eye on them, just incase they move. There was an enormous rock sunk into the ground, almost as wide as the path. That stopped Koda in his tracks. Nemo wasn't fazed, came up from behind and walked right across it. Must have looked like a big hole to Koda, but once he saw Nemo didn't fall through - we walked over it too. Koda is learning that rocks are okay, even if they are big and scary. We continued along winding paths...

Koda leading the way.
...and discovered Koda has another gear, a fast walk. They really did amazing considering all the new things they experienced. We are very proud of Koda & Nemo, our boys are growing up! Near the end of our ride, we found ourselves with different breathtaking views of Twin Valley lake...
Nemo enjoying the view.
...when we got back to the loading area, a few more trailers had arrived. Everyone was out riding. Too bad, it would have been interesting to meet the owners of this trailer - what a fun message:

On the way home, it sunk in - I rode at Governor Dodge, on my own horse!! Words can't express, all I can say is it was well worth the wait. We really enjoyed our peaceful, beautiful ride. We can't wait to come back!!

Twin Valley Lake was literally sparkling!


juliette said...

Hooray! I feel like I know what you are feeling. We haven't taken our boys off the property yet, but there are so many parks and trails that I have walked or run on foot and I dream of the day I can ride them there. This was your dream come true day! The photos are so beautiful - as you say, probably not half as lovely as it was in person/on horse! Congratulations. Your Nemo and Koda are good boys.

Jeni said...

Wahh Hoooo !!!! What an awesome day Aurora!!!
Just think, the boys will be SOOO much better the next time!

Deb Soderbeck said...


allhorsestuff said...

HHAAAA!!! I gufawed out loud when you said.."They were going the wrong way on a one way trail"!! Were they actually marked?!

Koda, what a star, showing nemo the ropes and also for the extra gear he had wating for you. I love that one too...the "Kicken" walk.

That park looked fabulous! I am so glad that you got to go there this year!It really was gorgeous!

That trailer is too great, with the "armed and dangerious" signage! maybe next time you go there...you'll see them again.

BridgeEtta said...

Wow, what a nice ride. I felt like I was there with you. Great pictures. Thanks.

aurora said...

Thanks everyone for coming along for the ride, it makes it even more special! It's funny, the things one thinks about when out on the trail...so thought provoking...it really was a dream come true.

Juliette, your day is coming. I look forward to sharing it with you.

Kacy, it does sound funny doesn't it! Almost all the trails really are marked one way (no words) they have small brown signs, strategically located throughout, with an orange picture of a horse and some have directional arrows. It would be like driving down a road and only seeing the back side of all the signs. The trail map also indicates they are one way. The trails are windy and hilly, there would be nasty accidents without a one way direction - some of the trails are shared for hiking and biking.

I don't think you can read it in the picture, the trailer folks are part of the Cowboy Mounted Shooting group.

I finally bought a small point-n-shoot camera to wear on my belt. Quality isn't great, but it works well on the trail.

Leah Fry said...

Beautiful place. Sounds like your boys did GREAT for you!