Horseback Riding Princess Place Preserve in Florida
Equestrian Kimberly Harvey reveals her favorite place to trail ride in Flagler County, Florida for Equitrekking's 50 State Trail Riding Project.
by Kimberly Harvey
Being one of the fortunate Yankee transplants who reside in the sunny state of Florida, I have a keen appreciation for the nearly 365 days each year that I can revel in outdoor activities. As an equestrian to boot, I feel truly blessed!
The author, Kimberly Harvey, on Myah, her friend Trudy's beautiful girl, ducking under some magnificent oaks.
So that you don't think I'm just blowing smoke with that "equestrian" label, I lived my first 23 years in the northeastern part of the United States and was gifted my first "horse" at 6 years of age (Hot Shot, the Shetland pony and best teacher ever). I learned how to do everything without a saddle that I could do with one, rode in all conditions, with only one exception–– lightening storms. I'm adventurous not stupid. I enjoyed hanging out with Arabians (after outgrowing Hot Shot) until I moved off to college. I occasionally rode other folks' horses (from Thoroughbreds to a Rocky Mountain Horse) until I began reacquiring my own in my 30s.
I now have a dynamite Arab gelding named Cahlil who dances dressage, jumps over 3' (he's only 14.1), neck reins, jogs and lopes with the best of 'em and loves trail adventures. Yes, I do all of the above without a saddle, too, even at 48, still without having broken any bones. I also continue to ride my friends' horses whenever the opportunity arises. It's a great treat especially since it's like having multiple horses without having to pay for their upkeep!
The bridge leading into Princess Place Preserve complete with tell tale poop piles.
With some credibility established, I will now–– reluctantly 'cause I almost want to keep this to myself–– share with you one of the most lovely horse-related excursions I've had the pleasure to experience with my equine and horse-loving human friends.
The name is, "Princess Place Preserve." The location is Palm Coast, Florida. Oh, and by the way, you need to like camping… that is if you want the complete experience. Let me explain.
You just can't beat Mother Nature's landscaping!
Princess Place is a 1500-acre preserve situated in the northern part of Flagler County next to the Matanzas River and Pellicer Creek. It is named after some American lady (a widow who inherited the land from her husband, actually) who married some exiled prince from some foreign country (Russia, actually) and is a haven for those who love to picnic, fish, camp, kayak, hike and most importantly ride horses.
Being a country girl at heart, I love to partake in all of the aforementioned activities. However, when given the choice, the equestrian in me always wins, so it's quite a bonus to be able to combine these activities.
Morning wake up call from "camp."
Alright, seriously. You really don't have to camp. You can just trailer your four-legged buddies and ride to your heart's content for the day on miles and miles of beautiful trails then truck back home before closing time, which is 6pm. They do lock the gate. If you're feeling especially ambitious, then you can get directions and/or a map from one of the resident handymen/ tour guides/ wood-chopping-extraordinaire gentlemen, namely either Rabbit (who lives on the property), Steve or Earl, that will transport you through Princess Place and over to the neighboring preserve, therefore opening up even more tropical trail vistas.
Lush and lovely at Princess Place Preserve in Florida.
For a subsequently unique point of view, access to the land bridge that traverses I-95 is available via this route–– yeah… I said I-95! You can actually, if your horse is a cool enough customer, ride atop traffic. It's pretty nifty.
Cahlil (on the land bridge) trying to figure out where on earth all of those cars and trucks are going.
Now, let's address the camping part of the offerings. Yes, I grew up in the country. However, I like to be just as clean as the next person, so camping to me requires a bathroom and hot shower in the near vicinity of the campsite. Apparently, the folks at Princess Place agree with me, so these particular amenities are a very short stroll away from the equestrian campsites. There are also picnic tables, fire pits and non-potable water spigots for each site. In addition to a wash rack and small wood-fenced corrals, there is ample space for mapping out any temporary enclosures you might require to give your horses some grazing space. Yes, there is grass!
The boys awaiting their breakfast.
I highly recommend a cool weather visit so that you don't melt while cooking your meals at your campfire. I still have yet to find some edible delight in this world that compares to roasted marshmallows, and they're always best enjoyed when it's chilly outdoors.
There's one more important notation I should mention while discussing camping, and it is that no generators are permitted on the property. This makes for a delightfully quiet environment especially when it's time for some sleep!
You know your car is small if it fits in the wash rack!
Speaking of sleep, or should I say what to do right before sleep while you're relaxing in such pristine surroundings; look up at the sky! There are no city lights in the vicinity to obscure your view, so the night sky (without clouds of course) is quite stunning. If you've got a star gazing app on your smart phone, then you're in for an even bigger treat. Just don't forget to look down every once-in-a-while so that you don't trip or run into something in the dark.
If all of this sounds the least bit enticing, then you should visit www.flaglercounty.org to gather more detailed specifics about this lovely treasure-of-a-place.
I would say that I hope to see you there sometime soon, and I do, but maybe just not too often… I'm selfish like that! Once you see Princess Place for yourself, you will completely understand.