Trail Rides To Panoramic Views

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Kohl's Ranch Stables, LLC is the only place visitors to the Rim Country can rent horses for trail rides up Saddle Mountain or across the highway to Horton Springs.

"Ages 6 to 106 can ride," said Susan Sampsell, marketing executive for Kohl's Ranch Lodge. "Riders do not have to be guests of the lodge."

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Rhonda Quinn, a wrangler with Kohl's Ranch Stables, leads Socks as Lexi Yoder enjoys the ride.

The ride up Saddle Mountain can last from one to three hours and offers panoramic views of the Mogollon Rim.

"These are mountain walking trails," Sampsell said. "A wrangler will guide riders up the trail behind Kohl's Ranch and maybe to a waterfall, depending on the rider's skill level."

Horton Springs is a half-day ride of four to six hours.

"The lush landscapes make it a beautiful ride," Sampsell said.

Lunch from the Zane Grey Steakhouse and Saloon restaurant may be taken on the trail for an additional fee or riders may pack their own.

Red, Caesar and Custer are three of the 24 to 30 horses that make their home in the meadows and stables awaiting a rider.

Red, as his name might suggest is a strawberry roan.

"He's aware of and sees everything on the trail," said Lance Weaver, stable manager.

Caesar is a proud palomino partial to letting men ride him.

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More than a century ago a house was built by a now unknown person near the banks of Tonto Creek. Lewis Kohl was granted the first deed in 1924. Hospitality epitomized the home of Kohl and his wife, Neecie. They offered home-cooked meals to travelers and hosted dances on Saturday nights.

Custer, a paint, Weaver said, is "super gentle and mellow and plods along the trail."

"In the past we have been voted No. 1 in Arizona by Sunset as the best horses, wranglers and over-all stables," Sampsell said.

Horseback riding is offered year-round, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Guests of the lodge may use the stables and kennels offered for the family pets.

Small children can spend time with the horses.

"On Saturday morning (before they may head off to other supervised activities) kids can come and pet and groom the horses if they wish," Weaver said. "We also offer pony rides to children under six. A wrangler will lead the child and horse around the tack room."

Today, the resort offers karaoke on Friday nights, starting at 7 p.m., with live entertainment Saturday beginning at 7 p.m.

The Zane Grey Steakhouse is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Outdoor activities include hiking, mountain biking swimming in the resort's heated pool or relaxing in the sauna. Paddle tennis, badminton, bocci ball, a sports court and a small gym are more recreational options.

Special rates are available to guests on 4x4 junkets to Promontory Point on the Rim, Baby Doll Ranch and other scenic destination provided by Payson Adventures.

Kohl's Ranch is a time share facility, but rooms are available to rent. Summer rates range from $125 for a room, up to $1,200 for the historic Horton House.

Kohl's is located 18 miles east of Payson on Highway 260. The new Highway 260 bypasses Kohl's, so to get there, watch for the small green signs designating the south turn onto the Kohl's Ranch Lodge Road.

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