Family Escape Upstate at Pine Ridge Dude Ranch
Some of you may remember Pinegrove Ranch from your childhood- an all inclusive family resort that opened 40 years ago in Kerhonkson New York, at the foothills of the Catskill mountains. In 2018, the ranch was taken over by a former barn manager and two prior guests (how cool is that!)- and is now called Pine Ridge Dude Ranch- making it possible for those nostalgic family vacations to continue on. We recently had the chance to visit Pine Ridge on a late September weekend, and are excited to share our experience.
Did you know? Pinegrove was open for 40 years until the prior owner passed away unexpectedly at 50 years old. 34 horses were taken to an auction and 90 jobs were lost. The barn manager at the time organized a comprehensive effort to save the horses from the auction and purchased the property in January of 2018. Since purchasing the ranch, the new owners have invested $2 million in renovations and re-opened on April 1, 2018
About Pine Ridge Dude Ranch
Pine Ridge’s overnight rate includes meals, accommodations, facilities, activities and entertainment. The regular rate includes one trail ride per person per stay (minimum age is 9 years old) or one free pony ride per day (8 & under). Serious horse lovers can choose packages that include additional trail rides, and day passes are also available for those who do not wish to stay overnight.
Family one-price and other specials do not include horseback riding.
Check-in at Pine Ridge is at 3pm, but guests are welcomed to arrive early and enjoy the facilities until their rooms are ready. The fall package includes a voucher for a local farm, so a good idea is to enjoy apple or pumpkin picking before check-in. We arrived on a Sunday and opted to give ourselves time to check out the outdoor activities and grab something for lunch.
First stop- bounce pillow!
We grabbed a map from the front desk and our tickets for trail and pony rides, and headed outside to let some energy out after the car ride. The kids immediately spotted the giant inflatable bounce pillow on the map, so that was our first stop.
Note: Guests must sign up for trail and pony rides for the next day at 5pm each evening in the lobby- be sure to head back in time to register!
Next up was rock climbing before making our way back inside to grab a bite to eat at the Chuckwagon Grill & Snackbar.
FYI: Dinner is included on the day of check in. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided during your full day stays. Only breakfast and lunch are included on the day of check out.
After lunch, we headed across the street to check out the petting zoo. This fenced in area consists of goats and chickens- and guests are able to go right in and walk around. Tip: Sit on the rocks and watch the goats come right over to you!
We then hopped on the tractor ride for a tour of the rest of the property. The driver stopped along the way to share some interesting information about both the ranch and surrounding area. Guests can hop off at the lake or simply stay on and enjoy the ride back up. We decided to visit the lake the next day, and headed back to the room to freshen up for dinner.
We were given a table number that would be ours for our stay at the ranch. Many of the tables inside the dining room have a beautiful view of the Catskill mountains and the horses across the street. As for the food, it was comparable to some of the other all-inclusive style resorts we’ve stayed at. There was a great salad bar selection, two or three entree options, and several dessert options. There is also a small bar with wine and beer-and a BYOB option for a $10 corking fee.
After dinner, we headed outside to enjoy the lawn games as the campfire started. Each night, complimentary marshmallows and sticks are given out for the fire- and chocolate and graham crackers are available for purchase.
Families can spend all night outside and enjoy games such as bocce ball, horseshoes, cornhole, hook and ring, and more. Basketballs and other equipment are also available to borrow from the front desk.
Many parents enjoyed their own wine or beer while hanging by the fire- but there is also the Silver Dollar Bar where guests can purchase drinks.
Pony Rides & Trail Rides
After our buffet breakfast, we headed down to the horses. We had chosen a morning pony ride for my 7 year old and a trail ride in the afternoon for myself and my 13 year old. This way, my husband could hang out with our youngest while we went out on the trail. My 7 year old loved the pony ride, and is counting down the days to when she is old enough to do the trail rides.
Note: Guests can also inquire with the front desk about childcare for an additional charge if needed
When it was time for our trail ride, we lined up based on experience level- and were then matched with a horse. The wranglers were great with helping us onto the horse and giving basic instructions before heading out to the trails with us.
A personal note: While my daughter has been riding horses and ponies since she was little, this was my first time on a horse since I was a kid! I actually used to take riding lessons every day after school when I was younger, but was thrown off a horse and had been too scared to ride again. But I made the decision to face my fears this time- and I’m so glad I did. We enjoyed a beautiful view of the mountains and then a cool 45 minute ride into the woods. I still have so much respect for these amazing animals, and I know that I’ll ride again soon thanks to my experience at Pine Ridge!
After our trail ride, we stopped in the barn for some archery before heading back on the tractor to do some paddle boating on the lake. There were canoes and paddle boats available. Hours of all activities are listed on the daily schedule, with some taking place each day at specific times.
After the lake, I took my youngest to squeeze in some pool time before dinner. The indoor pool is a standard pool with a pair of slides. In the warmer months, there is an outdoor pool with slides and a pool bar.
After dinner, we borrowed some board games from the front desk and sat down to play while a band played live music in the lobby. Many families sat around and enjoyed the music- at one point there was even a conga line going around the fireplace. After, the kids had another helping of ice cream from an impromptu ice cream party, and before we knew it the kids were exhausted and ready to lounge in bed. The hubby and I let our oldest stay with her sister while we enjoyed a little alone time at the fire- the perfect nightcap to our stay.
The Next Day
The next morning, we headed to breakfast before packing our bags and checking out. Being that we were right by the Mohonk Preserve, we decided to stop in and check out the Childrens Forest and visitors center for the afternoon. The kids spent the day building forts and before we knew it they were fast asleep on the car ride home. For more information about Mohonk Preserve, visit www.mohonkpreserve.org.
Final Thoughts and Tips
Overall, we really enjoyed our Fall visit to Pine Ridge Dude Ranch and look forward to revisiting in other seasons. As a family, we typically love any place that we can get out of the city and enjoy various activities outdoors. In a society where everything is so structured, we like to bring the kids where they can simply unplug and enjoy new experiences. The group activities are fun, but you’ll often find us doing our own thing.
As for any downsides- we thought that the ranch could use adding a few more activities geared towards adults. Perhaps axe throwing or a more advanced archery for 18 years and up. We also would have loved to see some more hang out areas where families can gather- like hammocks.
While Pine Ridge has undergone renovations and continues to make updates, it remains a nostalgic no-frills family destination. Don’t expect fancy accommodations, but it’s sure to be one of those family vacations your children remember forever.
-BYOB! Sure, grab a drink at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine at dinner- but bring a cooler to bring to the fire at night and cheers to a fun time with family. Also, our room type did not have a fridge- so having a cooler was a must.
-Pack snacks. There are some vending machines located in the halls for those late night cravings, but have your own snacks for in between meals.
-Don’t forget the ponchos and hoodies for sitting around the fire.
-As for footwear, sneakers are great. Feel free to bring boots for your trail rides, and flip flips to wear to the pool.
For more information, visit www.pineridgeduderanch.com.