In 1948, a group of horse people got together and went on a trail ride in the Grafton, New York area. During the ride, the people talked about how much fun it would be to form a riding club. Each asked other friends and a large group was formed. It was but a couple of years later that the group wanted an overnight two-day trail ride. Using old dirt roads, a carriage trail, a few logging roads and an old railroad bed, the group rode from Grafton to Williamstown, Massachusetts. Trail riders spent the night camping in farmer’s fields and an old ski resort. They used to tie their horses in the woods, jump in a horse trailer and go to a fancy restaurant to eat a nice dinner. In more recent years, the dinner has been catered in the fields.
In 1987, 40 riders set out on the trail and had a great ride planned until it began to rain during supper. While sitting in a horse trailer trying to stay dry, one rider was heard to say he would pay a hundred dollars the next year to do it again. The next morning they awoke to four inches of snow. The snow didn’t stop until 20 inches had fallen, trapping riders & horses into the next day. The following year the ride has twice as many participants.
After the new clubhouse and barn were completed, the club decided to reverse the ride. We now ride from the Massachusetts border to the clubhouse and have dinner there. The ride is over 20 miles with a steady climb and descent over three mountains (one at the start and two after the lunch break). The ride can be completed at a steady walk in about six hours.
Grafton Lakes State Park is a picturesque place with over 23 miles of well-marked equestrian trails. This trail system is featured in the Anne O’Dell book, Ride New York. The Grafton Trail Riders is an equestrian club begun over 50 years ago. Thanks to the forethought of our founders, today our organization owns 100 acres of land with facilities that include an arena, clubhouse, stall barn and pavilion.
Grafton Trail Riders
On April 12, 2015, The Grafton Trail Riders lost a good friend, Helen Ellett, 101. Helen had the vision of a "horseback riding club" in 1947. In 1948 she spoke to 7 other Grafton residents who also rode and together they made the decision to call the small group the Grafton Trail Riders. The events began in the "Barnhart Field" that is on the left side of what is now Helen's driveway. The owners of the property allowed them to use the ground. The small group coordinated shows & gymkhana's to raise money to buy what is now known as The Grafton Trail Riders.
In 1948, a collection of horse enthusiasts and trail riding friends began talking about forming a riding club. Their goals were to promote horsemanship, organize shows and gymkhanas, and to enjoy trail rides with friends. By 1950, the group was chartered and well recognized throughout the horse community.
Within a few years, acreage was acquired for club use, an arena was constructed and a meeting house was built. Among the many activities that the club undertook, the Over The Mountain Ride became the best known. Every year in the beginning of the spring and fall, a hardy group rode out from Grafton, New York across two mountain ranges to a campsite in Williamstown, Massachusetts. After a night of cowboy stew, stories and dreams under the stars, the group rode back to Grafton. The spirit of the ride continues every year!
The Over The Mountain Ride has evolved into a spectacular three-day weekend. As the club enters the 21st Century, its members continue to reflect on their rich and colorful history while planning new memories. The Club is located on 100 acres across the way from the picturesque Grafton Lakes State Park which has over 23 miles of well marked equestrian trails.
29 Trail Riders Way, Cropseyville, NY 12052