The sun’s out, the weather’s warm and summer is in full swing, so make  time to head for the hills to enjoy forested adventure with folks who know all about western hospitality. In Oregon’s coast range mountains, sit tall in the saddle and enjoy unique perspective on a summer horseback ride at the Flying M Ranch in Yamhill County.

The ranch’s 100-yard air strip is a perfect fit for short, fast takeoffs and landings. Pilot Doug Jackson said small aircraft fly in from all over Oregon just for the weekly morning gathering each Sunday, where they’re greeted by a fresh breakfast cooked up by Flying M Ranch owner, operator and chief cook Barbara Mitchell. The Flying M Ranch House has served up down-home comfort for decades. In fact, the ranch house is an old CCC headquarters building that housed the boys who worked in the local woods back in the 1930s.

Today, in addition to a dining area, it’s a bed and breakfast. “We’ve just three rooms and it’s not ritzy, like the B&Bs in town,” says Mitchell. “We tell everyone that we live on a gravel road and it’s in the woods, but still they come for the peace and solitude.”

The Mitchell family’s roots reach back a century when Barbara’s husband Bryce’s parents settled in the area. The Mitchells have been in the hospitality business since 1971, when the ranch started trail rides across their forestland. Today, her granddaughter Jessica Reber –  plus a small army of  sisters and cousins – hold on to the reins of the daily trail rides. There are more than thirty horses at the Flying M, and each horse is matched with the skill level of the riders who show up to enjoy an hour, two-hour or day-long adventure. There are countless trails to ride along the eastern flanks of the coast range hillsides that rise to the top of Trask Mountain.

During the heat of summer, riders can stay along the banks of the nearby North Fork Yamhill River that meanders through the Mitchell property. It’s cool and refreshing for riders and horses alike.

“There are so many trails,” says Reber. “Something for everyone and I enjoy taking people on their first horseback ride ever. Oregon is so beautiful and each season offers a different look and feel as you ride through the forest. It really is special.”

The Flying M’s ‘Ranch House Breakfast’ is special too and if you go, bring an appetite. It occurs each Sunday and reservations are required.

Trail riding is open year round, seven days a week and you can join a guided tour by calling ahead.

About the Author: Grant McOmie

Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

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  1. Monique says…

    I think the information in this story about the flying m ranch maybe outdated. I believe the ranch was purchased from the mitchells by the church group it is now not open to the general public. I think the lodge is closed and I’m not sure about if you can still horseback ride there or fly airplanes in

    Written on August 3rd, 2012 / Flag this Comment
  2. Emily Forsha says…

    Flying M Ranch is open to the public year-round. Check out their listing here for more details: http://traveloregon.com/see-do/recreation/guides-charters-recreation/hunting/flying-m-ranch/

    Written on August 10th, 2012 / Flag this Comment
  3. Dawn says…

    Yes the lodge is now a church group but the Flying M Ranch is still open. It has a b&b, camping shacks, camping, horseback riding and is still available for weddings as well!

    Written on October 3rd, 2012 / Flag this Comment
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