All of the best places in the Adirondacks have a unique story. Each town has something special to offer, whether it’s a downtown coffee shop or proximity to the 46 High Peaks. Circle B Ranch, one of these unique Adirondack places, has been around since the 1800s, as a farm in its first iteration. Since then, the land has never been developed, aside from additions made by the ranch, and it is surrounded by over 3,000 acres of wilderness. Today you can go on a horseback ride, sleigh ride, hayride, and even take lessons there!
Greg Boggia is the ranch’s current owner. His father purchased the farm in 1960 to save it from permanent closure. As a child, Greg’s family used to vacation in Loon Lake from New York City every summer, and the farm was where they rode horses. He remembers riding horses there as early as 2 years old.
Greg’s father was second generation —with parents from Italy — and he made his way to Lake Placid in 1915 because his father (Greg’s grandfather) worked as a chef at the famed Stevens Club. His wife, Greg’s grandmother, worked as a chamber maid. It’s not hard to believe that immigrants from Italy would be inspired and made to feel at home in a mountain town not too different in landscape from Piedmont, which is at the foothills of the Alps in Italy.
Greg, though, grew up in New York City until he was about 9 years old, when his father bought the farm. At the time it consisted of a barn and stable. Young Greg changed the name of the stable by simply turning the “R” of Circle R into a “B” for Boggia by painting over the letter.
Soon Greg and his brother would learn all about horses by simply taking care of the necessary tasks in the stable. They knew almost nothing about this, but they learned by doing and watching. As adults, they would come to co-own and operate not just a stable, but a ranch that provides English-style lessons, horseback riding, sleigh rides, hayrides, and an indoor arena for riding. Circle B also sells horses and provides horse training. Today, the love and care that the ranch’s staff members extend to the horses and other animals at the ranch are unmistakable. Each staff member, including Greg, speaks fondly of the different horses, knowing their nuances, their pet peeves, and other quirks.
In 1987, Greg’s father passed away and left the business to his sons. The stable was then run as a dude ranch until the late '90s. In 2016, Greg officially bought the ranch from his brother. From the very beginning the ranch has been a family endeavor. Greg has watched it grow into a multiple-operation ranch with an elegant indoor arena fit for all four seasons.
Circle B now boards ten horses and continuously make new progress as a business. The Boggias recently acquired the neighboring 500 acres, and are building a new trail system that spans 750 acres. This trail extension will also include a bridge enabling riders to reach higher terrain for even more stellar views of the surrounding 3,000-acre park.
Greg is proud, as he should be, of his mom-and-pop operation that has turned into one of the most popular ranches in the region. He sees tourists coming from both north and south. There is a reason for Circle B’s popularity, of course: One of Greg’s philosophies is to customize the experience for each new group that visits the ranch. Circle B will often host small groups for up to three hours at a time. This means that there are plenty of opportunities for stopping on a ride to catch the views. He also said this creates more intimacy between riders and their guides. The guides can tailor the ride for each group.
Circle B’s year-round status also accommodates a unique experience that each season brings with it, and fall is their busiest time of year because the views are stunning and the foliage is bursting with color. One of the driving forces behind staying open for all four seasons, according to Greg, is to fulfill Circle B’s commitment to sustainable tourism in the region. Greg has lived at the ranch for most of life and has raised his kids there. He views Schroon Lake as budding with opportunity for tourists and locals alike. His ranch hasn’t just benefited the Schroon Lake Region, though. His horses have been rented for such high profile events as the ADK Challenge, hosted by Governor Cuomo’s office. The ranch also serves the community by hosting Girl Scout camps and a women’s equestrian club from Union College to name just a couple regular groups that visit.
I always appreciate a good story when I am visiting a new place, and it’s often the story that inspires me to return. In this case, Greg’s family ties to a ranch that almost saw its demise in the early '60s inspires me to think of all the places that have been on the brink of loss. Fortunately, we don’t have to imagine what would have happened to the land at Circle B because it has been preserved and the ranch is thriving.
During my visit to Circle B, my ROOST co-workers and I went for a horseback ride through the trails. Sharon and Malcolm guided us. Sharon has been riding since she was 3 years old and Malcolm estimates that he’s been riding for about 30 years. Like all the guides at Circle B, they are experienced, caring, and committed to the horses. They are also passionate and talented riders to say the least. Most of them participate in competitions and have lifelong careers working with horses in different capacities.
Sharon and Malcolm prepared us well for the ride ahead, making sure we were fit comfortably on our respective horse. All of us, except Sarah, were novices. Before we headed out we learned basic signals for directing our horse. The horses are well trained for this kind of ride and even start to show their personality the longer you spend on the trails with them.
Below shows you some of the fun we had riding horses at Circle B Ranch!
Whether you're coming from north or south, you will hop on I-87 and then NY-8. Circle B is located at 771 Potter Brook Road in Chestertown, about a 15 minute drive from downtown Schroon Lake and a two minute drive from Friends Lake.
Don't miss the other opportunities for horseback riding in the area. The Schroon Lake Region is also home to Frontier Town Campground, Equestrian and Day Use Area, which offers thirty-three equestrian campsites and miles of trails to explore. Check our horseback riding page for more details.
This week in ADK news: