There is nothing quite like taking a day out riding on the amazing stretches of land surrounding the Rancho. As the horses’ hooves clip clop along the dusty road, you feel the sun on your back and your mind drifts into a calm meditative state – a state where it feels like you are almost stepping back in time. And as your mind wanders, you begin to wonder what it must have been like riding through these trails hundreds of years ago.
There are trails around the Rancho that are, in fact, steeped in a rich history, as they intersect with parts of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro: The Royal Road of the Interior Land.
The Silver Route, as it’s also known, was created by the Spanish conquest of the New World. In the early 1500’s their silver mining in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia eclipsed anything that had come before that time, accounting for over 85 percent of world production and trade.
This main trade route stemmed from Mexico City all the way up to Santa Fe. They would mine the silver from the mountains, particularly of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, and then cart it back along the trails in huge mule trains, up to 100 mules at once, to Mexico City where it was smelted, stamped and transported back to Spain. These mule trains were notorious for attracting a great deal of plunder and so were often heavily guarded.
When the mule trains returned north, they brought back with them fineries from Europe, exotic foreign treasures, spices, art, furnishings and people from around the world. This influx of cultures as the trains pushed north created mining towns and habitation along the route. It also created cultural, religious and social links between the Amerindian and Spanish cultures.
The entire route of The Silver Trail took a staggering six months to travel along, which would include around two to three weeks of rest also. But from around the 1800s, the railroads began to replace the dusty, arduous trails and travel now became almost luxurious in comparison.
In 2010 many sites in Mexico on The Silver Trail were classed as UNESCO world heritage sites, including neighbouring San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
It is a special experience to ride from the Rancho and experience these fascinating trails. There are four particular day rides that intersect with varying parts of the route. Let yourself hit a quiet contemplative moment on horseback, allow your imagination to run as wild as the horses once were and imagine how it was to ride along generations ago, where you might have camped, how you would have taken your food along with you, and where plunderers might have sprung from.
Whether you let your mind wander as you ride the trails or take a day trip to San Miguel and purchase some of the wonderful hand crafted silver, you will be quick to realize this is a land with riding and more, steeped in riches.