By Dr. Becker
Hiking is a great way to exercise while embracing the great outdoors, but you can also spend a day or a weekend exploring paths not yet taken (or old favorites) with your best canine buddy. If you’re looking for canine-compatible trails, the following list highlights five great trails across the U.S. to tackle with your pup.
Preparation is always a good idea, though, to make your experience (and your dog’s) fun and successful. See if there’s a park website with information pertaining to pets, trail renovations or weather alerts. Take along a six-foot leash and other necessary items, and make sure your pup is socially prepared to meet other dogs and owners on the trail.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
There are a number of beautiful spots in the Eastern part of the U.S., but the 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of pet-friendly carriage roads in Acadia National Park present numerous options. You can hike in the daytime with your pup on Isle au Haut, or at campgrounds such as Blackwoods, Schoodic or Seawall.
You’ll experience gorgeous wooded and ocean views along Park Loop Road, which is 27 miles long, but check park alerts, events and rules (such as keeping pets on six-feet minimum-length leashes and no lake swimming). Also, there are campgrounds and park trails that are either closed to or not recommended for pets, so make yourself aware of the guidelines.
2. Lake Dorothy, Washington
When you and your leashed canine hit these trails, you’ll find a quartet of gorgeous lakes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Lake Dorothy1 is only two miles off the beaten path; beyond are Bear and Deer lakes, as well as Snoqualmie Lake for the hardiest hikers. The vistas are varied, so the best trails for you and your canine are definitely there.
There and beyond, you’ll find numerous photo ops of whitewater rapids, Big Snow Mountain, switchbacks and trails both rocky and forested, so you have many hiking options, both moderate and more adventurous. Neither veteran backpackers nor afternoon hikers will be disappointed.
3. Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Because every one of the 19 trails on these desert vistas is open to pets (although leashes are recommended) Red Rock Canyon2 offers predominantly easy-to-moderate and only one difficulty level to make it ideal for you and your dog. The longest trail is only 6 miles long, and only one is deemed strenuous.
Along the way, you’ll discover panoramic views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, cooling in-season waterfalls and open desert to explore. This is one location you’ll want to make sure your dog has adequate drinking water.
4. The Cascades at Lake Mohegan, Connecticut
If your dog loves to swim on a hot day – or any kind of day – he’ll love The Cascades at Lake Mohegan.3 This dog-devoted, off-leash park was a construction zone before its transformation into a wildlife preserve with a beach, waterfall, creek, hiking trails, forests and fishing spots.
This is a popular place for dogs and their owners, reflected in the overwhelmingly positive park reviews regarding pup interaction, but be aware that 100 feet from the parking and picnic areas, leashing your dog is required.
5. Fairmount Park, Pennsylvania
For those desiring a less remote but serene expanse for your pup to stroll or run, Fairmount Park4 in Philadelphia offers a surprising medley of landscapes within its 9,200 acres. In fact, it’s one of the largest city park systems in the world, with a wide array of activities you can enjoy with your dog.
Easy wilderness trails are accompanied by wildlife, canopies of trees, rolling hills, natural landscapes – even a rose garden. You and your pup can also fish off the pier, play Frisbee, picnic and stroll to your heart’s content, all within easy reach of the city.