When dog owners go hiking, our first instinct is to bring our dogs along on the journey. It is great exercise and socialization for dogs to interact with others on the trail. Some trails are off limits to dogs because governmental parks share the land with cattle ranchers.

Others realize that off-leash dogs can damage vegetation, harass or kill wildlife, and leave urine or feces on the trail. Even if you are a responsible dog owner, unfortunately, some people are not. In order to keep our ecosystem safe, it is best to take your dogs on dog-friendly trails like the ones listed below!

East

Charlotte, VT- Mt. Philo State Park

Mt. Philo is a perfect hike for beginners located right outside of Burlington. You can take the trail in the woods or the road, but watch for cars and bikes. Dogs are allowed on-leash and there is an amazing view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains when you get to the top. It is a little less than two miles round trip, and there is a pleasant sitting area to have lunch at the peak. There are also campsites if you are interested in camping. In season, admission is $4 per adult.

Weston, MA- Cat Rock Park

Located just outside of Boston, Cat Rock Park has dog-friendly trails that allow dogs to be off-leash. There is plenty of shade on the trail and a small “swimming pool” as well! Despite its name, this park is filled with dogs every day and is a great place to meet other dog lovers. Parking can be tough because it is a popular location, but it is free for everyone during the week.

dog-friendly trails in the US
@life.with.winnie

South

Burnsville, NC- Mount Mitchell State Park

There are many opportunities to hike and walk with your dog at Mount Mitchell. This summit in the Black Mountains provides a more advanced hike if your dog needs to burn some extra energy. The entire park is dog-friendly, but owners must keep their dogs on the leash and out of the cabin areas. On a clear day, the 360-degree view is beautiful and offers plenty of doggie photo-ops.

Turnerville, GA- Panther Creek Trail

In northern Georgia, there is a popular out and back trail full of waterfalls. Panther Creek Trail is dog-friendly and is a seven-mile hike round trip. Many visitors often stop at the first waterfall and head back, but there is the opportunity to go farther. Dogs who enjoy swimming or jumping on rocks will love this trail and will probably get a little muddy, so bring a towel for your car seats. Parking is $4 per vehicle.

Midwest

Starbuck, MN- High Peak Trail

Located in Glacial Lakes State Park, High Peak Trail is an amazing loop for dog lovers. All dogs must stay on their leashes, but the trail offers three miles of sunny, open terrain. It is an easy hike and offers views of the highest point in the park. Since most of the trail is surrounded by grass, you and your dog should both come prepared to be protected against ticks. Vehicle park entrance fees are $7 per day.

Sundance, WY- Sheepnose Mountain

Sheepnose Mountain is a less traveled place in Wyoming to bike, ride, and hike. There is plenty of wildlife and livestock to be seen on this trail, so it is best if your dogs are on leash. It is an extremely peaceful, beautiful trail with a great view at the top, at just under five miles. Parking and entrance to this mountain is free.

best dog-friendly trails
@beachcomber_dogs

West

Junction City, CA- Canyon Creek Lakes Trail

Canyon Creek Trail is beautiful at any time of the year. It offers plenty of access to water and camping sites, which makes it very popular for tourists. The dog-friendly trails have over fourteen miles of nature and wildlife. It can get pretty hot during the summer, but there are places to cool off along the way.

Mosca, CO- High Dune Trail

High Dune is part of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Unlike a lot of national parks, dogs are allowed on leash at this hike! The view during this difficult two-mile adventure is worth the gain in elevation. Be sure to bring your camera and plenty of water. The entrance fee to the park is $25 for a seven-day pass, but trust me it will be worth it. Also check out their free days throughout the year.

Remember to bring plenty of water for your canine and make sure to let them rest once in a while. Many of the trails are made up of rough terrain and can damage the paw pads on their feet. Bring hiking booties or paw wax. It is also helpful to bring an elevated bed for your dog to rest along the way, especially if you stop for lunch. Have fun and happy hiking!

Author

Caitlin is originally from Vermont and has been working with animals since she can remember. She studied Behavioral Neuroscience and is now Mastering in Animal Shelter Management in Colorado. Her hobbies include horseback riding, fostering animals, and hiking in the Rocky Mountains. She has volunteered at five different animal shelters and worked in three different vet hospitals. Her passions include animal health, behavior, and enrichment. Caitlin also spends time taking high-quality photos of shelter animals to help them get adopted faster.

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