Whether you’re traveling with your dog in tow or seeking a challenging trail that will wear her out, there are plenty of dog-friendly hiking trails to explore. Hiking with your dog ensures quality exercise, bonding time, plus time spent in nature. Together, you can find scenic views and a plethora of new scents.
Of course, a hike with a four-legged friend requires planning—some national parks have “no-dog” rules, certain trails might be too sunny for your pet, and the Great Outdoors comes with risks (like bears, if you’re really out in the wild).
Consider this your guide to hiking safely with your dog, with a round-up of gorgeous dog-friendly hiking trails around the world to choose from.
Hiking Safety for Dogs
Before you set off, make sure to bring plenty of water, a bowl, snacks for fuel and good behavior, doggy bags, a short leash (many parks go by the 6-foot length limit), a small first aid kit, and dog hiking boots (if gravel, hot sand, rocky terrain, or cacti lie ahead).
You should also make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, such as Lyme disease, rabies, distemper and Bordetella, to protect against risks she may encounter on the trail. Your dog should also be on a monthly parasite protection medication, such as Interceptor® Plus (milbemycin oxime/praziquantel), to protect herself against heartworm disease and hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections.
Your dog may also be exposed to ticks while hiking, so ask your veterinarian whether a prescription tick and flea medication, like Credelio® (lotilaner), makes sense for your furry companion. If your dog brushes up against leaves or tall grass where ticks are hiding, they can easily grab a hold of her fur and hitch a ride.
See important safety information for Interceptor® Plus and Credelio® below.
As you embark on your adventure, remember to keep you and your dog safe no matter the hike by staying on the beaten trail. Keep an eye out for wildlife and snakes to avoid a showdown or barkfest. This is where a leash comes in handy, so you can maintain control and move your dog away to safety.
Finally, make sure your pup is in-shape enough to tackle the trail and climate. Desert hikes, steep trails, and high altitudes can be especially challenging.
12 Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails
Need some help choosing where to go? Here are 12 solid picks for dog-friendly hiking trails across the U.S. and beyond.
Ocean Path and Gorham Mountain Loop Trail
Acadia National Park, Maine
At Acadia National Park in Maine, you and your dog will have access to 100 miles of hiking trails, 45 miles of carriage roads, and a few campgrounds. For classic panoramic views of Maine’s coast, including overlooks of Mount Desert Island and Frenchman Bay, take the 3-ish mile Ocean Path and Gorham Mountain Loop Trail, where you can meander down to a beach, check out a shallow sea cave, and have wildflowers to sniff through. Just don’t hike onto the Cadillac Cliffs Trail (rocky and steep, it’s no-dogs-allowed territory for good reason) and keep in mind that Sand Beach, where the trail ends, is seasonal—a no-dog zone from mid-June through the first week in September.
Open May through mid-December with a $30 car fee.
Golden Cap Estate, Dorset, England
The Stonebarrow Walk on the Golden Cap Estate in Dorset, England, promises rolling hills, pastoral fields, ancient hedgerows, and dramatic views along the English Channel coast. At only 1.7 miles, it’s an easy circular route to enjoy with your dog within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At low tide, walk along the village of Charmouth’s east beach to admire the towering cliffs at the base of Stonebarrow Hill. If the weather’s right, your dog might even enjoy a quick splash in the sea. Or, make a pit stop at one of the dog-friendly pubs in the village.
Park at Stonebarrow Car Park or access by foot from the South West Coast Path; From July 1-Aug. 31, dogs are not allowed on Charmouth’s east beach between 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Rose River Trail
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If your dog’s a water lover (hello, Labradors!), head for Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and park at Skyline Drive to hike the Rose River Trail. It’s a 4-mile hike that’ll bring you through the forest, by multiple waterfalls, and swimming spots to splash into. Bring bug spray (gnats can be a problem) and expect a few bridge crossings (which might mean coaxing your dog to the other side). Otherwise? Take your time, enjoy the sound of cascading water, and let your pup play.
Open year-round with a $30 car fee.
Bear Peak Canyon Loop Trail
Steep and then steeper with an elevation of over 8,400 feet, this day hike (it’s over 7 miles) in Boulder, Colorado, can be a bear (rating: difficult); a smart pick for a pack of high-energy strong dogs. The stair-studded trek proves well worth the climb, though, as you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Boulder and Denver below. Along the way, look out for black bears (pack bear mace and bear-resistant food containers just in case) and bring dog booties, too, as it gets rocky at the top. At the end, stretch out your legs and let your dog frolic through meadows full of flowers.
Best hiking conditions March to November; free parking at the National Center for Atmospheric Research off of Table Mesa Drive.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany
For the ultimate fairytale experience, visit the Narnia-like Partnach Gorge, located just outside of the Bavarian ski town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The natural landmark guides visitors through 2,300 feet of jaw-dropping waterfalls, dim caves, and icy blue, rushing rapids. The terrain is easy and offers a paved path that starts at the historic Olympic Stadium, where the 1936 games were held. Hikers enjoy a scenic 25-minute walk before entering the gorge. The whole hike from the stadium through the gorge is approximately 2 miles roundtrip, but hikers have the option of continuing on to additional mountain trails that showcase the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. Dogs are allowed on this hike but they must be leashed at all times.
Open all year round, from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. from May-June and in October; 6 a.m.-10 p.m. from July-September; and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. November-April. Cost: 6,00 EUR for Adults, 3,00 EUR for kids (ages 6-17).
Duck Pass Trail in Inyo National Forest
Mammoth Lakes, California
For must-see views of California (snow-capped peaks, blue-green alpine lakes, the rugged Sierra Nevada peaks), take your dog along the 5.5-mile Duck Pass Trail in Mammoth Lakes, which starts out steep but eventually levels out for sweeping views of meadows, streams, lakes, and the John Muir wilderness. As you are in bear and mountain lion territory, be sure to pack bear mace and bear-resistant food containers to be safe.
Open year-round; access trailhead via Coldwater Campground.
Twin Peaks Trail
Another steep-but-worth-it hike, Twin Peaks Trail in Palmer, Alaska, is a favorite for dog lovers. Just an hour north of Anchorage, this trail begins in thick cottonwood, birch, and spruce forests and ends with a gorgeous view of the 8-mile long, blue-green Eklutna Lake. Along the way, look out for black bears (again, bear mace is your friend), as well as mountain goats, dall sheep, and even bald eagles.
Best hiking conditions March to September; access trailhead via Ekultna Lake Road.
Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline Trail
A quieter, more secluded hike compared to its busy neighbor (a 2-miler to the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse), the 1-mile Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline Trail in Honolulu, Hawaii, makes for an easygoing stroll-meets-hike with postcard-worthy views of the southeastern Oahu coastline. The best part? Look out for humpback whales (as many as 10,000 visit each year to mate!) from November through May. As this hike is often in full sun, pack lots of water and bring dog booties if the ground is hot.
Access trailhead via Kalanianaʻole Hwy.
Chamonix to Le Brévent
If panoramic views of Mont Blanc in the French Alps from 2,525 meters above sea level sounds impossible with a dog, think again. You and your canine companion can ride the gondola lift from the popular ski resort town of Chamonix to Planpraz, and then take a cable car to Le Brévent (using utmost caution, of course). While not all lifts along the 110-mile Tour du Mont-Blanc are dog-friendly, these two make the cut. Both areas make great departure points for various hikes and walks of your choosing. Just make sure to keep your dog on a leash.
Lifts run from mid-June to mid-September. Roundtrip ticket cost, Chamonix to Brévent: 34 EUR for adults, 28.90 EUR for children (free entry children under 5). Subject to favorable weather.
White Rock Hills Loop at Red Rock Canyon
Las Vegas, Nevada
Less than half an hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip, the 6-ish mile White Rock Hills Loop in Nevada offers everything you’d want out of a hike in the Mojave Desert: access to canyons, a creek, a waterfall, and sights of ancient Native American petroglyphs and carvings. Plus, it’s one of the most biologically-diverse areas around with bighorn sheep, kit foxes, and creepy critters like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and venomous spiders (two words: short leash). As the weather conditions can be extreme here, remember to never leave your dog in the car, pack lots of water, check for thunderstorms, and bring dog booties, as the hot ground and cacti can burn and prick paws.
Best hiking conditions March to October; access via Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area with a $15 per car fee.
Tunnel Mountain Summit Trail
Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Just a 15-minute walk from the charming village of Banff (which has many dog-friendly hotels), this popular hike makes for the ideal early morning jaunt, especially if you’re looking to beat the crowds. You’ll need to pant up a few switchbacks to get there, but you’ll be rewarded with a picture-perfect view of rolling mountain peaks, rocky Mount Rundle, and the Bow River winding through the valley. As the area is home to grizzly bears, cougars, bison, and elk, pack bear mace and keep your pup on a tight leash.
Walk or drive to parking lot at St. Julien Road and access trail via Roam Route 7. Open year-round.
Noordwijk, South Holland, the Netherlands
Who says hikes have to be in the mountains? If you find yourself in the Netherlands, consider taking your pup to the water. National Geographic rated this super dog-friendly beach in Noordwijk, a seaside town that’s a quick day trip from Amsterdam, as one of the top beaches in the world in 2017. It has scenic, waterfront walking trails for you and pup and plenty of space for him to run free (and if you time your trip right, you could see blooming tulip fields nearby, too).
Parking is available in many spots along the 8-ish mile beachfront.
Credelio kills adult fleas and is indicated for the treatment and prevention of flea infestations, treatment and control of tick infestations (lone star tick, American dog tick, black-legged tick, and brown dog tick) for one month in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and 4.4 pounds or greater.
Credelio Important Safety Information
Lotilaner is a member of the isoxazoline class of drugs. This class has been associated with neurologic adverse reactions including tremors, incoordination, and seizures. Seizures have been reported in dogs receiving this class of drugs, even in dogs without a history of seizures. Use with caution in dogs with a history of seizures or neurologic disorders. The safe use of Credelio in breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs has not been evaluated. The most frequently reported adverse reactions are weight loss, elevated blood urea nitrogen, increased urination, and diarrhea. For complete safety information, please see Credelio product label or ask your veterinarian.
Interceptor Plus Indications
Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm disease and treats and controls adult roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, and tapeworm infections in dogs and puppies 6 weeks or older and 2 pounds or greater.
Interceptor Plus Important Safety Information
Treatment with fewer than 6 monthly doses after the last exposure to mosquitoes may not provide complete heartworm prevention. Prior to administration of Interceptor Plus, dogs should be tested for existing heartworm infections. The safety of Interceptor Plus has not been evaluated in dogs used for breeding or in lactating females. The following adverse reactions have been reported in dogs after administration of milbemycin oxime or praziquantel: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased activity, incoordination, weight loss, convulsions, weakness, and salivation. For complete safety information, please see Interceptor Plus product label or ask your veterinarian.
Disclaimer: The author received compensation from Elanco US Inc., the maker of Interceptor Plus and Credelio, for her services in writing this article. Recommendations in this article are the author’s, and are not recommendations of Elanco.
Credelio and Interceptor are trademarks of Elanco or its affiliates.
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