10 Dog-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.

Lauren Krouse
by Lauren Krouse
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10 Dog-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.

With the cooler temps and beautiful foliage, fall is the ideal time to go on a few hikes — and take your dog with you. Hiking is a great way to bond with your pup and get a mood boost from exercising in the great outdoors.

While some national parks aren’t dog-friendly, there are plenty of trails across the United States open to our four-legged friends. Before you head out, remember to check the rules and regulations (many parks require a short, six-foot leash) and pack plenty of water, treats for good behavior and doggy bags.

Here, 10 trails with dog-friendly features to check off your bucket list this fall:

10 Dog-Friendly Hikes in the U.S.

RUNYON CANYON PARK LOOP
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 

For urban-dwelling dog owners, Runyon Canyon Park is located within L.A.’s city limits and boasts a 130-acre dog park where your pup can run free and socialize off-leash. The wide, well-worn 3.3-mile loop offers rolling hills for an easy-to-moderate jaunt and classic views of the city, mountains and ocean. Just be aware the trail can be quite busy, so it’s best for pups that play well with others.

DUCK PASS TRAIL
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA

Home of the famed Mt. Whitney and Mammoth Lakes, the 5.5-mile Duck Pass Trail in Inyo National Forest is a steep hike best suited for athletic, high-energy dogs. But the highlights — which include dog-friendly lakes for swimming as well as sweeping views of meadowlands — are well worth the climb. The trail also provides a large amount of shade, so your dog won’t overheat.

DOG OFF-LEASH AREA
AURORA, COLORADO

It’s no wonder more than 250,000 dog lovers visit the dog off-leash area (also known as DOLA) in Cherry Creek State Park each year — it’s basically heaven on earth for dogs. Picture 107 acres of short-grass prairie lands with colorful woodlands, a flowing creek to splash in and countless new furry friends to sniff. Paved walkways make for an easy hike for dog owners, and you can book a dog-friendly campground a short drive away.

GORHAM MOUNTAIN LOOP TRAIL
BAR HARBOR, MAINE

In the fall, the old-growth forests in Acadia National Park turn vibrant orange for gorgeous autumn views. There, you and your pup are welcome to stay at a few campgrounds and explore 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of car-free carriage roads. For an intermediate-level, 3.5-mile hike, try the Gorham Mountain Loop trail. Enjoy panoramic views of Maine’s mountain peaks and rocky coastline, a pit stop for your pup to explore a shallow sea cave, and the grand finale: It ends at a dog-friendly beach beginning in mid-September.

WETMORE LANDING SHORELINE TRAIL
MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN

For a dog that craves variety, check out the 3.6-mile Wetmore Landing Shoreline trail in northern Michigan. The trail features boulders, bridges, rolling hills, steep steps, a rocky shoreline and dog-friendly beaches. Best of all, you’ll be rewarded with postcard-worthy views of the mighty Lake Superior. Note: Dogs must be kept on-leash, so it’s a good hike for shy dogs who prefer to keep to themselves.

GEDNEY PARK TRAIL
CHAPPAQUA, NEW YORK

Located just 30 miles north of New York City in the lush Hudson River Valley, the Gedney Park Trail offers a sprawling, 126-acre escape dogs can freely explore off-leash. If your pups love sprinting off extra energy, consider this paradise with miles of crunchy, leaf-strewn paths and numerous dog-friendly features including streams, wetlands and a large lake to leap into. Note: Check yourself and your dog for ticks after the adventure is over.

TWIN FALLS VIA BARTON CREEK GREENBELT TRAIL
AUSTIN, TEXAS

Not far from downtown Austin, the Greenbelt Trail is the ideal woodland getaway if you’re looking to hike, bike, climb boulders and swim — all with Fido in tow. The payoff arrives fast with waterfalls only about a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. While just how much the water’s flowing depends on recent rainfall totals, there are numerous swimming holes. Daring dogs love leaping off of mini-cliffs for a dynamic game of fetch while you take in the beautiful orange-red fall leaves.

BIG WATER TRAIL
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Considered one of the most dog-friendly trails in the state, the 6-mile Big Water Trail features fall colors, tall evergreens and a final stopping-point at Dog Lake. An important note: Dogs are allowed off-leash on odd-numbered days but must be leashed on even-numbered days (always keep them leashed in parking areas, at trailheads, and away from Big Cottonwood Canyon entirely, which is not dog-friendly territory). Hounds will love picking up the wildlife scents, as you may encounter deer, moose and more.

ROSE RIVER FALLS TRAIL
SYRIA, VIRGINIA

Shenandoah National Park boasts more than 500 miles of hiking trails (only 20 miles of which are not dog-friendly), plus some of the most stunning views of patchwork fall leaves and rolling purple-blue mountains you can find in the Southeastern United States. Water-loving dogs adore the shady Rose River Falls Trail, which features 4 miles of easygoing, not-too-steep hiking alongside cascading waterfalls with multiple swimming holes.

BARCLAY LAKE TRAIL
GOLD BAR, WASHINGTON 

About an hour and a half drive from Seattle, the Barclay Lake Trail is an easy, low-elevation 4.4-mile roundtrip hike good for healthy dogs of all ages and sizes. While your dog will certainly enjoy a relaxing walk along Barclay Creek, be sure to pack a picnic. At the end of the trail, you’ll find astounding views of the rocky, snow-capped Baring Peak towering over the pristine Barclay Lake. Enjoy the changing fall colors as you let your dog off-leash to take a swim. Note: There is a bridge at the 1.2-mile mark that can be slippery, so keep your pup close when you cross it.

Make progress every day while you work on fitness and nutrition goals, like walking more steps. Go to “Plans” in the MyFitnessPal app for daily coaching and easy-to-follow tasks to keep you motivated.

About the Author

Lauren Krouse
Lauren Krouse

Lauren Krouse is a freelance writer and researcher based in North Carolina. A graduate of the MFA in Creative Nonfiction program at UNC-Wilmington, she loves writing about all things health, fitness, politics, and activism. When she’s not typing away, you can find her meditating, weightlifting, playing soccer, or walking in the woods with her partner and two rescue dogs.

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