Cool dog-friendly National Parks to hike this summer

Photo: Thirdman/PEXELS

While most parks allow dogs, they typically have trails specifically designated as dog friendly.
by Kim Salerno

Hiking is so much more enjoyable when you can take your four-legged sidekick along. Finding the perfect place to hike with your pup may require a bit more digging, but it’s certainly time well spent.

While it may be intuitive to think that all hiking trails allow dogs, that’s not always the case. While most parks allow dogs, they typically have trails specifically designated as dog friendly.

In addition, some trails require dogs to be leashed while hiking, while others allow dogs to be off-leash. Another consideration is the dog-friendly trails’ rating. They can range from easy to very strenuous. You need to determine if your dog (and you) are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced hiker.

The good news is that there are many dog-friendly hiking trails in parks across the United States.

Here are some fan-favorites – from coast to coast!

Pisgah National Forest

Pisgah National Forest is located in western North Carolina in Brevard, NC. However, it surrounds almost all of the ever popular pet-friendly destination, Asheville, NC. Pisgah National Forest boasts over 500,000 acres of some of the most majestic and rugged mountain scenery, as well as the best outdoor exploration in eastern North America. In addition, you and your pooch will find whitewater rivers, waterfalls, along with hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

One of the more popular dog-friendly trails is Sam Nob Trail. It’s a moderate trail that is 2.5 miles and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. It’s well maintained, has beautiful views, and has a stair portion. Dogs must be on-leash.

Acadia National Park

Located in the bayside town of Bar Harbor, this spectacular park is Maine’s only National Park…but it sure is a must-visit for hikers and their pups. Located on Maine’s amazing coast, across from the infamous Mount Desert Island, this park is sure to please two and four-legged visitors. Dogs are welcome on almost all trails and carriage roads. With approximately 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails – you’ll find trails from beginners to advanced.

One of the more popular dog-friendly beginners’ trail is the Wonderland Trail. It’s a short, 1.5 mile trail that takes you out to the ocean and through Maine’s lush forest. Hiking pups must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park is located in the glorious Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It lies just west of Washington, D.C. The Park stretches 105 miles with entrances at Waynesboro, VA and Front Royal, VA. This scenic park boasts towering waterfalls, lots of wildlife, and spectacular views. They have approximately 100 miles of hiking trails. And the good news is dogs are permitted on almost all of them. However, the general rule is that dogs must be on-leash. However, some trails do allow dogs to be off-leash.

A popular dog-friendly trail is the Hawksbill Loop Trail. It’s considered a moderately challenging route. It takes approximately 1 ½ hours to complete. Dogs may be off-leash in some areas of this trail.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies along the Cuyahoga River between the Ohio cities of Cleveland and Akron. Dog-friendlyCuyahoga boasts over 100 miles of trails that welcome dogs. Known as a refuge for native plants and wildlife, the dog-friendly park provides visitors with a plethora of discoveries. The spectacular winding Cuyahoga River sweeps into deep forests and rolling hills.

Top rated moderate dog-friendly trails to hike in Cuyahoga Valley National Park include Salt Run, Kendall Lake and Cross Country Trails. For an easier jaunt, take the ever-popular Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal. Dogs must be leashed.

Olympic National Park

There’s something for everyone (and dog) at Olympic National Park. In addition to plenty of hiking trails, this popular spot has beaches, waterfalls, and breathtaking, lush rainforests. Located near Port Angeles and Squim, WA,Olympic National Park allows pups on a number of hiking trails as well as various sections of the beaches.

Devils Punchbowl via Spruce Railroad Trail is a great dog-friendly hike. It takes you along the shoreline of the lake. This trail is considered easy and takes about 50 minutes to complete. Dogs must be on-leash.

Grab your four-legged hiking buddy and hit the trails!

Kim Salerno is CEO/Founder for TripsWithPets, Inc. TripsWithPets is a leader in the pet travel industry – providing online reservations at pet-friendly hotels across the United States and Canada.

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