Exploring the Great Outdoors Together: The Best Dog-Friendly Hikes and Trails

5 min readMar 11, 2024

The bond between humans and their canine companions is a special one, and what better way to strengthen that bond than by exploring the great outdoors together? Hiking with your furry friend can be a rewarding experience, offering both physical activity and the chance to witness nature’s beauty.

However, not all trails are suitable for dogs, so finding dog-friendly hikes is essential for a safe and enjoyable adventure.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best dog-friendly hikes and trails across various regions, ensuring both you and your four-legged friend have an unforgettable outdoor experience.

Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with its lush forests, towering mountains, and breathtaking coastlines. For dog-friendly hikes in this region, consider exploring:

Dog Mountain Trail (Washington): Located in the Columbia River Gorge, this trail offers stunning views of wildflowers in spring and panoramic vistas of the Columbia River. Dogs are welcome on leash, making it a great choice for a day hike.

McKenzie River Trail (Oregon): This scenic trail follows the McKenzie River, passing by waterfalls, hot springs, and old-growth forests. Dogs are allowed on leash, and with its moderate difficulty level, it’s suitable for most canine companions.


From the desert landscapes of Arizona to the alpine forests of Colorado, the Southwest boasts a diverse range of dog-friendly hiking options. Some notable trails include:

Sedona’s Red Rock Country (Arizona): With its striking red sandstone formations and numerous hiking trails, Sedona is a paradise for both humans and dogs. Many trails in the area allow dogs on leash, such as the Bell Rock Pathway and the West Fork Oak Creek Trail.

Mount Sanitas Trail (Colorado): Located near Boulder, this popular trail offers panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains and the city below. Dogs are allowed on leash, and while the trail is steep in parts, it’s a rewarding challenge for adventurous pups.


Despite its reputation for flat terrain, the Midwest offers plenty of dog-friendly hiking opportunities, particularly in its state parks and nature reserves. Consider exploring:

Devil’s Lake State Park (Wisconsin): This stunning park features quartzite bluffs, clear blue lakes, and over 29 miles of hiking trails. Dogs are allowed on leash on most trails, including the popular East Bluff and West Bluff trails.

Turkey Run State Park (Indiana): Known for its rugged sandstone gorges and scenic waterfalls, Turkey Run State Park offers several dog-friendly trails, including the challenging Trail 3 and the more leisurely Lusk Home Nature Trail.


From the rugged coastline of Maine to the lush forests of Vermont, the Northeast is home to some of the country’s most picturesque hiking trails. Dog-friendly options include:

Acadia National Park (Maine): With its rocky shores, granite peaks, and diverse wildlife, Acadia National Park offers endless opportunities for exploration. While dogs are not allowed on most trails within the park, they are welcome on leash on the carriage roads and several designated hiking trails.

Camel’s Hump (Vermont): This iconic peak in the Green Mountains offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside. Dogs are allowed on leash on the Burrows Trail, which leads to the summit, providing a challenging but rewarding hike for both you and your furry companion.

Tips for Hiking with Your Dog

Hiking with your dog can be a wonderful experience, but it’s essential to be prepared and considerate of both your pet’s needs and the environment. Here are some additional tips to help ensure a safe and enjoyable hike with your furry companion:

Training and Preparation

Before hitting the trails, ensure that your dog is properly trained and socialized. Basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” and “come” are crucial for maintaining control in outdoor settings. Gradually build up your dog’s endurance and stamina through regular walks and shorter hikes before attempting longer or more challenging trails.

Consider your dog’s age, breed, and health status when planning hikes. Puppies, senior dogs, and certain breeds may have limitations or require extra care on the trail.

Gear and Equipment

Invest in a sturdy, comfortable harness or collar and a reliable leash to keep your dog secure during the hike. Retractable leashes are not recommended for hiking, as they can easily tangle or break.

Bring along a well-fitted backpack for your dog to carry their own supplies, such as water, food, collapsible bowls, and waste bags. Be mindful not to overload the backpack, especially for smaller or less experienced dogs. Consider outfitting your dog with protective gear such as booties to shield their paws from rough terrain, hot surfaces, or sharp objects.

Hydration and Nutrition

Hydration is crucial for both you and your dog during hikes, especially in hot weather. Bring plenty of water and offer frequent breaks for drinking.

Pack lightweight, portable snacks or treats to keep your dog energized on the trail. Avoid feeding them large meals right before or during the hike, as it can lead to discomfort or digestive issues.

Health and Safety

Ensure that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and any necessary medications before embarking on a hike. Check the weather forecast before heading out, and be prepared for changes in conditions.

Extreme heat, cold, or inclement weather can pose risks to your dog’s health and safety. Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior and physical condition throughout the hike. Watch for signs of fatigue, overheating, injury, or distress, and be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly.

Stay alert to potential hazards on the trail, such as wildlife, toxic plants, steep cliffs, or uneven terrain. Keep your dog on leash and under control to prevent accidents or encounters with other hikers and their pets.

Leave No Trace

Respect the natural environment and adhere to Leave No Trace principles by properly disposing of waste, staying on designated trails, and avoiding sensitive habitats. Pack out any waste produced by your dog, including feces and discarded items such as water bottles or food wrappers.

Minimize disturbances to wildlife and other hikers by keeping noise levels low and respecting wildlife corridors and protected areas.


Exploring the great outdoors with your dog can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, strengthening the bond between you and your furry friend while immersing yourselves in the beauty of nature.

Whether you’re hiking through the forests of the Pacific Northwest, the deserts of the Southwest, the rolling hills of the Midwest, or the rugged terrain of the Northeast, there are plenty of dog-friendly trails waiting to be explored.

By following the tips outlined in this article and choosing trails that are suitable for both you and your dog, you can embark on unforgettable adventures together, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Want more tips? Click here and get a free E-Book: 15 SIMPLE WAS TO IMPROVE YOUR DOG’S LIFE

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