dog-friendly hikes
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Chewy EditorialPet Parenting / Travel

Hit the Trail With Our 16 “Dog-Approved” Hikes

A fresh forest breeze filling your lungs, the rustle of nearby wildlife, the satisfying crunch of leaves beneath your boot—are you feeling the call of the wild yet? Us too. In fact, hiking is having a major moment right now, so there’s no better time to set foot on your nearest trail. And here’s the best part: If you choose a dog-friendly hike, your perfect hiking companion just might be that furry creature sleeping at the foot of your bed.

It’s only natural to want to bring your pup on your great outdoor adventures. But where to begin? Start by getting your vet’s clearance to go hiking, brushing up on basic hiking safety tips and gathering your hiking gear. Then, explore our list of the best dog-friendly hikes in the U.S.

Note: Due to COVID-19, amenities such as restrooms and visitor centers may be closed. Be sure to check for current closures or restrictions before visiting any trails or parks.


West and Pacific Northwest

dog-friendly hikes
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Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve Loop

  • Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, 12020 Black Mountain Rd, San Diego, CA 92129
  • 7.3-mile loop
  • Easy
Tucked in the neighborhoods north of San Diego, Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is a gem in the midst of suburbia. You’ll hike through shaded, streamside forests of live oaks, past a waterfall, and get the chance to spot wildlife like mule deer, blue herons, egrets, raccoons and Pacific tree frogs. The park has a year-round stream, and your dog will enjoy the creekside hiking. The dirt paths are generally flat and mostly easy, and you can customize the length of your loop by taking one of the many connecting trails if you don’t have the time or energy to do the full seven miles. Just be sure to keep your dog on a required eight-foot leash as you both explore this dog-friendly hike in San Diego.

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Runyon Canyon Park Loop

  • Runyon Canyon Park, 2000 N. Fuller Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90046
  • 3.3-mile loop
  • Moderate
Runyon Canyon Park is home to some of the best dog-friendly hiking in Los Angeles. This 130-acre park is located within the city limits and has a 90-acre dog park where your furry friends can enjoy an off-leash romp. As you hike up the hilly terrain, you will enjoy views over the Hollywood Hills and can catch a glimpse of the iconic Hollywood sign. Due to the park’s popularity, parking can be difficult to come by. Be sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your dog as there is not much shade and no water along the trail. You can tackle the full 3.3-mile loop or opt for a shorter, easier outing based on how ambitious you (and your pup) are feeling.

dog-friendly hikes

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Fort Funston Trails

  • Fort Funston, Fort Funston Road, San Francisco, CA 94132
  • 0.88 to 2 miles, depending on the route
  • Easy
If you are looking for dog-friendly hikes in the Bay Area, look no further than Fort Funston. This beautiful park just southwest of San Francisco is the perfect coastal getaway for you and your dog. With beach access and abundant parking, this park is ideal for an oceanside outing. The main trails are paved, but the trails that lead down to the beach are not. From atop the 200-foot sandy bluffs, you can enjoy incredible views of the coast before heading down to dip your feet in the waves. Your hiking buddy can happily roam the beach and the sandy trails of this mostly off-leash area.

dog-friendly hikes

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Cape Falcon Trail

  • Cape Falcon Trailhead at Oswald West State Park, Arch Cape, OR 97102
  • 4.6-mile out-and-back
  • Moderate
Oswald West State Park is best known for Short Sand Beach, or Shorty’s as it’s known locally. Most people head directly to this popular beach, but you can escape some of the crowds by heading out hiking with your dog on the Cape Falcon Trail. This seaside trail has some spectacular views of the coast as it winds through woods of spruce, salal and wild roses. You will need to keep your dog on a six-foot leash on the trail. After you enjoy the views from the lookout, head back to Shorty’s where your pup can burn off any excess energy with an off-leash wander along the beach. While they get their energy out, you can explore the tide pools or simply sit back and watch the waves.

dog-friendly hikes

Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake

  • Ira Spring Trailhead at Mason Lake Road, North Bend, WA 98045
  • 6.5-mile out-and-back
  • Moderate
One of the advantages of living in the Emerald City is your close proximity to the mountains. If you and your dog are looking for a mountain escape with a bit of a challenge, Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake should fit the bill. On a clear day, you can soak in the incredible views of Mt. Rainier from several vantage points. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning wildflowers in bloom, usually from late spring into early summer. Your dog will enjoy a fun scramble followed by a refreshing swim in Mason Lake. You will need to keep your dog on-leash for this hike, and make sure you have a valid recreation pass to park at the trailhead.

Rocky Mountains

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Grays and Torreys

  • Grays and Torreys Trailhead, Stevens Gulch Road, Silver Plume, CO 80476
  • 9-mile out-and-back
  • Very difficult
Hiking a 14,000-foot peak, or a 14er as they are known by Coloradans, is not for every dog (or every hiker). However, if you think you and your dog might be up to the challenge or you want a goal to build toward, the hike up Grays and Torreys is a great two-for-one option located close to the Denver metro area. One of the easier 14er hikes in the state, this 9-mile roundtrip hike takes you up 14,278-foot Grays Peak and across to 14,275-foot Torreys Peak for some out-of-this-world Rocky Mountain views. This hike is challenging due to the elevation, so be sure you and your pup are fit and adequately prepared with all the necessary food, water and safety gear. With the proper preparations for a long day hiking with your dog, you both can enjoy this exhilarating summit-topping achievement.

dog-friendly hikes
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Grandstaff Canyon Trail

  • Grandstaff Trailhead, UT-128, Moab, UT 84532
  • 4-mile out-and-back
  • Easy
If you are looking for a dog-friendly hike in Moab that the whole family can enjoy, pay a visit to the Grandstaff Canyon Trail. This popular trail is located a mere 10 minutes outside of Moab, and has all the outstanding desert scenery you’d expect to find on a more remote hike. The path winds along a creek so you will have some shade (but remember to watch out for poison ivy), and your dog can splash around in the water to cool off on hot days. The path ends at the spectacular Morning Glory Natural Bridge, a 243-foot red rock arch that is the sixth longest natural rock span in the United States. It is a popular path, so be prepared to share the trail and keep your dog on leash.

dog-friendly hikes
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Big Water Trail to Dog Lake

  • Lower Big Water Trailhead at Mill Creek Canyon Road, Salt Lake City, UT 84109
  • 6-mile out-and-back
  • Moderate
The Big Water Trail, located just outside of Salt Lake City, is a wooded climb to a beautiful lake and is one of the more popular dog-friendly hikes in Utah. You will enjoy a scenic, easy-going hike through evergreen and aspen forests while your pup enjoys the cool mountain air. Added bonus: When you reach the aptly named Dog Lake, your dog can go for a swim while you sit on the shore and enjoy the serenity. Note that dogs are not allowed past the lake on watershed property in Big Cottonwood Canyon. On the Big Water Trail, you will need to keep your dog leashed on even numbered days. On odd-numbered days, your dog can enjoy some off-leash exploration—just be aware of deer, moose and other large wildlife, which you may encounter in the area.

Southwest

dog-friendly hikes
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Alkali Flat Trail

  • Alkali Flat Trailhead at White Sands National Park, Tularosa, NM 88352
  • 5-mile out-and-back
  • Difficult
White Sands National Park is known for its glistening white sand dunes. Though your dog must stay by your side on a six-foot leash on the park’s Alkali Flat Trail, you both will enjoy a hike up and down these spectacular dunes. The path across the dunes is marked by red trail markers, and you can turn around at any point. Be sure to bring enough water and only venture out on the dunes during the cool parts of the day. This area has no shade or water, and at midday the sand will get quite hot!

dog-friendly hikes
Courtesy of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department

Walnut Creek Trail

  • Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park, 12138 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78753
  • 2-mile loop
  • Easy
Austin is known for its urban greenways and downtown parks, as well as for being a very dog-friendly city. Walnut Creek Metro Park is an urban park in downtown Austin with many miles of dirt trails for hikers and dogs to explore. Your dog can enjoy an off-leash adventure with access to water, creeks and abundant shade. You’ll enjoy a peaceful creekside saunter while your pup frolics with the other dogs out on the trails. Given the close proximity to downtown and the multitude of trails to choose from, you can easily customize the length of your outing.

Northeast

dog-friendly hikes

Great Head Trail

  • Great Head Trail at Acadia National Park, Schooner Head Road, Bar Harbor, ME 04609
  • 1.9-mile loop
  • Moderate
Acadia National Park is one of the few national parks that allow leashed dogs on trails. With 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads open to your leashed four-legged hiking companion, Acadia is a great destination for dog-friendly hikes in Maine. And for those looking for a taste of the iconic sea cliffs and wooded hillsides of the area, the Great Head Trail is the perfect outing. This rocky path winds along the headlands, passing the ruins of an 18th-century stone tower, before descending to pass Sand Beach. Between May 15 and September 15, your dog is only allowed to cross the beach to reach the trailhead, but if you visit during off-season, you both can enjoy lingering for a while along the waterfront.

dog-friendly hikes
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Gedney Park Trail

  • Gedney Park, 155 Millwood Road, Chappaqua, NY 10514
  • 2-mile loop
  • Easy
If you live in the Big Apple, you and your dog are probably looking for dog-friendly hikes near NYC to escape the concrete jungle. Gedney Park is one great option, located 30 miles north of Manhattan in the Hudson River Valley. The park has three main trails, and your dog can enjoy roaming off-leash (within sight and under voice control) in the shade around the park’s ponds and streams. Note that dogs are not permitted on the baseball fields or playground area. Though it’s not far from the city, this wooded paradise will transport you and your dog worlds away.

Southeast

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Osprey Trail

  • Osprey Trailhead at Honeymoon Island State Park, 1 Causeway Blvd., Dunedin, FL 34698
  • 2.5-mile loop
  • Easy
Located 25 miles northwest of Tampa, Honeymoon Island State Park offers a beautiful combination of white sand beaches and nature trails for a great day out on the Gulf. The Osprey Trail is one of several nature trails at the state park that allow dogs on leash. You and your dog can enjoy this soft-surface, shaded nature trail where you will have the chance to spot some local wildlife, such as the trail’s namesake osprey. Plus, after your hike, you can head to the south end of the island where your dog can enjoy an on-leash frolic in the waves at the Honeymoon Island’s designated dog beach.

dog-friendly hikes
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Vickery Creek Trail

  • Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Vickery Creek Trail Parking, 259 Riverside Road, Roswell, GA 30075
  • 4-mile loop
  • Easy
Vickery Creek Trail's lovely, shaded loop has a little bit of everything. Along the route, your on-leash pup can enjoy exploring the soft dirt paths and dipping their paws in the water as you hike across several small streams and alongside Vickery Creek. And there’s plenty for you to enjoy as well, with a scenic covered wood bridge and a stop by the Roswell Mill waterfall—a historic spillway dam and mill ruins dating back to the Civil War era. If you and your dog are looking for a quick escape on the outskirts of metro Atlanta, the fern-filled woods and tranquil creeks of Vickery Creek should do the trick.

Midwest

dog-friendly hikes
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Mount Baldy Beach Trail

  • Indiana Dunes National Park, 187 Rice Street, Michigan City, IN 46360
  • 1-mile out-and-back
  • Moderate
Located an hour outside of downtown Chicago across the state border in Indiana, the Mount Baldy Beach Trail is a great, short hike with access to Lake Michigan. Dogs are allowed on a six-foot leash on this national park trail which heads down to the lakeshore. You will pass by 126-foot Mount Baldy, a large “living” sand dune (note that hiking on the dune is prohibited). Once you reach the shore, you and your dog can hike along the beach for a scenic stroll. Time your visit to sunrise or sunset for a jaw-dropping bonus view.

dog-friendly hikes
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Lovers Leap Trail

  • Custer State Park, US-16A, Custer, SD 57730
  • 4-mile loop
  • Moderate
The Lovers Leap loop will take you and your dog through the shade of an oak and ponderosa forest up to the Lover’s Leap overlook for outstanding views of the area. Though your dog will have to remain on a 10-foot leash for the hike, you both will enjoy hiking side-by-side through rock formations and up the steep, forested slopes to the lookout. Along the loop, you will cross Galena Creek, where your dog can take a quick dip to cool off before finishing the loop. Be aware that buffalo are common in the area—a good reason to keep your hiking buddy on-leash!

Not every dog can go on every hike, but there is a hike for almost every dog. From mountains and beaches to woodlands and meadows, we hope this list inspires you to find your own dog-friendly hiking trails.

By: Kristen Arendt
Kristen is a writer, editor and lover of the great outdoors. In addition to running, hiking, backpacking, biking and skiing, she enjoys reading and spending time with loved ones, of both the human and animal variety. When she's not playing with words or planning her next adventure, she's daydreaming about living on a horse ranch in New Zealand. She is based in Niwot, Colorado.

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