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Chewy EditorialPet Parenting / Travel

Where to Go Leaf Peeping With Your Dog This Fall

It’s fall, y’all! The start of autumn brings crispness in the air, more cranberries, apples and squash on offer at the markets, the return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte—and, of course, depending on where you live, the kaleidoscope of colors on the changing fall leaves. That means now’s the perfect time to plan a leaf peeping adventure with your pup by your side.

What is leaf peeping, anyway? Well, it’s exactly as it sounds: It’s traveling (near or far) with the purpose of viewing the changing fall foliage. And your dog—you know, the one who loves long walks, exploring new places and discovering new smells—just might be the perfect partner for your stroll through the trees. So, if you’re looking to get out of the house (finally!) for a safe, outdoor activity with your pup, read on. We’ve rounded up the best leaf peeping destinations across the country, based on dog-friendliness, nearby activities and amenities, and of course, leaf peeping potential.


Mid-Atlantic

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New York: Walkway Over the Hudson

At more than 1.25 miles long, the Walkway Over the Hudson is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge that sweeps over the Hudson River, connecting the towns of Highland and Poughkeepsie in New York’s Hudson Valley. Grab a complimentary pet waste bag available at either side of the bridge before taking in panoramic leaf peeping views of the Hudson Highlands to the south and the Catskill Mountains to the north. Take a rest on a bench at the end of the path, and you’ll find dog-friendly restaurants within walking distance no matter whether you end your walk in Highland or Poughkeepsie.

New England

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Maine: Camden Hills State Park

Hundreds of leaf peepers drive or hike up Mt. Battie Auto Road within Camden Hills State Park every year for some incredible hillside views filled with fall colors as far as the eye can see. From this vantage point you can take in the town of Camden, Penobscot Bay, and even the surrounding islands. On the clearest days, visitors may even catch a glimpse of Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park (another dog-friendly hiking destination) some 42-ish miles away. Dogs must be leashed at all times on the trails in Camden Hills State Park, which vary in difficulty, so make sure to plan ahead knowing your pup’s comfortability and capability. Consider packing a picnic lunch for both you and your dog to refuel in the picnic area following your leaf-peeping adventure.

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Massachusetts: Mount Greylock State Reservation

For Berkshires leaf peeping at its finest, head to the top of Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the state. (Unless you’re up for a serious hiking challenge, you’ll want to drive to the summit.) From there, head along one of the Berkshires’ many dog-friendly trails. You’ll be able to take in the breathtaking views of Vermont’s Green Mountains and even the Taconic Mountain Range that spreads across New York state and New England.

If you’re staying overnight, book a room at The Old Inn on the Green, which has pet-friendly accommodations and offers treats for sale at the front desk as well as an outdoor play area. Round out your trip with a visit to Hilltop Orchards to wander the grounds with your pup while picking your own apples and sampling wine from Furnace Brook Winery.


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New Hampshire: Miller State Park

Located in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire, Miller State Park offers many pet-friendly hikes with some of the best leaf peeping in the state. (Drivers can also take a paved road to the summit on fall weekends.) If you climb Pack Monadnock Mountain on a clear day, you might even be able to see the city of Boston; Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern U.S.; and into the hills of Vermont. Along the way, encourage your dog to be on their best behavior—the park rangers have been known to offer up treats to passing pups.

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Vermont: Stowe Recreation Path

The roughly 11-mile out-and-back Stowe Recreation Path starts in historic downtown Stowe with shopping, dining and scenic mountain views, then winds into the woods from there. The path is paved, more of a relaxing stroll than a rigorous hike. Dogs must be leashed on the recreation path, but the adjacent Stowe Quiet Path is a grassy area where dogs are free to interact off-leash.

If you’re from out of state, Vermont is a great weekend getaway destination. Fairbanks Inn in St. Johnsbury is one of many canine-friendly options for lodging. While you’re there, visit Dog Mountain, a public park and gallery with art by Stephen Huneck, who often features dogs in his work. You can the park with your pet, enjoy the mountain views, and visit Dog Chapel, a structure honoring dogs and the roles they play in our lives.


Western States

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Visit Golden

Colorado: Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Several trails at Golden Gate Canyon State Park lead to Frazer Meadows—known for its golden-yellow panoramas during autumn leaf peeping season—so you’ll have your pick of options depending on the level of challenge you and your pup are looking for. For example, Mule Deer Trail is less trafficked and about 7 miles roundtrip, but Horseshoe Trail will get you to the meadows in less than 2 miles. After you hike, toast to your adventures on the patio at Mountain Toad Brewing, which welcomes dogs, for a pint of local craft beer for you and a well-deserved treat for your dog.

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Sheridan Travel & Tourism

Wyoming: Tongue River Canyon

The Bighorn Mountains are blanketed in trees displaying fall colors, though the views are exceptionally colorful in Tongue River Canyon, situated roughly 30 miles from downtown Sheridan, Wyoming. When you’ve had your fill of taking Insta-worthy pics, head back to town to refuel at one of Sheridan’s many dog-friendly restaurants. In fact, in 2019 Sheridan was ranked among the top 100 places to visit with your dog by Reviews.com, thanks to the town’s many dog-friendly parks, trails, food stops and lodging among other amenities.

Leaf Peeping Precautions for Your Pup

Before you hit the road, there are a few precautions you’ll want to take to make sure both you and your dog stay safe. Take this advice from Maria Christina Schultz, author, dog trainer, and dog-mom to three adventurous Australian Shepherds:

  • Buckle up your dog. Make sure your dog is properly secured in the car. No matter if you’re going around the block or across the country, your dog should never be free to roam in the car. Not only does a loose pup make for distracted driving, but if you are in a collision, your dog could become a projectile or sprint away in fear if a window is broken or a door swings open. Opt for a dog safety belt or harness to keep all your car passengers secure.
  • Bring treats and water. Treats will make sure car rides and hikes are a positive experience and that good behavior is rewarded. Schultz recommends bringing water from home since water from different sources can upset a dog’s stomach. A portable water bowl can make it easier for your dog to get hydrated.
  • Have a back-up plan. Some common questions to ask yourself before heading out: If your dog got injured, what would you do? How would you get your dog out? How long will you be walking? Are you going with someone? Can your dog fit in your backpack? Who would you call if you needed help? These answers will help you build an exit strategy in the case of an emergency.
  • Do your research. Make sure to consult the latest COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding travel restrictions and safety measures in the location where you’ll be leaf peeping. You’ll also want to check the weather and the difficulty and length of the hike or path. If your dog is not conditioned for a 3-mile hike, increase their stamina with several shorter outings first.
  • Avoid standing water. Never let your pup drink from a puddle, as they can be filled with bacteria from other wildlife that can cause infections such as leptospirosis.
  • Protect your dog’s paws. Even the most seasoned adventurer pups can experience raw skin, scrapes, burns and cuts on their paw pads from various surfaces they encounter while outside, but this is especially true if your dog’s paw pads are not conditioned to trails. A pair of dog boots can save your pup’s paws from the elements.
  • Leash your dog. This not only helps avoid encounters with wildlife—“your dog is going to see a snake moving in the grass long before you do,” says Schultz, so you want to keep them close—but also other dogs and people you may encounter on the trail. Plus, it may be required, depending on where you go.

Get more recommendations on what to bring on a hike with your dog.

With a little preparation you and your dog can be out enjoying the wonders of leaf peeping this fall. Who knows? It just might become your new family tradition.

By: Alyssa Sparacino

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