How to Find the Best Hiking Trails for Your Dog

woman and dog sitting in in front of a mountain

Hiking Trails that Allow Dogs

Are you ready to get going for your backcountry hiking trails this season? There are countless hiking and paved trails across the US filled with wildflowers, spectacular views, and some of the most interesting scenic environments and national forests. However, if you're a dog-lover, you may not want to leave your pooch behind. Hence, you may be wondering which hiking trails are dog-friendly, so your wonderful fido can accompany you on your hiking adventures.

The following guide will list some of the most attractive and Fido-friendly hiking trails present in the US. You can view them one by one and plan your next hiking trip accordingly.

Why are Some Trails "No Dog"?

When looking at the top trails in the US, you will learn that some of them aren't dog-friendly hikes. This strictly means that if you want to take a trip to any of these regional parks or recreation areas, you won't be allowed to take your pooch with you. If you have a solid bond with your friendly pooch and don't seem to go anywhere without him, especially on an outdoor adventure, you should consider going on dog-friendly hikes.

You should understand that several regional parks and top trails restrict dogs for several reasons. Take a look at some of the main reasons why hikers can't take Fido with them on some of the top trails:

  • The dogs may carry parasites or germs that may not have manifested yet but can spread diseases and various forms of illnesses. This can be seriously harmful to the native wildlife of the hiking trails.
  • Dogs can be a means of transport for ticks, weeds, and parasites, which may ultimately latch onto the native wildlife and grow.
  • The scent of dogs can scare the native wildlife of some regions. This can cause aggressive behavior or behavioral changes in those animals. Also, the presence of dogs, especially aggressive ones, can scare the wildlife away from the place, which endangers them.
  • Dogs can also attract predators such as bears and other bigger animals, which is a grave threat to human lives in the region.
  • Dogs are often aggressive to other dogs and sometimes their owners. These kinds of situations can quickly become threatening for other visitors, including you.

However, keep in mind that while dog-friendly hiking trails allow you to take your pooch with you on your adventures, you should obey rules and guidelines. Hence, preparing in advance might help a lot.

man and dog on hike at sunset

Trail Dog Etiquette PSA

When you're out on a trail, make sure you follow dog etiquette because it will affect you and your four-legged furry family member's adventures. Just as how you train your pooch to behave inside the house and often in front of guests, you should emphasize hiking trail etiquette. To ensure you can take your pooch on future hiking trips, adhere to the tips and professional guidance below.

Follow The Rules

Hiking trails that allow dogs with their owners have certain restrictions and requirements in place for everyone's safety, including your dog's. Always use a trail map when you're on a trail system to make sure you don't get lost at any point during your hike with Fido. This is especially when you're surrounded by the wilderness of a nature preserve.

When on any trail system, you have to keep a leash on your dog not to harm them but rather keep them under control against bikers, dogs, and other hikers near you. If local laws of picnic areas and trail regions don't allow dogs, make sure you don't take your pooch with you. This way, you won't have your Fido detained for safety purposes and shifted to a visitor center where you can pick him up after you've completed your visit.

Respect Other Trail Users

What happens when you're hiking with your dog and suddenly another hiker arrives from around the corner? Well, you don't want your dog to scare someone away, which could possibly result in an injury. Some people are naturally afraid of dogs or other forms of canines. To avoid such situations, you have to train and instill etiquette in your dog to make sure it respects other hikers and dogs on the trail while listening to you at all times.

Your pooch should have the ability to give way to passers nearby and not interact with other dogs if their owners don't prefer it. Also, remember the presence of other dogs nearby can cause your dog to react due to the territorial and owner protection instincts. Make sure you teach your dog to obey techniques before going on the trail.

dog sitting next to hiking gear

Clean Up After

To maintain the pristine nature preserve, make sure you keep poop bags with you and train your dog to inform you when he wants to go. This will help you keep environmental damage to a minimum by ensuring you pack in and pack out your dog's poop.

Keeping a container with plenty of water may help keep those places clean as well.

Train Your Dog

The best time to hike on new hiking trails is during daylight hours because that way, you can easily use the trail map and stick to it while ensuring your pooch listens to you and doesn't run off, causing a frenzy into the wilderness at night. Whether you're in the parking lot or surrounded by other visitors at the picnic areas, train your dog to behave and act kindly at all times.

When you're on the best hiking trails for dogs, it means ensuring your dog is on his best behavior, so you don't have to deal with unpleasant situations or aggressive behavior.

Be Prepared

Keep a first-aid kit on you at all times whether you're resting on your campground or moving around the trail. This is for the safety of you and your pooch. Don't forget to clean up at unpredicted instances and carry plenty of water for yourself and your dog. Moreover, pay a visit to your dog's veterinarian to make sure his conditions or health problems (if any) won't interfere with the strenuous exercise that hiking on trails usually involves.

Knowing the hiking trail beforehand may be a good idea. However, if you're on a trail for the first time, make sure you keep a copy of the map with you at all times to avoid getting lost.

woman and dog sitting by the lake

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails - West

Do you already have some hiking trails with dogs lined up? Well, we hope you still have some room on your itinerary. Some of the best hiking trails for dogs lie on the west coast, covering areas within Alaska, California, Los Angeles, and more. There are several hiking trails that may not be suitable for short-legged or older dogs due to their lengthy nature or difficult terrain. Therefore, make sure your pooch is well-prepared in advance and that you're not forcing any sort of pressure or strenuous muscle exercise on them through long and tricky hiking trails.

Government Peak to Hatchers Chalet Traverse (Fishhook, AK)

If you're looking for a beautiful trail filled with snowy mountain tops and wonderful wildflowers, the Government Peak to Hatchers Chalet Traverse is one of the best dog-friendly hiking trails. The mountain tops and wildflowers are best to visit during peak springtime. When passing along the Hatcher Pass, the ridgeline on which this hiking trail is based, don't lose your path because that will force you to go bushwacking. Among the many miles of trails, this spot is a favorite among hikers.

Cabrillo Tide Pools Trail (San Diego, CA)

If you're a state park lover, you will find the Cabrillo National Monument attractive because the amazing Cabrillo Tide Pools Trail runs right through it. In California, this hiking trail isn't so dog-friendly, so if you wish to go only with your lovely pooch, you should look for another trail. You can only take your dog with you on a small part of the half-mile trail using a leash-on jacket as a local rule.

Runyon Canyon Park (Los Angeles, CA)

Dwelling in Los Angeles, California, the Runyon Canyon Park is a large off-leash dog park. The land extends over 90 acres, which is big enough to let you and your dog explore the wilderness on vacation. There are numerous hiking trails within the region, along with convenient clean-up baggie stations where you can take care of your dog, especially when it wants to go.

woman and dog on a hike

Four Pass Loop (Snowmass Village, CO)

If you're looking for the perfect falls trail for your next vacation trip, the Four Pass Loop, which is actually a 27-mile loop, is a great option. You will see mesmerizing aspens turning gold during the fall season as you move with the elevation gain over the 7000-feet mark with your pooch. Ensure your dog is fit for such a climb and hike with you. Also, don't forget to keep a water bottle with you.

Garden of the Gods (Colorado Springs, CO)

Were you planning a visit to a rocky hiking trail? Well, the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs will offer an amazing stroll around the red rock formations that defy gravity in an unbelievable way. It is among some of the best hiking trails that allow dogs.

Forest Park Wildwood Trail (Portland, OR)

If you're interested in a thirty-mile hike routine, you should check out the Forest Park Wildwood Trail in Portland, Oregon. Most hikers prefer this challenge as it can take nearly two days to complete. While being dog-friendly, it is an on-leash dog trail.

Little Wildhorse and Bells Canyon Loop (Ferron, UT)

When you want to go on a hiking trail but without the unnecessary implications of keeping your friendly pooch on a leash, you can choose the Little Wildhorse and Bells Canyon Loop in Ferron, Utah. It's a safe place for hikers to bring their dogs off-leash. You can use a leash and harness combo to help your Fido through the tricky parts of this maze-like nine-mile hiking trail.

Dimple Dell (Sandy, UT)

Among the various hiking trails for dogs, this one is a big favorite. It's a natural ravine running through East Sandy towards the mountains. While the ravine is hard to traverse, the trails along the ravine are quite simple and easy to handle for both you and your pooch. As a short note, make sure that you keep life vests for your and pooch's safety during summer and springtime. This will help you stay safe against the chilly running water.

dog standing in front of mountain and lake

Seward Park (Seattle, WA)

Do you want to explore miles of hiking trails through an old forest that rests near a waterfront? Then Seward Park is for you. Your dog will certainly want to take a break to relax near the rushing waves of the running waterfront.

Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails - Midwest

The Midwest is home to several dog-friendly hiking trails. Most dog owners who are outdoor enthusiasts will love the extremely resourceful and adventurous state park locations and national forests in the beautiful regions of the Midwest. While you plan and take long easy hikes in the Midwest regions, you will also encounter spectacular views.

Eagle Creek Park (Indianapolis, IN)

This national forest of the State Park in Indianapolis is one of the state's greatest attractions, primarily for its hiking trails. While the trail offers off-leash areas, dogs usually have to be on-leash

Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby, IL)

In 13 miles of trails, you will find spectacular views to enjoy as you go hiking with your furry friend. The Starved Rock State Park offers active waterfalls throughout the spring season and houses activities like boating, fishing, etc.

Lost Bridge Trail (Springfield, IL)

One of the most popular and earliest multi-use hiking trails for locals, the Lost Bridge Trail is an all-time favorite among hikers in the state of Illinois. Parting ways around a tree-lined lake and landscaped natural scenery, this hiking trail is a wonderful and well-maintained spot for dog owners and their hiking activities.

Murphy Hanrehan Park Reserve (Savage, MN)

While the hike region in this natural park reserve is short, you will get plenty of opportunities to have a wonderful time with your pooch. Featuring rare bird species inside the wilderness, this place is also entertaining for dogs.

woman with dog on hike in the mountains

Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Brecksville, OH)

Lying alongside the Cuyahoga River, this trail section covers historic locations and many active waterfalls that make hiking surprisingly captivating. The site runs through a landscaped park that offers amazing views for you and your pooch.

Big Foot Beach state Park (Lake Geneva, WI)

Trailheads that start off with a fun experience tend to end in the most satisfying way. For that, the Big Foot Beach State Park is a perfect example because the site itself is primarily for hiking and offers a band of other activities.

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails - Northeast

Bringing your dog along with you on a dog-friendly hiking trail will offer an amazing experience. You can make the most out of your outdoor activities when you bring along your four-legged friend. In the Northeast regions of the US, there are countless locations with fantastic hiking trails. From open spaces to county parks, you can catch some of the best views in the beautiful counties and cities of the Northeast. You can also try your biking skills across various dog-friendly trail parks.

The Cascades at Lake Mohigan (Fairfield, CT)

To easily cleanup after your dog and making sure you can enjoy open-space hiking trails, you can visit the Cascades at Lake Mohigan in Fairfield, Connecticut. This recreational hiking site offers stations across the region for convenient mile hikes.

Mountain Lakes Open Space Area (Princeton, NJ)

It is one of the most gorgeous open space hiking areas in the US. New Jersey's Mountain Lakes offer easy hikes that last over 1.5 hours. You can also find a cool lake along the footpath of this trail, so Fido can relax his paws.

Walt Whitman Trail (Huntington, NY)

For the best views, you should explore the wilderness of the Walt Whitman Trail in New York. This site allows dogs on hiking trails but not inside the picnic areas.

Bear Mountain Doodletown Circuit (Stony Point, NY)

If you love climbing rugged mountains and overgrown ruins, the Bear Mountain Doodletown Circuit hiking trails might be for you. For you and your pooch, it will be a wonderful experience through the bumpy trailhead that begins a half-mile trail.

woman with dog sitting on rocks

Laurel Highlands Trail (Ohiopyle, PA)

The Laurel Highlands Trail is a perfect example of a forested hike that offers downward hills for the best experience. Do you like extremely long hikes? If so, this hiking trail extends over 70 miles with several exit points for your convenience.

Emerald View Park (Pittsburgh, PA)

This hiking trail is set to expand in the near future and increase by twenty miles. That proves the adventure potential of this dog-friendly hiking trail in the US.

Dog Friendly Hiking Trails - South

Reaching your favorite loop trail or having a new favorite among the great trails in the Southern region of the US can be extremely exciting. According to some of the most expert hikers in the US, South US covers miles of hiking trails that offer adventurous opportunities to dog owners as well. Take a look at some of the best trails and locations in the South and plan your next hiking trip accordingly.

Slide Rock State Park (Sedona, AR)

Although dogs will need some timeto adjust according to the slippery rock sliders in Slide Rock State Park, you will have an amazing time hiking through the site. It's easy, fun, and enjoyable. This hiking region welcomes only leashed dogs so make sure that you train your pooch accordingly.

Stone Mountain Loop Trail (Atlanta, GA)

You can see Stone Mountain from different spots through this hiking trail. You can request a trail map to learn the trail system better and take your lovely pooch with you to the lovely streams, covered bridge sites, and lakeshores.

Cromwell Valley Park (Baltimore, MD)

Providing a natural wildlife habitat of over 380 acres, this hiking trail site is one of the most loved ones in the US. Since it's a national state park, there are restrictions such as keeping your dog on a leash.

 dog and man walking through leaves

Baltimore Estate (Asheville, NC)

For those of you looking to go on a leisurely stroll with your furry pooch, the Baltimore Estate Gardens in Asheville, NC, are a perfect spot. The restaurants and several eateries in the area also welcome dogs.

Gatlinburg Trail (Gatlinburg, TN)

Throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the State of Tenessee, you can take your dog to enjoy an amazing 1.9-mile hike. Of course, you should remember to keep him on a leash. Thousands of visitors come to the place and enjoy the wonderful trails with breathtaking views.

Walnut Creek Park (Austin, TX)

Walnut Creek Park in the State of Texas is an extremely mesmerizing site to go on long, relaxed hikes. It also offers travelers the opportunity to carry on biking throughout the biking trails. But if you're bringing your dog along, remember to keep him leashed. In case you're looking to let your dog off the leash for a while, several areas of the park allow off-leash dogs.

Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop (Stanley, VA)

Are you a waterfall lover? If so, you're reading about the right place. The Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop in the State of Virginia offers one waterfall after another. The hiking site is so enticing it's sure to captivate visitors and their pet pups.


Now that you are aware of the best hiking trails in the US covering the South, Northeast, West, and Midwest regions, you can plan the best hiking trip of your life. You can take note of the local laws and research on leash and off-leash dog parks. Being a dog-lover, you may not want to go on hikes that don't allow your pooch in. That's why you should keep a formal list of all the possible trails, parks, and other locations that let you hike with ease while bringing your furry friend along.

Back to Blog