Top Ten Hikes with Dogs - Page 3

Gorp.com
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The Oregon coast is a doggie dreamland.
The Oregon coast is a doggie dreamland.  (Brian/Flickr)

5. Mill Creek Canyon Trail, Moab, Utah
Distance: 3 miles round-trip
Leash laws: Voice and sight command; leashes recommended

Moab may be the center of the universe for mountain bikers, but it's also a very attractive place for dogs. If you're visiting Arches or Canyonlands national parks, you already have whetted your appetite for the gaper views of sandstone spires, delicately balanced arches, and desert panoramas right out of a Louis L'Amour novel. And although dogs are banned from the trails in both national parks, the good news is that there are hundreds of dog-friendly hikes on equally beautiful non-park land. A local favorite is Mill Creek Canyon Trail, a maze-like route that winds gently up a dramatic sandstone canyon, with plenty of stream crossings. The payoff is a set of tumbling waterfalls and oasis-like swimming holes. There are no leash laws on the trail, but voice and sight control is important since poison sumac lurks in the underbrush. Moab is 32 miles south of I-70 on Highway 191, and the trail is less than two miles from downtown. To reach the Mill Creek Canyon trailhead, head east from Moab on Center Street, turn right on 400 East, and then take a left on Mill Creek Drive. Make sure to go right when Mill Creek Drive turns right and Sand Flats Road goes straight. Then turn left on Powerhouse Lane and proceed until it ends at a dirt pullout and parking area.

4. Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Distance: 10 miles for complete trail
Leash laws: Leash required

A statue of an Irish wolfhound sits atop the memorial for the Irish Brigade in Gettysburg National Military Park. The 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry marched into the field with their mascot, Sallie, a brindle Staffordshire bull terrier. Separated from her unit, Sallie returned to the Union battle line at Oak Ridge to stand guard over the dead and wounded. And dogs still have a place at Gettysburg. As long as they're on-leash, they're welcome to accompany you anywhere in the park, except the buildings. For a soldier's- (and dog's-) eye view of the theater, hike the Billy Yank Trail, a ten-mile trek through the pastoral fields where, in July 1863, an estimated 170,000 soldiers massed for what become the biggest (and bloodiest) confrontation ever recorded in the Western hemisphere. From Cemetery Ridge, walk three miles through cannon-flanked fields before arriving at the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield, sites seized by Confederates on the second day of fighting. The trail then leads into the woods and emerges in the granite boulder field that makes up Devil's Den, where snipers shot so many soldiers that the nearby creek ran red with blood. Traversing Seminary Ridge, you'll pass monuments to Mississippi, Florida, and Virginia troops. From the Virginia memorial, follow the footsteps of Pickett's Charge—the last Confederate offensive—back to Cemetery Ridge, where the Union prevailed, sending General Robert E. Lee and the rebel army back to Virginia. From Gettysburg, head one mile south on Baltimore Street to the park entrance.

3. Turtle Rock Trail, Vedauwoo Recreation Area, Wyoming
Distance: 4 miles round-trip
Leash laws: Voice and sight control or on-leash

With its magnificent granite monoliths strewn and stacked across this remote section of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, Vedauwoo Recreation Area has been a coveted destination for hardcore rock climbers for years. But you don't need to climb to enjoy the arresting landscape and labyrinth of rock and trail. In southeastern Wyoming, just 12 miles east of Laramie, sits one of the best dog hikes around. Vedauwoo Recreation Area is one of the least-visited and most geographically interesting recreation areas in the country. The easy four-mile loop passes through marshy wetlands with small pools (there's even a little waterfall), shady aspen groves, and catacombs created by hundreds of granite boulders scattered across the landscape like carelessly tumbled children's blocks. Dogs should be on-leash at the trailhead, but once you've advance onto the trail, those who respond to voice commands can run free. The day-use fee is $5. From I-80, take exit 329 about 1.2 miles east to the parking lot. The trail can be accessed from either the east or west parking areas.

2. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon
Distance: 4 miles round-trip
Leash laws: Voice and sight control or on-leash

The entire Oregon coastline is public land. And other than the sections made impassable by rocky cliffs and lush green headlands, you can walk all 400 miles of it. Most of the 362 miles of the "official" Oregon Coast Trail are open to dogs, though there are occasional closures for habitat restoration and endangered species protection. In areas under Oregon Parks and Recreation jurisdiction and areas designated for wildlife protection (e.g., the western snowy plover), dogs should be leashed. Otherwise, state law requires that an animal be under "physical control." That means that if your pooch stays within sight and faithfully obeys voice commands, no leash is required. One beach that dog owners won't want to miss is in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, with its 40 miles of sandy shoreline. These are the biggest dunes in the United States, with some as tall as 500 feet and reaching 2.5 miles inland at their widest point. A number of trails lead through open dunes and across wild beaches. The Tahkenitch Trail stretches two miles, from the Tahkenitch Campground and across the wind-swept landscape, before dropping gently down to a secluded beach. You'll walk through a mile of conifer forest and then emerge onto the sweeping dunes and endless panorama of the Pacific Ocean. While much beach activity is affected each summer due to western snowy plover nesting, this trail remains open and dog-friendly. The trailhead is eight miles north of Reedsport at milepost 204 on Highway 101.

1. Mesa Trail, Chautauqua Park, Boulder, Colorado
Distance: 6.9 miles one way
Leash laws: Voice and sight control or on-leash

Boulder is one of the most pro-dog cities in the country and one of the few places with a Voice and Sight Dog Tag Program. For a small fee, you get a tag that allows you to walk your dog off-leash in most of the Boulder Mountain Parks. From the Chautauqua parking lot, head up Bluebell Service Road for the start of a half-dozen scenic one-way and loop trails. The prize is the Mesa Trail, a hilly path that traverses under the iconic Flatirons—five imposing slabs of tilted sandstone that rise out of the foothills above Boulder. Chances are you'll see wildlife, from deer and chipmunks to the rare glimpse of a cougar or bear. The area is popular for rock climbers and birders, with a well-deserved reputation for spring wildflowers. There are shorter loop options, but hiking the Mesa Trail with your dog is an adventure worthy of shuttling cars or arranging a pickup. Chautauqua Park is at the apex of Baseline and Grant streets, just uphill from the University of Colorado campus. For the one-way trip, leave a car at the South Mesa trailhead, just before the entrance to Eldorado Canyon State Park.

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