Everyone knows that physical activity isn’t just beneficial to humans. Our pets require it, too. For the outdoor enthusiast, hiking can be the perfect combination of beautiful terrain and physical endurance for our furry companions. Ideally, you can combine your two loves with a dog-friendly hike.

We’ve sourced a few trails that you’re going to love. They range from easy to challenging dog-friendly hikes. Don’t forget to bring a bowl and clean drinking water for your dog while you’re out hiking. 

Some trails may have water access, like lakes, rivers, or creeks, but they may contain harmful bacteria or microbes that can make your dog sick.

If you’re new to hiking, starting with a low-impact, easy hike may be the easiest way to get into the sport. It’s important always to consider the terrain you’ll be walking and dress accordingly.

Always ensure you have supportive, comfortable footwear for the hike. Even in warm weather, supportive footwear will ensure that your feet are protected from the elements. This is particularly true if you’re adventuring into higher elevations than average (snow, slush, mud, and rock).

Dog-Friendly Hike You Need to Try…

dog-friendly hikes

1. Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail

 This trail is located in New Hampshire, at White Mountain National Forest. The dog-friendly hike is a heavily trafficked loop trail. Primarily used for biking, hiking, and snowshoeing, this is a trek designed for very experienced outdoor enthusiasts. You’ll be sitting at 1,165 m at elevation gain, with three peaks (including the highest mountain outside of Presidential Range). The trail is best used from April through October, as the hut closes during the wintertime. 

Always ensure that you bring plenty of high-protein snacks and water for the hike. Due to the terrain’s unpredictable nature, always wear solid footgear, extra clothes, and waterproof outerwear (especially during the spring).

dog-friendly hikes

2. Mailbox Peak Trail Loop, Dog-Friendly Hike in Washington

Located in Washington, the Mailbox Peak Trail Loop is found within the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Natural Resources Conservation Area. This trail is perfect for experienced trailblazers and adventurous pups, with a 13.7km loop.

It is rated as a difficult trail, with two paths intertwined. The old trail is a very challenging trek, facing sharp inclines all the way through the forest. At approximately 3,000 feet, the trail does become covered with leaves and falling pines but is workable with the proper footwear.

When the new trail meets the old trail, it becomes straightforward, but it doesn’t lessen the intensity of this dog-friendly hike.

You’ll find views of Mount Rainier and Middle Fork Valley below, making it a scenic view throughout the trail. This trail does feature a few areas that are quite open and exposed; make sure you dress accordingly, as the weather can be quite unpredictable.

You’ll want to ensure that you have shoes with decent traction, as the pine needles can become quite slick under certain weather conditions. 

dog-friendly hikes

3. Spruce Creek Trail to Mohawk Lakes Trail

Found within the Arapaho National Forest in Colorado, this 13.2 km trek is a beautiful dog-friendly hike for experienced adventurers. It has a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail with views of pristine lakes.

This trail is best saved for experienced users with a difficult rating. Thanks to the beautiful scenery, you’ll be able to step away from the cabins and find the steep trail up to the waterfalls. 

If you’re looking to find a lakeside view, Lower Mohawk Lake is accessible by foot, approximately 1 mile into your trek. Expect to travel roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout the hike.

Be warned; the trail does disappear after Lake Six, making the entirety of the path quite tricky for inexperienced users. Traveling to Lake 7 will have you sitting at 1500 feet of elevation gain.

dog-friendly hikes

4. Dog-Friendly Hike in Tahoe National Forest, Stevens Trail

Found within Tahoe National Forest, the Stevens Trail is in California. This trail is considered a moderate trail, with a heavily trafficked out and back trail. 

This trek does feature a waterfall and is accessible year-round. It’s predominately used for hiking and nature trips, offering 12.4 km of scenic views. Be warned, this trail provides minimal to no shade, making it a dangerous hike during the summer months.

It’s important to always watch the weather forecast before hiking this trail. This trail does feature a steep climb at the end of the hike, offering views of the river, waterfall, and forest throughout.

Initially built by Truman Allen Stevens, it was used as a toll road for miners. Eventually, people forgot the trail, but in 1969, Boy Scout Eric Kiel re-charted its original roots. Make sure to monitor the ground temperatures if you’re bringing a dog along for the hike.

Sensitive paws can quickly become burned under extreme heat conditions. 

dog-friendly hikes

5. Eagle Rock via the PCT

This 10.0km trail is located in Warner Springs, California. The trail is considered easy, featuring a waterfall and year-round accessibility. The trail is predominately used for camping, nature trips, backpacking, and a lovely dog-friendly hike.

While this trail is considered appropriate for all skill levels, it’s important to remember the heat summer months will bring.

This trail does not have adequate shade, and you should always take caution. Always pack plenty of water and proper shading clothing like a hat and sunscreen.

dog-friendly hikes6. Raven Rocks via Appalachian Trail

This pet-friendly trail is located in Bluemont, Virginia, and offers 7.7 kilometers of heavily trafficked out and back trails. This hike is considered to be a moderate trail, suitable for individuals with experience.

The beautiful river is a major attraction for this hike, mainly as you’ll stay relatively close to the ground throughout the trek.

The final view of this trail is considered to be the main attraction, which is why you’re going to love this dog-friendly hike. Be warned. Locals affectionately call this hike the “roller-coaster” with steep ridges and winding up and down. 

The only downside to this trail is the lack of parking available to those wanting to complete the trek. It does have several steep inclines, which can make it rather tricky for inexperienced hikers, along with some rocky sections.

It’s always best to ensure you’re wearing appropriate footwear to avoid losing footing.

7. Living Room Lookout Trail is Our Favorite Dog-Friendly Hike in Utah

This quick hike is only 3.7 km of heavily trafficked out and back trail. Located in Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area, Utah, you’ll find scenic views throughout the path. Dogs can tag along, making it the perfect activity for high-energy pups and people alike.

There is plenty of street parking available on-site, so you won’t have to venture too far from your vehicle before hitting the trails.

This trail is a moderate path, making it the perfect alternative to some challenging hikes. It is easy to find yourself off the track, thanks to many offshoots, so using an app or map is highly encouraged.

The minimal to no shade does make it a bit difficult throughout the hike, particularly if you don’t plan for the elements.

At the top of the hike, you’ll find rocks arranged as chairs and couches, making a fantastic photo opportunity. 

dog-friendly hikes

8. Horsetail Falls Trail

This heavily trafficked out-and-back trail is located in Desolation Wilderness, near Twin Bridges, California. At 6.4 km, it is rated as a difficult trail to complete. Predominately used for hiking, we recommend following this trail between May and October.

The path starts as moderate, quickly picking up elevation. The last half-mile of the hike can be pretty difficult, with granite rock and boulders. The trail is also poorly marked in some areas, making it best suited to experienced hiking enthusiasts.

Once you reach the falls, you do have the option to continue on this dog-friendly hike. However, the rocks become quite slick and slippery as they’re wet. 

Dog and his owner in a snowy hike

9. Stairway to Heaven Trail

As a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail, the Stairway to Heaven Trail is located in Wawayanda State Park, New Jersey. It boasts beautiful wildflowers and scenic views of Vernon Valley, Kittatinny’s, Catskills, and the Black Dirt region.

This trail is of moderate difficulty.  Some areas have unsteady rock and boulders throughout the climb. You may be required to bushwhack throughout the Appalachian trail, with some difficulties locating the trail as you go down the mountain.

There are a few cascades and a stunning waterfall throughout this trek. There is an unmarked path to follow along the mountain base to the Appalachian Trail, too, making this best suited to those familiar with strenuous hikes. 

dog-friendly hikes

10. El Cajon Mountain Trail

This challenging trail is located in El Capitan County Preserve, near Lakeside, California. It’s predominately used for mountain biking and hiking and is accessible all year round.

This trail has the ability to lure in unsuspecting enthusiasts with a simple array of ascents and descents for the first two miles. There are beautiful views and enjoyable scenery. As you push past the second mile, the hike begins to take on a more challenging pace, with steep descents into drainage.

From there, you’ll face several rugged and rutted pathways. On clear days, seeing the ocean is possible. Make sure you bring plenty of water, snacks, and a solid pair of hiking boots. This trail is best suited to those experienced in shaping individuals as it can substantially toll the body.

It’s important to know that if you’ve parked in the parking lot, the gates are locked at 4:30 pm in the winter. Pay attention to the signage that tells you how long the rest of the hike will take, or face an unexpected evening in your vehicle!

dog-friendly hikes 11. Mount Washington via Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Dog-Friendly Hike

Situated near Gorham, New Hampshire, Mount Washington via Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Trail is 12.7 km of heavily trafficked out and back trail. This trek is only recommended for very experienced adventurers.

This trail has significant elevation gain, as it’s the highest point in New England. This is often referred to as the most dangerous small mountain globally, so hikers take warning.

Ensure you research the conditions before your hike, as conditions can become hazardous and treacherous after bad weather. There are no markings throughout Tuckerman’s Ravine, making it easy to get turned around.

All hikers should contact the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and the Mount Washington Observatory forecast before their trip.

dog-friendly hikes

12. Catawba Falls Trail

Rated as an easy trail, the Catawba Falls trail is located in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina. Catawba Falls Trail is 3.7 km, heavily trafficked out and back trail. You’ll find a beautiful waterfall along the trail, which is perfect for all experience levels.

A quick hike that yields fantastic results; you’ll love the scenery as you hike through. It’s important to remember that many injuries and deaths have been reported at the falls. While it may be tempting, do not climb slick rocks or anywhere near the falls.

Conditions can be pretty unpredictable and slick. 

dog-friendly hikes

13. Sunset Peak Trail

This 11.7km trail is a heavily trafficked out-and-back trail, with beautiful wildflowers as the attraction. It’s located in Angeles National Forest, near Mount Baldy, California. Hikers and mountain bikers predominately use Sunset Peak Trail. The best time to tackle this hike is from May until October.

This hike does have plenty of shade throughout the forest but can be steep at times. You should take caution because the trail can be quite loose when descending. It is a challenging climb down the mountain. We found the trail to be well-defined and simple to follow. 

It’s important to plan for proper footwear, and you may find certain parts slippery from snow. You may encounter snow, slush, and ice throughout the trail, so having ice spikes or crampons may make the climb easier.

Make sure always to check the weather before hiking. There are a few shortcuts throughout the trail that can make your hike much shorter if you choose.

Due to parking limitations, it’s essential to arrive at the parking lot early if you’d like to find a good spot. 

READ NEXT: A Basic Guide to Hiking with Dogs


Dog-Friendly Hike 

Katherine is certified in Domestic Animal Sciences and Animal Grooming with primary focus on dogs. She has had her pet canine, Anastasia, for two years now, who is also her ESA service dog. Katherine has written multiple articles about pets and their grooming, and has knowledge on multiple specialty pet grooming products for dogs.