This is a guest post from Rebecca of HikingMastery.com.
Hiking is a wonderful activity for people and dogs alike. And there’s nothing like a short, interesting hike, filled with new excitement to create a stronger bond with your dog. But where can you go? We’ve got some great day hike suggestions for the USA below, so read on.
1. The Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine
This trail is perfect for bringing Fido along because you’ll both enjoy some exquisite scenery, even from your car. The 27-mile long trail starts in the northern part of Maine’s Mount Desert Island, near Hulls Cove and it boasts some pretty amazing landforms, but you don’t have to do it all at once; you can easily park your car and get out for a short walk.
Your dog will love this diversity of smells brought along with each change in terrain, but he will also appreciate the challenge that comes with tackling forests and rocky ground as well as some lake areas. And if you have some cool dog backpacking gear, you can even give him some extra responsibilities and a means of carrying his own things.
This trip is well worth it though, with amazing vantage points, like those at Sand Beach or Otter Cliff, and the best part is that you can even go by car if you don’t feel prepared enough to hike all the way through.
You should also do some obedience training first and make sure that your dog can wear the leash and obey basic commands. That’s because the road gets quite narrow in certain portions, and you’ll have to mind the cars. Besides, there’s a lot of wildlife, which is great in terms of views and smells your dog can relish, but you should make sure he doesn’t try running after the animals.
2. Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, California
This is another friendly trail for dogs who are well versed in leash walking, so you’ll have plenty of views to take pleasure in here too. With grassy stretches and luxuriant vegetation, this 6 miles hike is definitely worth your time. The canyon is breathtaking with all its turns that wax and wane passing creeks and waterfalls, as well as some historic spots.
Take the Adobe Ranch House for instance; Fido will love getting to meet and greet the ranch animals, like the friendly goats and the talkative chicken. After that, you can hike further through forests of oaks and sycamores, each hiding new interesting fragrances for your dog and different vistas for you to admire.
You will also love the wide open fields, where you can have your dog running a bit more freely, even if you’re still using a longer leash. After that, there are plenty of rocky slopes that require some agility to navigate, and we’re sure you’ll welcome the challenge. There are also some creeks you need to pass through, and that’s another fun play for your dog, completely safe too since the water level isn’t particularly high.
3. Mount Burdell, Novato, California
If you love oak trees and grasslands, this trail will offer you a plethora of views, smells and interesting wildlife to admire. Situated in the lush Novato Valley, Mount Burdell has it all from forests to wide open spaces where cattle graze freely. In the forests, your dog will enjoy the occasional appearance of a deer or squirrel, so make sure you keep a firm hold on the leash.
However, there are plenty of dogs here too, walking alongside their humans, so you can benefit from their company. You might also be glad to know that there are some specific areas where you can take the leash off and let your dog breathe in the wild outdoor air, though he still needs to be close enough to hear you. You’ll see both the off-leash as well as the on-leash areas well marked, which is another advantage.
This trail isn’t for complete beginners though, with all its difficult ascents and narrow loops to navigate. The rolling hills and the changing weather along with the lashing wind might prove a challenge even for the most experienced hikers. But there are certainly some awesome vistas, like that from the Middle Burdell Fire Road, where the summit looks like a giant guarding over the whole area.
4. Perkins Central Garden Trail, Garden of the Gods, Colorado
If you’re ever in Colorado Springs and want to take your dog out on a short hike, this trail is the perfect one for beginners. Resembling more a stroll than an arduous hike, you’ll definitely like the most beautiful park in the area that’s also a National Natural Landmark.
If you’re curious to learn more about the things and places you’ll see on your trail, you can pop at the Visitor Center before your walk. You’ll get maps and info about the roads, then set out on your hike, starting off with a heart-throbbing view of the place and the Pikes Peak right there at the Visitor Center.
With a little more than a mile of paved road and very gentle slopes, this park is generally well populated, so your dog should be kept on a leash. You’ll love the red sandstone formations, though, along with the evergreen, juniper bushes, noisy jays and happy magpies.
And if that sounds like it’s too easy for you, you can always leave your dog with someone from your group and try some more exciting activities, like rock climbing. Otherwise, you can just admire impressive landforms like the North Gateway Rock or the Kissing Camels, which provide a great contrast with the crisp blue skies.
The South Gateway Rock knits two colors, which look great alongside the green juniper leaves. And with all their cracks and coves, these ancient rock formations are bound to make you contemplate the enormity of time.
We’ve taken you through a series of exciting trails you can set off on with your four-legged best friend. So where will you go next? Or are you still undecided? What great hikes have you already tried? Tell us all in the comments below!
Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another of her passion is the ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy. She also writes for HikingMastery.com.