For most places in the country, tourist season is over. The crowds are gone, and the weather is cooler. Beach season has cooled off, and ski season hasn’t heated up yet. That means only one thing: It’s time to hit the hiking trails – with your dog, natch.
We’ve rounded up seven dog-friendly hiking trails across the country, from California to Maine. Let us know your favorites.
California. Pacific Crest Trail to Eagle Rock. Get a taste of the Pacific Crest Trail on this scenic and easy to moderate hike featuring wildflowers, the occasional coyote and, of course, the Eagle Rock formation. While there are trees and a stream at the beginning, the remainder of the trail is less sheltered, so it’s best done late fall through spring. “It is awesome,” says Dawn Celapino of Leash Your Fitness, who does all things outdoors with her dog, Jack. The trailhead is at Agua Caliente Creek bridge near the town of Warner Springs.
Washington. Spruce Railroad Trail at Olympic National Park is one of the few national park trails open to leashed dogs. The 8-mile round-trip hike, near Port Angeles, is on gently rolling terrain with views of Lake Crescent. Suitable for year-round hiking.
Colorado. Travois Trail in Jefferson County’s Centennial Cone Open Space Park is a little more than 13 miles, but it’s not necessary to do the full loop. A 90-minute out and back hike is what Roxanne Hawn likes to do with her border collies Clover and Tori. “It’s a single-track trail most of the way with some good climbs, but they aren’t too steep or too long,” Hawn says. “You definitely want to keep your dog on leash because there is wildlife in the area.” She’s seen deer, elk, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats. Parts of the trail are closed in fall for hunting season and from January through May for elk calving season.
Arkansas. Dorothy Guertin and her 10-year-old goldendoodle, Elvis, live in quirky Eureka Springs, Ark., in the ruggedly beautiful Ozark Mountains. When they go hiking, their favorite spot is 1,600-acre Lake Leatherwood City Park, an area that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. “There are scenic limestone bluffs, a rock quarry, lake views and an abundance of wildlife,” Guertin says. “There is nothing better on a beautiful day than a hike around the lake.”
Georgia. Have you ever thought it would be cool to hike the Appalachian Trail, but know you’d never have the time? You don’t have to do all of it, and you can bring your dog on most sections of the trail. In Georgia, check out 5.7-mile Appalachian Trail, Jarrard Trail and Slaughter Creek loop, which begins and ends at Lake Winfield Scott.
Maryland. For nearly 100 years, the C&O Canal through the Potomac River Valley was an important transportation route for coal and other goods. Now it’s the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park, with a nearly 185-mile towpath from Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, Md. The gentle and mostly level trail is dog-friendly and offers stunning scenery and abundant wildlife. Try the 3.2-mile Gold Mine Loop that begins at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. Dogs are not allowed on section A of Billy Goat Trail or on the overlook trail to Great Falls.
Maine. Acadia National Park encompasses 74 square miles of Mount Desert Island, and it’s very likely the most dog-friendly national park. Dogs and their people have access to 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of crushed-rock carriage roads. Schooner Head Path offers ocean, forest and mountain views at Schooner Head Overlook. The easy one-way trail runs 5.4 miles to Bar Harbor.
How to stop dog from chasing cat
Q: I have a 6-year-old Maltese. My grown daughter moved back home nearly two years ago, bringing her 1-year-old cat with her. All was well for a few months. Then the dog started chasing the cat and scaring her. Now the cat stays in her bedroom and cautiously sneaks out only when the dog isn’t around. Nothing deters my dog from this bullying behavior. What can be done so the cat can enjoy her home and interact with us?
A: If only we could tell cats that if they would stand their ground and hiss, the average dog would turn tail and run. But since we don’t have a good way to deliver that message, the best thing you can do is to reintroduce them.
Put up that baby gate again, and isolate the cat for a few days. Then let the cat explore the house while the dog is either outdoors, in a crate or restrained by a leash. When you bring them together, keep the dog on leash so you can prevent any lunges toward the cat. As long as they are both calm, give them lots of delicious treats -- something they don’t get every day, like deli turkey or turkey hotdogs -- so they associate each other with good things.
Repeat this frequently, and don’t give your dog the opportunity to chase. Keep a long line on him so you can grab it if he starts to go after the cat.
Consider working with a trainer on your dog’s recall (”Come”) so you can put a stop to any chases. Coming to you should be much more rewarding than chasing the cat.
Finally, be sure your cat has some escape routes, such as a tall cat tree or a piece of furniture where the dog can’t go.
Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and Kim Campbell Thornton, author of many pet-care books. The two are affiliated with Vetstreet.com.