Happy Trails, Happy Tails: 6 Great Dog Hikes

July 25, 2016
Dog hikes
Michael IngmansonExplore the mountains and streams of the Northeast on these six dog hikes.

Looking to get out with your favorite four-legged friend? These six treks let you romp, roam, walk, and wade through the outdoors together. If you and your dog haven’t hiked before, check out AMC’s guide to hiking with dogs and watch our video about the 10 essentials of hiking with dogs. And before you go, be sure to confirm the dog rules and restrictions, as well as water availability, at your destination.

Mackworth Island | Falmouth, Maine
Across the harbor from Portland’s East End, Mackworth Island is home to osprey, warblers, and snowshoe hare, as well as an oceanside trail for you and your dog. Follow the perimeter of the island along Casco Bay for a 1.5-mile hike along gravel and crushed-stone paths. Several benches provide great views of the water, and three sets of stairs provide access to the shore for further exploration. Although dogs must remain on leash, they’re guests of honor here. The island is the site of the Governor Baxter School for the Deaf and the trail passes Governor Baxter’s pet cemetery, the final resting place for his 14 Irish setters.

Distance: 1.5-mile loop
Info: AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast (AMC Books); Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry

Moat Mountain Trail | Conway, N.H
This crushed-stone path climbs gradually through the forest to a series of popular cascades called Diana’s Baths. The handicapped-accessible path passes a series of benches and an old mill site before reaching Diana’s Baths, where you and your four-legged companion can relax on the rocks and cool yourself in the flowing water. This trail also provides access to the spectacular ridge atop the Moat mountains; however, the trail gets much steeper beyond Diana’s Baths and isn’t recommended for canine hikers. Trailhead parking is located on West Side Road.

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
InfoAMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains, 3rd ed. (AMC Books); White Mountain Guide Online

Trout Brook Reservation | Holden, Mass.
Trout Brook’s 660 acres of conservation land are accessible from three trailheads, with parking areas Manning Street, Mason Road, and Sterling Road. A 4.6-mile lap of the reservation takes you over a series of bridges and past meandering brooks, providing a refreshing escape for your pup. The area is a popular local spot for mountain bikers, so dogs must stay on leash.

Distance: 4.6-mile loop
Info: Town of Holden

Kent Falls State Park | Kent, Conn.
Kent Falls, located just across the Housatonic River from the Appalachian Trail, is home to Connecticut’s highest waterfall. The 250-foot drop flows to the river and is accessible by the steep, quarter-mile Red Path. To avoid the sometimes-heavy hiker traffic on the way to the falls, take the less-traveled and slightly longer Yellow Trail. The park also has a large field, a perfect for posthike picnic spot for you and your dog. Parking is $15 for out-of-staters, $9 for Connecticut residents, and dogs must remain on leash.

Distance: 0.25 miles or 0.82 miles round trip
Info: Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

Hickory Run State Park | White Haven, Pa.
Located at the feet of the Poconos, Hickory Run features more than 40 miles of trail on 15,000 acres—all of which are open to off-leash dogs. While the park is bare of its namesake, the hickory tree, now extinct in the area, you will find the remains of the last ice age. Explore Boulder Field, some 14 acres filled with bowling ball–sized rocks and now a National Natural Landmark. Reach it via a 6.3-mile round-trip hike on the Boulder Field Trail. On hotter days, follow the Hawk Falls Trail for a quick 0.7-mile out-and-back hike to a clear waterfall. Parking for both locations is off Route 534.

Distance: 6.3 miles or 0.7 miles round trip
Info: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation

Catoctin Mountain Park | Thurmont, Md.
Home to Camp David, the presidential retreat, Catoctin offers hikes loved by commanders- and canines-in-chief. Dogs are welcome on all park trails, ranging from peaceful to challenging, but must remain on leash. Follow the Wolf Rock/Chimney Rock Loop for a strenuous 3.3-mile hike with some of the best vistas in the area. Begin at the National Park Headquarters, otherwise known as Camp Peniel, where parking is available. Stop at the Chimney Rock overlook to see the park from 1,419 feet up, but take care, as the trail narrows at points and can be slippery after rain. For an 8-mile hike, continue on to Thurmont Vista, the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook, and Hog Rock then follow the Falls Nature Trail back to the trailhead.

Distance 3.3 miles or 8 miles round trip
Info: Catoctin Mountain Park

Robert N. Buchsbaum, Mike Dickerman, Carey Kish, Mark Rust, Steven D. Smith

UPDATE: The Moat Mountain Trail hike has been edited to reflect an easier route that’s more appropriate for dogs.

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Alexandra Malloy

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