Five Dog-Friendly Outdoor Places

Want to take your dog onto the trails with you, but chaf­ing under the restric­tions in place at many Nation­al Parks? No worries—we’ve got you covered.

Katy Trail State Park, MO
Affec­tion­ate­ly known to locals as sim­ply “The Katy,” this state park stretch­es 240 miles along the for­mer Mis­souri-Kansas-Texas (or MKT) rail­road cor­ri­dor. Its pri­ma­ry fea­ture? 237.7 miles of rail trail run­ning from Clin­ton to Machens. With 26 dif­fer­ent trail­heads and four ful­ly restored rail­way depots along the route, you and your leashed pup will have plen­ty of oppor­tu­ni­ties to stretch your legs and soak in the sights of the Mis­souri Riv­er and its bluffs. Com­bine an easy day hike from the St. Charles trail­head with a pic­nic at scenic river­side Fron­tier Park, or pad around the his­toric dis­trict and learn about the state’s orig­i­nal capital.

Olympic Nation­al For­est, WA
The Olympic Nation­al Park might have rules for would-be Bark Rangers, but the nation­al for­est has far few­er restric­tions: dogs are wel­come through­out the for­est, includ­ing all trails, wilder­ness areas, and camp­sites, as long as they are under your con­trol. Take your blood­hound sniff­ing for vam­pires in the Forks region and camp along the Sol Duc Riv­er, or head into the Buck­horn Wilder­ness toward the Sil­ver Lakes along the Mt. Townsend Trail for a mod­er­ate­ly tough trail through conifer for­est and rugged moun­tain topog­ra­phy. With over 250 miles of trail and more than 88,000 acres of wilder­ness through the wilds of the gor­geous Pacif­ic North­west, noth­ing but hap­py tails await!

Chugach Nation­al For­est, AK
5.4 mil­lion acres of nat­ur­al won­der­land encom­pass­ing por­tions of Prince William Sound, the Kenai Penin­su­la, and the Cop­per Riv­er Delta—and all of it open to you and your leashed dogs, no per­mits or trails required. If the thought of just head­ing off into the wild blue yon­der of griz­zly coun­try seems unrea­son­ably risky, there are plen­ty of devel­oped trails you can explore. Try the Byron Glac­i­er Trail near the Begich-Bog­gs Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Portage Val­ley for an easy day hike along­side a rush­ing creek right up to the toe of a moun­tain­side glac­i­er, or give your dog the chance to walk in the paw­prints of super­stars along sec­tions of the Idi­tar­od Nation­al His­toric Trail like the chal­leng­ing Crow Pass—which, at 21 miles point-to-point, is often rec­om­mend­ed as a multiday.

Ange­les Nation­al For­est, San Gabriel Moun­tains Nation­al Mon­u­ment, CA
557 miles of hik­ing trails, includ­ing 176 miles of the mighty famous Pacif­ic Crest Trail, right in Los Ange­lenos’ back­yard? Sign us up! You might not be able to com­plete a pure thru-hike of the PCT with your pooch, but if you want to be able to say that you’ve done some miles with man’s best friend, here’s your chance. Dis­persed camp­ing is avail­able through­out the for­est, too, so stuff that back­pack (and con­sid­er one for your canine companion—unless you’d rather pack out their poo in your bag!) before you hit the road to extend your trip. Just remem­ber that every­one with four feet needs to remain on a leash no greater than six feet long and you’re good to explore!

The Appalachi­an Trail
If you just so hap­pen to have your heart set on a nice, long thru-hike, the Appalachi­an Trail is the way to go. With only three regions into which your pup can’t fol­low you (that’d be Great Smoky Moun­tains Nation­al Park, the Trail­side Muse­um and Wildlife Cen­ter in Bear Moun­tain State Park and Bax­ter State Park), that still leaves about 2,000 glo­ri­ous miles of wag-wor­thy trail for you to enjoy togeth­er. And you don’t have to do it all at once! If you’d rather spend a day strolling, try mod­er­ate­ly rat­ed Black­rock trail just out­side of Har­rison­burg, VA for an easy two-mil­er, or Mount Grey­lock State Reservation’s trail The Cob­bles for just over two miles of out-and-back wild­flower view­ing near Cheshire, MA.