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4 Favorite Pet-friendly USA Hikes


Nothing cleanses the soul more than a day of hiking in an ancient forest with only yourself and your best four-legged friend as company. I don’t know about you, but as I’ve matured, I’ve gained a stronger appreciation for the simple things in life. While we probably hiked when we were younger, we may not have noticed the rich hues of wildflowers or the tenacity of a wild mushroom growing under the cover of a 200-year-old pine tree… 

But before you head into the wilds with your dog, it’s important to choose your trail carefully, carry a GPS tracker, know your pets (and your own) limitations, and let others know exactly where you’re going and when you plan to return.

Hiking with dogs requires only slightly more planning. Rules and regulations vary according to trail-head and park areas, so be sure to contact your local forest service before taking your pets along. Start slowly and work into more intense trail heads or you may find yourself carrying an exhausted dog out in your backpack.

There’s a hike for whatever part of the country you’re in and whatever skill level you’re working around, but these are a few of our favorite day hikes around the country.

[note style=”5″ type=”warning” icon=”yes”]Your dog should never carry a pack that is more than 20% of his weight, but tasking your pet with a job is great way to tire them a little faster.[/note] [heading style=”modern-1-light” color=”#006666″ style_color=”#006666″ align=”left”]Southwest: First Water Trail near Apache Junction, Arizona[/heading]

Only thirty minutes from Phoenix lies a mountain rife with legends and maybe even gold. We start off with my hometown because it’s an area I know and love. You may think it’s too hot to hike in the desert, but think again – Arizona has some of the most hauntingly beautiful country in the world and October is a perfect time to go out and see it all. The wildflowers and cacti are just beginning to think about flowering and the wildlife you don’t want are heading into hibernation. 

A word of warning – the Superstitions may appear simple to navigate. It is not. There are thousands of slot canyons and dangerous cliffs. You can get turned around so fast it will make your head spin. It’s very important that you stay on the well-marked trails.

It’s a good idea to get your dog snake-trained, but it’s not necessary. Just stay alert and keep your dog on a leash at all times – there are simply too many things that can hurt your pets.

[box style=”soft” title=”Trail Tip:” box_color=”#006666″ radius=”9″]Most trail hikes within national forests require a park pass. You can pick yours up at any outdoor shop, the ranger station or by leaving payment in box at the site.[/box]

We strongly recommend a set of hiking boots (like these Summit Trex from Ruffwear). If your dog hates wearing boots, you’ll find that your dogs won’t mind wearing these Woodrow Wear Power Paws Advanced. The ground out here can be incredibly punishing to paws that aren’t accustomed to it (shale cuts up the paw while sand rubs them raw). It’s also going to be hot during the day no matter what time of year you’re out there, so be very conscious of your pet’s feet and check them frequently.

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