Jul 9, 2012 by DailyPuppyCharm
Hiking with Your Dog encourages both the dog and owner(s), perhaps even a friend or two to get out and take a hike! But before you run off to the nearest trail (where dogs are allowed) please follow these safety precautions because there is nothing better than a well-behaved dog and prepared owner on the trail.
1) Your dog should be trained to walk well and quietly on a leash.
2) You should be able to control your dog if any circumstances arise.
3) Pick-up after your dog’s poop and dispose of it properly.
4) Bring water for both you and your dog.
5) Plan ahead! Do your research or ask park officials if pets are allowed, if it’s an on-leash or off-leash trail and if trail conditions are suitable.
Allen Riedel and his canine trail companions, Chewbacca and Socrates, have hiked thousands of miles together in southern California to select the best dog-friendly, dog-fun, and dog-safe hikes in the region. More than two-thirds of the hikes are on lesser-known trails where travel is light and where you're unlikely to meet horses, bicycles, or motorized vehicles. On nearly half of the trails, off-leash hiking is permitted. The hikes avoid steep, rocky terrain and many offer lakes or streams as a reward. Paw comfort rating (whether you'll be walking on sand, dirt, or pavement) is clearly noted in the information block at the beginning of each hike description; potential dog hazards such as ticks or poison oak are described in the text. A Trail Finder chart in the front of the book indicates trail length, which hikes include water, swimming, or shade, which are "good for senior dogs" or "best for fit dogs".
Refugio State Beach to El Capitan State Beach Trail (Golea, CA) The first thing you’ll see upon entering the parking lot is a big sign with a dog, a circle, and a slash. This means no dogs allowed on the beach. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many beaches in Southern California where dogs are allowed on the beach. It is a shame, because this is a large enough coastline that it seems there could be some type of accommodation made for dog lovers, but alas, such is not the case. However, just because dogs are not allowed to wander on the beach does not mean that this is a trip taken in vain. In fact, there is a wonderful paved pathway between El Capitan and Refugio that covers the 2.5-mile distance between the beaches where dogs are allowed. The biking, walking, and jogging path travels atop the bluffs providing captivating views of the Pacific Ocean and the Channel Islands from a vantage point that is second to none. Of course, the dogs have to remain on a leash, but the easy walk is worth it, if only for the ocean overlooks.
Coal Oil Point Trail (Goleta, CA) The area north of Coal Oil Point through Sands Beach has been designated as critical habitat for the tiny Snowy Plover since 1999, and the dunes are now off-limits as the bird is listed under the Endangered Species Act. The beloved bird is making a comeback due to the efforts of the UCSB environmental studies department, and it is best to keep dogs entirely out of the area. An unleashed dog on this part of the beach can result in a hefty fine. Stick to the bluffs and Campus Beach to be safe; evidently the birds do not roost on the south- facing beach.
Sheep Mountain Trail (Idyllwild, CA)This is a harsh desert trail. The elevation gain and distance are misleading; you and your pets will feel as if you have doubled both mileage and altitude when you return home. Much of the trail is rocky and can be disastrous for your pets unless they are used to hiking 2 to 4 times a week for at least a few hours at a time. There are spiny succulents, yuccas, chollas, and other evil plant life that also conspire against you and your pet. The trail has more ups and downs than a roller coaster and at least part of the way is slogging through semi-soft sand, and another part is off-trail bushwhacking up the side of a sun-scorched desert mountain. If that isn’t enough, the return trail seems longer than the trail in, and no matter how paradoxical it seems, this trail is uphill both ways. With that out of the way, why in the world would anyone want to hike this trail? The answers are quite simple. The stark nature of the Santa Rosa Desert is pure beauty in all of its forms.
Cedar Creek Falls Trail (Julian, CA) If your dogs like the water, they will love this area. While this is not a hidden hike, it certainly is a gem of San Diego County, even though at times it seems like everyone in San Diego is at the main swimming hole. The water here flows year-round, despite its low elevation, and while the best time of year to visit is during the spring, autumn can be quite lovely as well, often with thinner crowds. The base of the falls sits close to 1000 feet above sea level, and the temperatures here can sizzle, especially in the mid-day summer sun. It’s not a good idea to take a mid-day hike here when it is hot, but if you are beneath the falls during the hottest time of day, you’ll know exactly why this place is a treasure. The falls drop over 90 feet into the pool at the bottom, and in high rain years the cascade resembles a more northern locale rather than arid San Diego County.
Mishe Mokwa to Mount Allen (Sandstone Peak) Trail (Malibu, CA) Dogs are allowed in a few areas of the Santa Monica Mountains, and the Circle X Ranch area is one of the largest. There is ample running room for dogs as long as they are leashed. Astoundingly, the area is managed by the National Park Service (NPS); it is almost unheard of for dogs to be allowed on trails operated by the NPS. Mishe Mokwa follows an unbelievable slice of the raised inland plateau section of this coastal park.
View our previews posts:
Hiking with Your Dog in Colorado
Hiking with Your Dog in Georgia & South Carolina
Hiking with Your Dog in Las Vegas & Beyond
Hiking with Your Dog in Montana
Hiking with Your Dog in New Hampshire & Vermont
Hiking with Your Dog in New York City & Beyond
Hiking with Your Dog in North Carolina
Hiking with Your Dog in Oregon