Bucket List Dog Friendly Hikes for 2019

By Kayla Fratt  •   5 minute read

Bucket List Dog Friendly Hikes for 2019

One of my favorite things about January is looking forward to planning my adventures with for the coming year. I always try to get outside and do something fun with my border collie Barley a few times per week. Whether we’re trail running, hiking, or just tossing a ball in a new place, we love exploring!

Barley and I don’t live in the United States anymore (you can follow our international adventures on Instagram), and we’re actually kind of missing the amazing trail systems that the US has to offer. We compiled this bucket list of dog-friendly hikes that you should try in 2019. When we return to the US, we’ll follow in your pawprints!

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore this big, beautiful country!

We tried to pick a variety of challenging and beautiful hikes across the country. If you’re not looking for anything this challenging or if you don’t see any hikes that are near enough to you, we suggest:

  • Using the AllTrails App to filter for difficulty, trail length, and dog friendliness (among other things)
  • Checking National Forest Trails. Almost all National Forests are dog-friendly.
  • Looking at nearby State Parks or local parks. Some of the more local parks are dog-friendly as well.


National Parks generally don’t allow dogs, even well-behaved and on-leash ones! In general, National Forests and many State Parks allow dogs. Be sure to always follow leash laws and only allow your dog off-leash if she’s trustworthy around cars, wildlife, people, dogs, water, and anything else you might run into on-trail!


Bucket List Dog-Friendly Hikes for 2019


1.Herman Gulch Trail, Colorado

Location: Near Idaho Springs, Colorado

Difficulty: Hard, hilly and at altitude.

Distance: 6.3 miles.

Off Leash Allowed: Yes

Features: Gorgeous Colorado mountain hike with wildflowers, lakes, and streams. Can get crowded on summer weekends. Watch out for summer thunderstorms!

2. Royal Arch Trail, Colorado

Location: Boulder, Colorado

Difficulty: Medium-hard, hilly and steep in places

Distance: 3 miles

Off Leash Allowed: Only with Boulder County Voice and Sight Permit.

Features: This semi-urban trail can be quite busy, so try to come on a weekday or early in the morning. There are tons of options to extend or shorten your hike in this trail network. The trail finishes with a steep climb to a rock arch that overlooks Colorado’s front range. Barley and I used to do this hike as a regular trail run!

3.Red Butte Canyon Trails, Utah

Location: Just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah

Difficulty: Varies based on route chosen, medium to difficult (especially if you’re not used to altitude).

Distance: 4.3 miles for the basic loop, can easily be extended or shortened.

Off Leash Allowed: Yes

Features: This trail is tantalizingly close to downtown Salt Lake. It offers gorgeous views of the city and the lake if you get high enough. Watch out for the many (surprisingly polite) mountain bikers on this trail! Bring water.

4. Ralston Peak Trail, California

Location: Near Twin Bridges, California

Difficulty: Hard, trail very steep

Distance: 8 mile loop (AllTrails says 6.5, but all reviews say it’s longer)

Off Leash Allowed: Yes, but watch for horses.

Features: This hike offers steep climbs that are rewarded with stunning mountain views. The trail offers good footing throughout its climb. You can even catch views of local ski resorts!

5.Flatiron via Siphon Draw Trail, Arizona

Location: Near Apache Junction, Arizona

Difficulty: Hard to expert – lots of hands-on climbing.

Distance: 6.2 miles

Off Leash Allowed: No.

Features: Follow blue and white markers through the desert to reach a challenging climp to stunning views. This hike allows dogs, but should only be done with dogs that are very comfortable and experienced with jumping and scaling boulders. Bring plenty of water, as there’s none available on the trail.

6. Spruce Mountain, Vermont

Location: Plainfield, Vermont

Difficulty: Moderate, includes hills

Distance: 4.3 miles

Off Leash Allowed: Unknown.

Features: This popular hike winds its way up Spruce Mountain, offering beautiful views of Vermont’s greenery. Climb a watchtower at the end for truly spectacular views! There’s water along the trail to cool your pup off.

7. House Mountain National Area, Tennessee

Location: Near Corryton, Tennessee

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 4.7 miles

Off Leash Allowed: No

Features: This well-marked trail offers great views and diverse terrain. Parking can be challenging, so arrive early if you’re visiting on a weekend. Be prepared for steep climbs! East overlook has the best views if you’re tired and only want to pick one lookout!

8. North Country Trail, WI

Location: Bisects the northernmost tip of Wisconsin from Minnesota to Michigan.

Difficulty: Various sections available for difficulty levels.

Distance: Various sections available for different distances.

Off Leash Allowed: Mostly yes, depending on the area.

Features: Hike through Wisconsin’s gorgeous Penokee mountains in relative solitude. Bring plenty of bug spray, as the flies and mosquitoes can be vicious along this lake-studded trail. I recommend exploring the sections of the trail in Chequamegon National Forest – that’s where I grew up!

9. The Lighthouse Trail, Texas

Location: Near Canyon, Texas

Difficulty: 5.7 miles

Distance: Moderate

Off Leash Allowed: No

Features: This slightly washed-out trail is a gorgeous desert hike leads toa lighthouse rock structure after some steep climbing. The rocks have a pretty pinkish hue, especially in early morning light. Be prepared for some scrambling at the end!

10. Aunt Betty Loop, Maine

Location: Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor, Maine

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.9 mile loop

Off Leash Allowed: No

Features: This beautiful trail parallels a lake for a portion, then veers off into the forests of Acadia National Park. The lakeside areas can get busy, but the rest of the trail is wide and often empty for trail running or hiking, especially early in the day.

Don’t forget to check out other trails near you and support your public lands. Even if you’re too far from our top picks or want something different from your hikes, it’s time to get outside and enjoy America!

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