Now that spring has sprung and summer is just around the corner, it’s all we can do not to spend every waking minute enjoying the beautiful outdoors that surrounds us. And who wants to hike and camp it alone? You don’t and you shouldn’t. You should get outside and take your four-legged best friend along with you!
Utah is home to any and everything you could ever want to do outside—including spectacular dog-friendly hiking trails. But before we tell you the best places in the state that will give you and Fido a delightful workout, there are some things you need to know before you two head out on the trails.
Tips for Hiking with Your Dog
From ensuring your dog is ready for hiking to what you need to pack, here are some tips that will guarantee both of you have a safe and enjoyable hike.
Before the Hike
Make sure your dog is ready. Your dog needs to be conditioned so they’re physically ready for the type of trail you’re taking on. Also consider your dog’s social skills and temperament so you know whether a busier hiking trail or a less popular one is best.
Have current ID tags. In case you and your dog would get separated, know that you’ll be reunited as long as your dog has ID tags that are up-to-date with your current contact information. Also, make sure Fido’s wearing a well-fitted collar so those tags stay attached.
Bring the essentials. You don’t want to carry too heavy of packs, but you can’t bring stuff for yourself and not your dog. Some things to consider packing are treats, dog food, water, a collapsible bowl for the water and one for the food, doggie bags for dog poop, dog booties and a towel.
Don’t forget a canine first-aid kit. Whether your dog has a run-in with another animal or cuts their paw on a sharp rock, you want to be prepared. Buy a pre-assembled kit from a pet supply store, or make your own and include bandages, gauze, antiseptic and tweezers among other items.
Choose dog-friendly trails. This means doing your research to find hiking trails that allow dogs but also ones that are easy on your puppy and their puppy paws, i.e. has shady spots and is void of lots of small, sharp rocks.
During the Hike
Keep Fido on a leash. Some trails require your dog remains on a leash, but even if they don’t and your dog is very obedient, keep them on a leash. This way you can keep them near you at all times and away from poisonous plants and other animals and people.
Take plenty of breaks. You and your dog should both stop for multiple rest and water breaks, especially if it’s a really hot day and a vigorous hike. Be sure to give your canine small portions of their food during your hike. Stop in the shade if you can find it.
After the Hike
Check for unwanted little buggers. Always check, and double check, for fleas and ticks right after your hike.
Reward your dog. Your dog just went on a fun but also physically-draining adventure with you—reward them with a nice belly rub and a couple of those treats you brought along.
Dog-friendly Utah Trails
From easy walks to more challenging hikes, here are the must-try dog-friendly hiking trails in Utah.
Midway is home to Bloods Lake Trail, a quiet 1.1 mile back trail that’s doable for all human and canine skill levels. Because it’s located on the back side of Big Cottonwood Canyon, your dog is allowed to hike with you off their leash. It’s accessible from March until October, and the best thing your pooch will love about this hike, especially during the summer months, is the lake they’ll be able to cool off and swim in.
If you hike Bloods Lake Trail and still want to get in more of a workout, continue hiking onto Lackawaxen Lake Trail. Also starting on the east side of Guardsmans Pass up Big Cottonwood Canyon, you and your canine best friend can hike this 2.1 mile moderately trafficked back trail. With its scenic views, open spaces and up-and-down trail, Lackawaxen Lake is an enjoyable way to exercise outdoors with your dog.
A hiker’s favorite in Millcreek Canyon, Bowman Fork Trail is where you go to escape the heat and take your pooch on a fun hike along a beautiful stream from July through October. Rated a moderate hike, this 8.6 mile trail is primarily used for hiking, but some claim it can be a bit challenging even for seasoned hikers. Many hike to White Fir Pass, which offers breathtaking views of Gobbler’s Knob, or Alexander Basin, a steep but gorgeous hike. And a major thing to note for Bowman Fork, your dog is allowed off-leash during odd days of the year but must be leashed on even days.
Nestled in Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Alpine, Horsetail Falls Trail is a difficult hike, but it’s worth it. You’ll wind through forested areas and an open meadow until you eventually reach Horsetail Falls, a lesser-known cascading beauty that overlooks the valley. A near 6 mile roundtrip hike accessible from March until October, this incredible trail is a must-hike for you and your pup, who has to be kept on a leash.
A 6 mile trail near Sandy in Dimple Dell Park, Wrangler is a perfect for all hikers. With its easy skill level, some have said it’s more of a nice nature walk than a hike, but others who have taken their dogs say their dogs were out by the end of the trail, so it can be a great workout too. So grab your kids and Fido—who must be kept on a leash—and head to Dimple Dell Park for a fun, picturesque day outside on Wrangler Trail.
If views are important to you, then Portal Overlook Trail in Moab is the trail for you. It’s 2 miles to Portal Overlook (allow 3 hours for your round trip journey), but every minute and step taken is well worth the stunning panoramic views of the Moab Valley, the La Sal Mountains and the Colorado River. A leash is recommended for your dog and so is bringing plenty of water for the two of you since it’s a desert area, but Portal Overlook Trail is mostly in the shade of higher cliffs during late afternoons in the summer so there’s your time to go to help steer clear the heat.
We’d love to know where you and your dog regularly hike, so leave us a comment with your favorite dog-friendly hiking spot!
And if you’re looking for even more places to adventure through, download our hiking guide for the complete list of Utah’s best hikes.