The only thing better than a day on the trails is a day on the trails with your dog! Man's best friend is also man and woman's best hiking buddy. Their enthusiasm will drive you through the steep ups, and their desire to sniff will grant you many well-deserved rests along the way. It's also a wonderful opportunity to put down your phone, forget your human obligations, and just spend some quality time with your favorite canine. On your next visit to the Adirondacks, don't bother calling the pet sitter - bring your dog instead! Whether you're both seasoned trekkers or new to the trails, the following guide to dog-friendly hiking in the Adirondacks provides all the information you need for a fun – and safe – day on the mountain.
When it comes to hiking with your dog, there are certain precautions that should be taken to ensure that you, your furry companion, and your fellow hikers stay safe. For a tail-wagging good time, follow these six safety guidelines on every hike.
A leash is the most important piece of safety gear you can bring on any hike with your dog. Though it may seem natural to let an animal loose in the woods, domesticated dogs are very different from native wildlife. Just as the local plants and critters aren't used to them, your dog isn't accustomed to what it will encounter in the woods, either. Their adorable curiosity combined with their innocent naivete can have undesirable results. What would happen if your dog encountered a porcupine, skunk, or bear? What if they chased a deer deep into the woods – would they be able to find their way back?
It's also important to consider your fellow hikers and their dogs. There may be a child on the trail ahead of you who is afraid of dogs, or another canine not as friendly as yours. While it does mean putting up with a little tugging now and then, keeping your dog on a leash really is the best option for you, your pet, and everyone else on the trail.
Summers get hot, winters get cold. Through the course of a year in the Adirondacks, you will encounter sun, rain, snow, and everything in between. While you can put on or take off layers, your dog has only the fur he or she was born with. While they may seem rugged and tough, dogs are vulnerable to the weather too. Before you hit the trail, check the forecasted temperatures and conditions for the day. Make sure it's not going to be too hot, too cold, or too wet for your dog. Every breed and individual animal is different, so it's up to you to make the right call for your pet. While their mopey eyes might sting when you leave them behind, you'll be happier in the long run knowing they are safe.
You should always map your hikes before you head out, even if you don't have a dog with you. That said, much like the weather, it is up to you as the pet owner to consider the number of miles and amount of elevation you plan to tackle and make an informed decision as to whether or not it is an excursion well suited to your pet.
Whether it's due to a bad past experience or simply personal preference, you will encounter other hikers (and other dogs) who aren't interested in a trailside meet and greet. Help your dog respect the personal boundaries of others on the trail by keeping your dog close and asking permission before allowing your dog to approach.
Even when you keep your dog on a leash, there is a possibility that they will slip away. To be safe, make sure to affix a sturdy tag to your dog's collar that includes their name and your phone number. This greatly increases the odds of a happy reunion!
If dogs could talk, being a pet owner would be much easier. Fortunately, they do have ways of communicating, and it's important to pay attention to what they are trying to tell you. Are they panting heavily and lapping at every puddle? It's time for a water break. Are they whining and lying down in the trail? Pause and let them rest. Are they favoring a paw? Turn back and don't push your pet past their point of comfort. In addition to watching them, be sure to keep an eye out for dangers they aren't aware of, and take time to guide them through difficult parts of the trail. It may seem like their four legs make hiking a breeze, but they may feel challenged, too!
As you prepare for your hike, be sure to add these dog-friendly items to your daypack. Or, if your dog is big enough, consider buying them a backpack of their own so they can carry their own gear!
There is a lifetime's worth of hiking in the Adirondacks, and many of the trails are dog-friendly. Bond with your dog by taking on the Saranac 6er challenge together. Comprised of six mountains surrounding the charming, very dog-friendly village of Saranac Lake, these hikes are of small to medium size and difficulty, making them perfect for canine companions. Similarly, the Lake Placid 9er challenge will take you and your dog up a range of easy to challenging mountains ending in stunning summit views. Tupper Lake offers three dog-friendly hikes – Coney Mountain, Goodman Mountain, and Mount Arab, which boasts a fire tower!
Along the eastern border of the Adirondacks, the Adirondack Coast, Lake Champlain Region, and Lake George Regions all offer a variety of more level trail networks through beautiful forests and along lake and river edges. Enjoy green grass and wide open spaces at Cadyville Park, or discover the Champlain Area Trails, or CATS, which features 87 trails totaling over 200 miles.
If you plan to hike in the High Peaks Region, keep in mind that leashes are not just a common courtesy, they are a requirement. DEC Forest Rangers can and will ticket you for having your dog off-leash. There are also a few areas where dogs are not allowed at all, including the Ausable Club, a common access point for several of the High Peaks. Please be respectful of these restrictions and either leave your dog safely at home or choose a different hike. On hot or extremely cold days, please do not leave your dog in the car and go on without them.