Spring Hikes With Man's Best Friend

Posted by Billy Francis

Winter is finally over, and it’s time to “embark” on an outdoor adventure. Whether your hound is an experienced hiker or new to the trail, these spectacular spring hikes offer the best of the season for two- and four-legged trekkers alike.

Easy Hikes

Hikers don’t need to struggle all day to see a beautiful spring display. These rambles start at under a mile and are guaranteed to brighten up any dog’s day.

Sequoia Bayview Trail

Oakland, CA
“This place is tree-mendous.” Photo by @xyztina

Located in the stunningly diverse and dog-friendly Joaquin Miller Park, Sequoia Bayview Trail is an easy, three mile out-and-back trail that welcomes all levels of canine walkers. Yorkshire Terriers will enjoy the shade of colossal sequoias on sunny days and the soft ground under paw along this well-trodden pathway. The trail is wide and level, and the forest floor around it is dotted with colorful wildflowers in spring. Be on the lookout for mountain bikers, as well as plenty of other dog walkers, hikers and runners. If Fido still has energy to burn, let him loose at nearby Joaquin Miller Dog Park.

Reserve a stay at this private oasis in the trees with your pooch and wake up to the sounds of the forest every morning. This quiet studio hidden from the street has a private deck for dogs to enjoy a shady afternoon nap while you rest up for another sequoia stroll.

Bluebell Trail

Centreville, VA
“Roses are red, bluebells are blue, errmm… I’ve got nothing.” Photo by @lifeofleeloo

The Bluebell Trail in Bull Run Regional Park, Virginia, is sprinkled with more than 25 varieties of wildflowers along its path. The most abundant is the breathtaking bluebell, a perennial plant that spills across the forest floor, reaching peak numbers in mid-April. The soft ground and shady trees that lean over create a natural canopy, making it a pleasant, shaded hike for dogs of all levels. Fido might even enjoy a refreshing mist from the river that runs alongside the pathway. Canines who leap at the chance to chase a frog should be kept close, as the amphibious residents love to hop on the trail. The 1.5-mile long pathway can get busy in peak wildflower season, so shy dogs should aim to visit first thing in the day or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds. Afterwards, explore the rest of Bull Run Regional Park and stretch out for a picnic with your pooch at one of the park’s many spacious fields.

The nearby Residence Inn by Marriott Manassas Battlefield Park gives you and your pooch a comfortable and reliable base camp for your springtime adventures. The grassy relief area on the property makes it easy for Fido to embark on a late-night toilet trip.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs, AR
“I’ll just rest here for a minute.” Photo by @rigginsrodriguez

Hot Springs National Park is known for pretty caves, meandering rivers and ancient hot springs. Discover these beautiful natural wonders along 26 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails around the park, with pathways suitable for all levels. If Fido wants to tackle the easy Hot Springs Mountain Trail, he’ll be greeted by an abundance of wildflowers that line the path. The hardest part of the hike is the short incline at the beginning, but then it’s smooth sailing the rest of the way. This shady pathway is soft ground and great for pups who are still getting back into shape. While you’re visiting the park, stop by Superior Bathhouse Brewery, our vote for Arkansas’ best dog-friendly brewery. It’s the only brewery in the country located inside a national park.

Stay on the park’s doorstep at the pet-friendly Embassy Suites Hot Springs Hotel & Spa. The grassy relief area with a waste station is a good place to warm up before exploring the park.

Niquette Bay State Park Trail

Colchester, VT
“I’m just coastin’!” Photo by @cali_thegoldenn

If you time your visit to Niquette Bay State Park just right, you’ll be rewarded with an extraordinary display of spring flowers. At just over three miles in length, Niquette Bay State Park Trail offers most levels of hiker a chance to see a dazzling array of lilies, Dutchman's breeches, and more. The short window of opportunity to see the flowers is in late April, but the park makes a great, pet-friendly hiking destination any time of the year. The pathway has benches strategically positioned for stunning views and a chance for your canine to catch her breath. After the hike, your pooch is welcome to swim off leash and cool off at the Calm Cove area of the park.

Cozy up with your pup at this adorable little cabin on the lake in Colchester. Fido can go for another dip at the beach just footsteps away from the house. If he prefers to stay above water, borrow one of the cabin’s complimentary kayaks and go for a paddle with your pooch.

Moderate Hikes

For something a little more challenging but still achievable for most dogs, stride out with your hound on one of these moderate hikes.

Tongass National Forest

Ketchikan, AK
“If only I could see yellow, this would be even prettier.” Photo by @messy.jessie

Roughly the size of West Virginia, Tongass National Forest is America’s largest national forest. Leashed dogs are welcome year-round on trails leading to epic glaciers, rainforests, salmon streams and jaw-dropping panoramic views. At the tail end of spring, visitors can enjoy something equally majestic: the sprouting of more than 50 different types of native wildflowers. Walk among violets, bluebells and other colorful plants poking their heads above ground along the moderate Dan Moller Cabin Trail, one of many popular paths through the forest. The uphill pathway connects with a boardwalk during steeper moments to make it easier for dogs and their owners to hike the incline. Pups can enjoy fresh water from the many streams, as well as open fields for lunch along the way. Plan your visit between May and June for the best selection of flora.

You and your four-legged companion will need a few days to explore all that Tongass has to offer. Spend your nights at The Landing Hotel & Restaurant, and enjoy the picturesque Alaskan countryside with your pooch.

Sleeping Giant Trail

Kapaa, HI
“What if we wake up the giant by walking on him?” Photo by @thegremliin

The Sleeping Giant Trail is a stunning 3.5-mile hike leading to astonishing views of the rainforest that engulfs most of Kauai, the Garden Isle. Four-legged hikers are rewarded for their perseverance with brightly colored wildflowers that present a feast for the eyes and a bouquet for their noses. Legend says that the mountain is actually a giant who ate far too much at a party, had to lie down and hasn’t awakened since--so make sure your pup’s barks are kept to a minimum. Stick to the marked paths, as wild pigs roam the area and create a number of dangerous hiking trails of their own. This trail is rated moderate thanks to the elevation, but this is made easier by its winding nature. The best time of year to see wildflowers in bloom is late May.

From the mountains to the ocean, this condo on the Royal Coconut Coast is just steps away from a beach where your pooch can dip her paws in the surf. Take a nighttime walk together on the well-lit, paved trails before curling up in bed after a day of exploring.

Mayflower Gulch Trail

Frisco, CO
Take a walk down memory lane! Photo by @sheppyandme

Dive headfirst into Colorado’s unique history and natural beauty on the pet-friendly Mayflower Gulch Trail. Your adventure begins with an incline through a forest, before the trail opens up into a huge valley with views of the upper part of Mayflower Gulch. Explore the abandoned ruins of the old mining town that was once a bustling destination for early settlers. At nearly six miles, this moderate trail is no walk in the park, but the secluded Old West vibe makes it worth the effort. Locals like to use the space as an off-leash area, even though dogs are technically supposed to be kept on a leash. If your pooch doesn’t enjoy interacting with other pups, you may want to choose a different hiking trail in the area. Wildflowers are more abundant in summer in this region of Colorado, but you’ll still find sprinklings of color in late spring.

After a day of hiking, spend a long weekend at this dog-friendly cabin with your pack. Your pooch can join you for a leashed walk around the property with a mountain backdrop, followed by an evening in front of the log fire.

Difficult Hikes

Looking for longer, steeper and more trying trails? Expert outbound hounds are invited to bite off as much as they can chew on these challenging hikes with big payoffs.

Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail

Pineville, KY
“Okay, you can carry me back down again.” Photo by @nicole_detjen

Upon completion, Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail will span 120 miles from Breaks Inter­state Park to Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. The stretch that is already finished offers unparalleled access to one of Kentucky’s last remaining stretches of unfragmented forest and, like the rest of the planned pathway, welcomes dogs on a leash. However, canines aren’t the only animals who frequent the scenic trail. The relatively untouched land is a travel corridor for black bears and home to a restored elk population, so keep your best friend by your side when you stride out. The pathway is a canvas for native Kentucky plants each spring, especially between April and May. This trail is rated as difficult thanks to steep staircases, rough climbs and the Lemon Squeeze, which will require a careful handing over of your pooch to another hiker.

Located a short drive from the trailhead in Pineville, the lodges and cottages at Pine Mountain State Resort Park welcome dogs and their owners to put their feet up and restore their energy in comfortable surroundings. If you need to pop out to top up Fido’s hiking treats, dogs are able to be left in the room unattended for short periods of time.

Grandfather Mountain

Linville, NC
“This mountain’s probably younger than my actual grandad!” Photo by @kitkat.dellinger

Shuffle over to Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina for a great spring hike with your pooch. The name comes from early settlers who claimed they could see the outline of an old man’s face on the peaks. One of the more challenging trails is the Grandfather Mountain Trail, a beautiful, rugged, out-and-back pathway covered in wildflowers. Ladders and cables will help you cross more treacherous areas, so less mobile dogs might struggle with this unique hike. Dogs who fit in a backpack and relish the chance to clamber across rocks will love this adventure. For an easier stroll in the area, eat a picnic near the entrance and wander under the shade of trees on the short Woods Walk. The best time to visit is March for violets, May for magnolias, and June for daisies, but there are lots of colorful plants sprouting throughout spring

Part of Grandfather Mountain’s allure is that it remains relatively undeveloped. One of the few pet-friendly hotels in the area is the Best Western Mountain Lodge at Banner Elk. Four-legged guests receive treats at check-in and are free to go about their business in the pet relief area on the property.

Mount Timpanogos

American Fork, UT
This good old dog’s still got it. Photo by @shootfreshtk

Seasoned canine hikers will relish the challenge of scaling Mount Timpanogos on the Timpooneke Trail. This popular trek takes visitors on a tour of Utah’s stunning mountain peaks, refreshing waterfalls, and abundance of wildflowers that bloom toward the end of spring. Make sure you keep your pooch leashed, because there’s a high chance you’ll run into mountain goats along the trail or standing awkwardly on impossible-to reach-ledges. This difficult trek is nearly 15 miles there and back, so plan accordingly. Pack plenty of supplies for a full day out, and make sure Fido has his hiking gear for the trip.

Return to civilization for a night of recovery at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Provo Orem before heading out on your next adventure around Utah’s vast backcountry.

Dog Mountain Trail

Stevenson, WA
“Springtime for Fido!” Photo by @agoodboybandit

Dog Mountain Trail is divided into two routes: difficult and more difficult. With that being said, determined and experienced hikers reap the reward of a uniquely fantastic sight of thick yellow balsamroot atop a mountain peak. The path can be narrow at times and will require your pooch to stay on track and not be led off course by new and exciting smells. For an easier trek, choose the eastern trail, which climbs through wildflower fields. The best time to see the stunning floral display is from May until June. Wildflower season is so popular here that a permit is required for you and your dog to hike the pathway. Permits can be obtained here.

For more trails, views and wildflowers, reserve a night in a Carson Ridge Luxury Cabin. The included three-course gourmet breakfast will give you plenty of fuel for your hike.

Where’s your favorite pet-friendly spring hike? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash.