How do you select a trail that's dog fun, dog friendly, and dog safe? After hiking more than 750 happy miles with her canine companions, Meesha and Dundee, Ellen Bishop is an expert on this subject. In Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon, 2nd Ed, she provides a checklist that you can use to determine the suitability of any trail as an appropriate and safe place for adventures with your dog. A trail is a good choice, says Bishop, if it offers the following features:

  • Springs, streams, and/or lakes for your dog to take a dip in; dog use must not contaminate a critical human water source
  • Shade for much of the hike
  • No major roads or vehicular traffic
  • Minimal or no contact with livestock or pack stock
  • No leash requirement (though a leash should be available at all times)
  • No rare, threatened, or endangered species
  • Minimal or no poison oak or ivy
  • Minimal or no cliffs or other hazards for ambitious and highly energetic or inexperienced dogs
  • Few other hikers or small children
  • No off-road vehicles, including mountain bikes
  • No long rocky stretches—especially over sharp rocks; trails should be easy on the paws
  • A trailhead that is easily accessible by car.

—Adapted from Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon, 2nd Ed by Ellen Bishop, published by The Mountaineers Books, $18.95. For Best Hikes With Dogs titles in your region, check out our full list.

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