Hiking With Your Family Dog
June 18, 2014

Some of our most memorable family hikes have included our dogs Zoe and Obi. Since our boxer, Zoe passed away a few weeks ago, we’ve made it even more of a priority to bring Obi along with us whenever we can. Dogs are pack animals and they love to be with their family as much as possible, so what better activity to include them in than a family hike?

Keep these tips in mind when taking your family’s furry friend along on a hiking trip. 

1. Make sure your dog is physically fit enough for hiking.

If you have an older dog, a dog not used to strenuous activity, or a dog with health conditions, leave them at home. Ease your dog into shorter hikes before heading out on a long trip. And if you’re not sure what’s right for your dog, check with your veterinarian first.

2. Plan ahead.

Make sure that you know your destination’s rules for dogs before going. Most places require dogs to be leashed, usually on a six-foot leash or less, and some parks do not allow dogs at all. There’s not much worse then packing everyone up (including your dog) for a hiking trip and then finding out that dogs aren’t allowed once you arrive! 

3. Make sure your dog is wearing tags with current identification.

Be sure that your dog’s collar has ID tags with current phone numbers on it. Even though your dog will most likely be leashed, it is better to be safe than sorry.

4. Bring water and food.

Remember that dogs do not sweat so they can overheat easily and quickly and need a lot of fresh water to keep cool. Pack plenty of water for your dog and a travel or collapsible water bowl. We always bring plenty of snacks and treats for Obi as well. Miles, our toddler always reminds us to bring out the dog treats every time we stop for a rest.

5. Pack dog waste bags

Make sure that you have pet waste bags along. Not only is it unsanitary and unpleasant to find pet waste along a hiking trail, but leaving waste behind also comes with a large fine. Remember that Leave No Trace principles apply to you and to your pets!

6. Take breaks

Whether it’s taking a splash in a creek or stream or whether you've stopped at some rocks for a snack, your dog will appreciate a few breaks. Chances are, you and your kids will too. 

Now that you’re ready to hit the trail, here are a few dog- and family-friendly destinations in the Philadelphia region and Lehigh Valley

.French Creek State Park, Elverson

Ironton Rail Trail, Whitehall

Jacobsburg Environmental Education, Nazareth

Wissahickon Valley Park, Philadelphia

D&L Trail, points throughout Lehigh Valley and Bucks County, including dog-friendly Sand Island Park in Bethlehem

Pennypack Park and the Pennypack Trail, Huntingdon Valley

Pulpit Rock (more difficult), Hamburg

Wildlands Conservancy’s Pool Wildlife Sanctuary, Emmaus


What are your favorite family hiking locations that are dog-friendly?


April 20, 2015 (9)
America’s National Parks are getting a lot of welcome attention right now, due to the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016.
September 2, 2012 (6)
Need some fresh ideas for outdoor fun with your kids? Here are a few free or low-cost suggestions gathered from AMC experts!
Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!


Tip of the Day

Devise a local treasure hunt with a hand-made map, or practice your more formal map and compass or GPS skills.

© 2023 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us