Get ready for some serious tail wagging
The only thing better than a hard-earned summit is reaching the top with your favorite adventure companion. So we rounded up the top seven dog-friendly trails in the country, according to the best judges we have: you. Grab the leash and a handful of treats, and catch the most scenic ascents and sweeping views with your furry friend.
7. Government Peak to Hatchers Chalet Traverse: Fishhook, Alaska
Follow the ridgeline to the heart of Hatcher Pass, where you'll find expansive views of countless peaks and lakes. If you opt to hike it in the spring, you'll find your path scattered with wildflowers and snowy mountain tops. Be sure to pay close attention to the trail, as losing the ridgeline will force you to do some less-than-fun bushwhacking.
6. Laurel Highlands Trail: Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
Hiking Project contributor Jason Doedderlein describes this trail as "a rolling, forested hike through the hardwood hills of southwestern Pennsylvania." The path attracts minimal crowds, so enjoy 10.5 miles of isolation as you trek along the Yughiogheney River. If you want to keep going, the trail stretches on for over 70 miles, and you can turn around at any point, so this hike can be as long or as short as you'd like.
5. Bear Peak: Boulder, Colorado
With a maximum grade of 70 percent, brace yourself for some steep parts before you reach the summit of this one. But the dramatic views at an elevation of over 8,000 feet are well worth the climb. All dogs are allowed on-leash—and those with blue tags can hike Bear Peak off-leash.
4. Little Wildhorse and Bells Canyon Loop: Ferron, Utah
The classic canyon maze is a haven for off-leash enthusiasts. Follow the nine-mile trail through the narrows and up a couple Class 3 and Class 4 scrambles as Fido explores all of its hidden crevices. Pro tip: Make sure your dog's wearing a harness so you can give your favorite hiking companion a boost at some of the trickier spots.
3. Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop: Stanley, Virginia
Foggy in the winter and lush and green in the warmer months, the Whiteoak Canyon to Cedar Run Loop delivers waterfall after waterfall. With a whopping six of them total—all in under nine miles—you're never far from a scenic spot along the river. The trail leads you over several water crossings, and your pup will love splashing in the shallow sections. This is "among the best hikes—if not the best hike—in Shenandoah," according to Hiking Project contributor Nicholas Crow.
2. Duck Pass Trail: Mammoth Lakes, California
Welcome to what Hiking Project contributor Tom Robson calls one of the most beautiful trails in all of the Inyo National Forest. Enjoy often snow-capped peaks and bright green-blue waters. The shaded forested hillside and access to Arrowhead, Emerald, and Skelton Lakes will help keep your four-legged friend cool, even with the California sun shining.
1. Four Pass Loop: Snowmass Village, Colorado
"An all-time journey over four 12,500-foot alpine passes, circumnavigating the Maroon Bells," says Hiking Project contributor Jason Smith of the 27-mile loop. See four 14-ers and classic lake views as you ascend a total of 7,734 feet. Pro tip: Hike this trail in the fall when the aspens are turning gold.
Want more great trails? Check out the best of Hiking Project.