I think we can all agree that the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place, and it also has some of the best hiking trails a person could ask for. For those of you that are lucky enough to call Oregon home, we’ve put together a list of great hikes to go on with none other than man (and woman’s) best friend- your dog!
Like Emily’s dad always said, “be alert, don’t get hurt.” Before going out on any hike it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. Here’s how:
1. Wear the proper gear! For rugged hikes, make sure your four-legged friend has proper paw protection. There are many great options for “boots” your dog can wear to keep him/her comfortable on rugged terrain. We suggest RuffWear’s BarknBoots. Also, ensure your pet is protected from the elements, such as rain (c’mon, it’s the Pacific Northwest, remember?), sun and heat. For rain- keep your dog protected with a rain jacket, perhaps one made by Muffinhead?! For sun/heat- try to stick to amply shaded trails and consider purchasing ice pack collars or vests. For DIY cooling, try soaking a T-shirt or bandana in cool water and placing on your dog.
2. Keep hydrated! Plan on bringing enough water to get you AND your dog through your hike. Again, vests or doggie hiking packs can be used to carry water, as well as poop bags and treats! Just be sure to remember that dogs should carry no more than 30% of their body weight.
3. Map it out! It is important to make sure you know the trail before starting a hike. Carry a map, or check the trailhead for information regarding the length of the trail, possible detours/construction, etc. Also, get an idea of how long it will take you to hike a given area. Consider the time of day you embark on a hike and how much daylight you will have. Allow yourself extra time and never attempt to complete a trail knowing you will not have ample light to do so.
4. Leash ‘em! Most of us have dogs that are obedient and do great off-leash. However, dogs that usually come when called may not if tempted by a running squirrel, rabbit, or other wild animal. Depending on where you are, there could be other larger animals that would consider your pet a viable option for dinner. There are always possible dangers lurking on any trail and no one wants to endanger the lives of their dog companions, so remember to leash your dog when hiking.
So, now that we’ve covered the essentials, it’s time to have fun! Here’s some of our favorite places near Portland to bring our canine companions:
1. Forest Park– This one is an obvious choice for any Portlander, if only because of its location. It’s a forest IN the city! It has several easily accessible trails that range from easy to moderate in difficulty. We especially enjoy the Wildwood Trail, which spans 42 miles and enables you to explore various parts of the trail throughout the year.
2. Angel’s Rest– This is a great trail located in the Columbia River Gorge. The hike takes about 3 hours to complete and has an elevation of 1,590 feet with minimal elevation gain and moderate difficulty. However, there is limited shade, so be sure to take the neccesary precautions to keep your muffinhead cool!
3. Dog Mountain– Also located in the Gorge, this trail is best hiked April-June due to the gorgeous display of wildflowers that can be found during those months. The trail is a 7.5 mile loop with an elevation of 2,948 feet and can be considered strenuous at times. Be sure you and your dog are in good physical condition before embarking on this hike. If both of you are, this trail is well-worth the difficulty just to see the flowers!
4. Cape Lookout (North Trail)– This is a great trail located in Tillamook which offers beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean along the way. It is a 5.2 mile hike with moderate difficulty and usually takes about 2-3 hours. Approximately 1.5 miles into the hike, the trail begins dropping and edges briefly along the top of cliffs—the drop-offs are screened and cushioned by salal and shore pine. Occasional gaps in the salal fringe permit glimpses of the beach below.
Again, these are just a few of the trails that the team here at Muffinhead enjoy. You can check out more dog-friendly hikes at www.localhikes.com