Goodbye, winter. Hello, spring!
From the gorgeous blooms to the warmer weather, spring is a seasonal favorite for many, especially our furry friends. Dogs welcome the opportunity to play outdoors, and there are many places that take outdoor adventures to the next level, especially in and around our nation’s capital! Below is a list of five dog-friendly hiking trails near Washington, D.C., complete with all the details you need to know before you and your dog embark on an outdoor adventure.
First, prepare for your hike with a well-organized kit for your dog. According to the American Hiking Society (https://americanhiking.org/resources/gear-for-hiking-with-a-dog/), you should hit the trail with the following items that will keep your dog safe and comfortable:
- Collar or harness
- Identification tag or microchip
- At least eight ounces of water per hour of hiking (avoid letting your dog drink from puddles and ponds)
- Collapsible bowl
- Plastic bags or small spade to effectively deal with waste
- Canine first aid kit (hydrogen peroxide to disinfect cuts, scissors with rounded tips to trim the hair around wounds, bandages and gauze pads, tweezers to remove foreign objects in a wound, and a small sock or bootie to protect a wounded paw)
- Reflective jacket, collar, leash, or small light
- Clothing (booties, bandana or neck gaiter, canine flotation device, and an insulating jacket)
Whether the trail is easy to navigate or on the challenging side to climb, pack the items mentioned above to ensure your pet’s safety in the event something unexpected happens. Without further ado, here are five of the best hiking trails in town to take your dog this spring:
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Potomac River, Washington, D.C.
“This trail is a personal favorite,” says Lauren, owner of two beagles. “My pups have a great time exploring... with me being close by, of course.”
Theodore Roosevelt Island is 2.5 miles of easy, leisurely trails through wooded paths. Kayaking and canoeing are also available. Dogs seem to really love the memorial area because of its many acres of trails and nature. Please note: Dogs must remain on a leash in the park.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry, WV
This park is less than 50 miles from D.C., and this 1,278-mile Appalachian Trail offers challenging mountain climbs in addition to scenic riverside walks. Park officials request that your pet remains on a six-foot leash at all times while visiting any area of the park.
Prince William Forest Park
Prince William Forest Park is a 15,000-acre refuge with 37 miles of hiking trails that are moderately challenging to climb. This park was used as a spy-training facility by the Office of Strategic Services before World War II! Although this park is not considered a major challenge to hike, please keep in mind that these trails pose a challenge at various times throughout the climb. All pets must be on a leash of six feet or less, and pets are prohibited in the Chopawamsic Backcountry area, the Turkey Run Ridge Group Campground, public buildings, and cabin camps (except when aiding those with disabilities).
Catoctin Mountain Park
Catoctin Mountain Park, site of the presidential retreat Camp David, welcomes human and canine hikes of all abilities (from easy to hard) to its 25 miles of hiking trails with views of the Monocacy River Valley. Pets must remain on a leash no longer than six feet in length, and pets are not allowed on the rock formations (for safety reasons).
Mt. Vernon, VA
“Some of our best outings have been at Mt. Vernon. Pretty, my lab, enjoys walking around the beautiful grounds,” shares Susan.
Mt. Vernon offers easy, relaxed hikes through the grounds of George Washington’s 500-acre estate. President Washington loved dogs! Needless to say, your furry friend is welcomed with open arms; however, dogs are not permitted during evening events. Pet owners must stay with their leashed pets at all times. If you forget water, no problem! Water bowls are located at the entrance of the property.