A runner and his dog take on the 20-mile Peterson Ridge trail race in Sisters, Oregon. Race organizers welcome dogs on the trek and provide snacks for both humans and pups along the route.
Dogs enhance any outdoor experience with their unyielding desire to explore, so it’s no surprise travelers are making space for Fido on even their most adventurous trips. The travel industry has taken note of the demand, and many outfitters now offer pet-friendly tours and accommodations year-round—so there’s no excuse to leave your dog behind on your next kayak, bike, or backpack journey.
Next time you hit the road, bring your pup and take on one of these dog-friendly excursions.
Run the Peterson Ridge Rumble Race in Sisters, Oregon
The 20-mile Peterson Ridge Rumble, is one of the best a handful of trail races that allow dogs to join in the adventure. The April race takes place just outside of the small town of Sisters in Central Oregon. Climb the moderate trails and take in the jaw-dropping views of the Three Sisters mountains. Ample aid stations provide snacks and water for both humans and dogs and all dogs receive a pig’s ear at the finish.
Tips: Like humans, pups must also train for long-distance running. Start slow and follow a plan that increases mileage by no more than 10% each week.
Hike through Blaine Basin in Ouray, Colorado
Walk among the region's 13,000- and 14,000-foot peaks and fields of wildflowers in the infrequently visited Blaine Basin in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. The moderate hike includes stream crossings, waterfalls, and the best view of Mount Sneffels northern face. Let your pup splash in Wilson Creek and sprint across open meadows in this secluded region.
Tip: Camp at one of the many scenic spots in the Basin, or if you want more of a challenge and greater solitude, climb the steep path to the high bench between Mount Sneffels and Blaine Peak for in-your-face views of both peaks.
Bicycle Through Oregon’s Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway
With the most extensive system of any state, Oregon's Scenic Bikeway program has some of the best cycling in the country. The 132-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway takes cyclists on an epicurean feast of Oregon’s most fertile farmlands. There’s no better way to enjoy this two-wheeled excursion than with your dog. Follow the Willamette River, passing an abundance of dog-friendly vineyards, farms, and hops fields where you can sample wine, craft beers, and delectable farm-to-table meals.
Backpack the Chain and Doelle Lakes, Washington
With scenery similar to nearby Enchantments but fewer crowds and more dog-friendly trails, this 21.5-mile out-and-back hike to Chain and Doelle Lakes delivers beautiful views of Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness region. The hike begins on the Pacific Crest Trail, following rolling hills through meadows and forests. Hikers ascend 2,000 feet over the final two miles but are rewarded with a lakeside campsite near the towering granite face of Bull’s Tooth.
Tip: Before heading out in the backcountry, make sure your dog has the right vaccinations and you’ve brought appropriate gear, a medical kit, and sufficient food and water for you both.
Paddle Camp at the Shenandoah River in Virginia
Head to the South Fork of the Shenandoah River to paddle over the region’s remote, crystal clear waters. Easy for both dogs and humans to handle, paddle camping is the ideal way to experience the Shenandoah Valley. Downriver Canoe Company shuttles humans, pups, and gear to various input locations along the river. Camp along the west bank in the George Washington National Forest and return to the shop the following day.
Tip: Keep your dog safe in the water by using a life jacket with a handle, so you can lift him back to the board if he falls overboard.
Hike the Upper Waterholes Canyon, Arizona
Easy to get to and relatively unknown, Upper Waterholes Canyon is a great spot for those wanting to hike a non-technical slot canyon with their dog. Located just south of Page, Waterholes is one of the last tributaries into Glen Canyon. This short hike meanders along sandstone walls that change color depending on the time of day. Stop at Horseshoe Bend on the way back to your camp spot.
Tip: Flash floods are a real danger, so never enter a canyon when the forecast calls for rain or thunderstorms. Rattlesnakes are present in the area, so be aware and keep your dog on leash.
Mountain Bike Along the Richmond Mountain Trails, Vermont
Vermont’s Richmond Mountain Trails offer some of the state’s best technical and varied singletrack, thanks to the contributing landowners and trail builders. Chase your dog up and down mountainside trails that will ensure an endurance thrill for all. At lunch, connect with the locals over a brew from one of the nearby pubs and ask about the secret swimming holes where you and your pup can take a dip.
Tip: Start out slow on an easy, low-traffic trail to get your dog accustomed to running with bikers.
Road Trip Through the Outer Banks, North Carolina
Feel the wind in your hair and the sand in your toes at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The stretch, which reaches over 175 miles, offers a host of dog-friendly activities. Set up camp at Oregon Inlet and catch the sunrise before heading off to race your pup up the sand dunes at Jockey’s Ridge State Park. From there, check out Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge—set aside for nesting birds and endangered species.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Tip: Hit the sand dunes in the early morning, since the area provides little shade, and consider packing dog goggles like Rex Specs to protect your dog’s eyes from the sand and sun.
Kayak with Aqua Adventures in San Diego, California
Aqua Adventures knows that dogs need a variety of stimulation outside of regular walks, so the group welcomes dogs on all of their tours. IIf paddling with a dog is new to you, opt for the introductory class to ensure enjoyment and safe paddling. Once everyone has their sea legs, rent a kayak and head over to Fiesta Island to let your pup run around at the off-leash dog park.
Tip: Aqua Adventures provides doggie life jackets if you don’t have your own, but bring along high-value treats to reward your pup as he becomes used to being on the water.
Hut-to-Hut Cross-Country Ski in Northeastern Minnesota
Follow gray wolf tracks while cross-country skiing along the groomed 19-mile Banadad Ski Trail on a two-day yurt-to-yurt adventure with Boundary Country Trekking. To really tire your pup and give yourself a little break, try skijoring. The local population in this delightfully remote wilderness includes wildlife like birds, pine marten, moose, and, of course, gray wolves. Camp hosts shuttle food, gear, and water to your yurt—leaving it toasty warm upon arrival as they prepare a Mongolian fire pot for dinner.
Tip: Before taking the trip, make sure your pup can walk 12 miles in one day. Rates start at $375 per person for a two-night trip.
Jen Sotolongo cycled toured across Europe and South America for two years with her partner and pup. Learn more about their journey @longhaultrekkers.