Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Every Dog Has its Day: 10 Dog Friendly Hikes on the Olympic Peninsula:

Every day, well, more like once a week, I get a phone call or an email with a blog request. It is always the same question, time after time. However, there is no reference in their questions to Cyndi Lauper, in fact, their questioning has gone to the dogs. The question is simple and is always identical; “Where can I take my dog on a hike in the Olympic Peninsula!?!?!?!?!?!” and is usually followed with “Why does the Olympic National Park hate dogs?”

Millie, enjoying the snow almost as much as me!
As a dog owner myself, I always feel horrible leaving my lab at home while I go romp around in the woods. She watches me leave, knowing that her owner is about to live the life that she should be living.  Luckily, after some research and phone calls, I have been able to put together a list of places that not only are dog friendly, but are also beautiful, unique and above all, amazing examples of the vast ecosystem of the Olympic Peninsula.

The following is not all of the dog friendly trails, but a selection that will give you and your dog the full array of what the Olympic Peninsula has to offer. From high alpine climbs, to beaches and forests, you both will be panting and wagging your tail for joy. (Editor’s note: If you have a tail, first of all awesome, and second, you may want to see a doctor)

1) Quinault National Recreation Trail System (All Breeds)
                Located along the South Shore Road of Lake Quinault, this system of trails gives you and your pup access to the rainforest without breaking federal laws. The Quinault area gives you over 10 miles of hiking, ranging from walks along the lake, to seeing giant cedar and spruce trees and even a few waterfalls. Just 2 hours from Olympia, this is a fantastic day trip for you and your four legged friend! With so many smells, trees and miles of trails, you and your dog will have all of your senses reward! 
Directions: Click Here
Great Map of trail system!

Why I like this area:
- Different Hikes for different Moods
- Close to a city
- Beautiful Year round
- View of Mountains, lakes waterfalls and some of the largest trees in the world!

Why my dog likes this area:
- Smells
- Easy trails
- Trees
- Lots of water to drink on trails

1A) !!!!!!!!!!!!!Extra side trip: Fletcher Canyon !!!!!!!!!!! 

2) Tubal Cain Mine Meadows & Buckhorn Lake (Large Breeds)
                At 14 total miles, this round trip hike can long, but is totally worth it. With rhododendrons along the trail, this is a spring time must, as your sense of smell, and your dogs, will give you the feeling that you are walking in the most beautiful French Perfume shop in the world. With numerous animal species in the area, make sure you are following all precautions, are the area does have mountain lions and supposedly bobcats. At just under 2000ft elevation, this won’t be too exhausting and is a great day for larger breeds of dogs!

-                                   Why I like this area
o   Not crowded
o   Great smells
o   Not too far from a major city/food or water
                     Why my dog likes it
o   Good Smells
o   Lots of trees
o   Not too many other dogs
o   Time outdoors
- Access to water!

Directions: Click Here

3) Dungeness Spit: (All Breeds) Click For Link
View of Dungeness Spit
This is a personal favorite, as it reminds me of how much my childhood Pomeranian loved the beach. This area is great for the whole family, and I would even take a trained cat on this hike if I could!!! With so many birds, sights and sounds, this is probably the best bet for a fantastic day with your dog and the beach! Located near Sequim and Port Angeles, this is just a hop away from Victoria, British Columbia or Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. I highly suggest this one in the summer and fall, as that is when the weather will be the best for you and your canine friend. With few water sources in the summer, make sure you pack enough for you and your pet!!
(Update: Apparently the area is currently unfriendly dog wise, though, like everything this may change. An alternative to this would be Port Williams Bay if you don't feel like arguing for canine rights)

Why I Like this area:
- Great Birding
- Views of the Olympic Mountains, Vancouver Island and Mt Baker
- Fun in good and bad weather

Why my dog likes this area:
- The smell of the ocean
- Driftwood to play fetch with
- Numerous things washed up on shore
- Other dogs!!
4) Mt. Ellinor- See Link for information and directions

While technically not allowed, dogs frequent Mt Ellinor almost as much as people. On a summer day, the trail is packed with creatures big and small, all struggling to get up this beast of a climb. While I think this is good for some dogs, be aware that I have seen more than my fair share of people having to carry down their furry friends. With few water sources in the summer, make sure you pack enough for you and your pet!! Also, Mountain Goats are common and can be aggressive. Be advised.

*If there is snow on the trail, use good judgment…Don’t me a jerk and force your dog to glissade. That is animal abuse!!!!

Why I like this area:
- Easy to get to from Olympia, Seattle and Bremerton.
- Amazing views year round
- Tough, but rewarding

Why My dog likes this area:
- A combination of trees and high alpine trails
- Smells from Mountain Goats, other dogs and people
- Snow packs and mud!

4A) !!!  Extra Side Trip: Mt Rose!!!!!!! http://www.summitpost.org/mount-rose/152716_

5) Ruby Beach (All Breeds)
Ruby Beach
Ruby Beach is one of the few places in the country where a dog is allowed in a National park trail. However, be aware that this place is crowded year round, and while many people do not bring dogs, there is plenty of wildlife along the shore that may get spooked easily. From seals to baby bald eagles and even otters, your dog needs to be on a leash at all times! Drinking water is also a problem, but since the parking lot is near the beach, you don't need to lug it around when you or your dog gets thirsty!

Why I like this area:
- A beautiful drive along the Washington Coast and through the Rain Forest.
- Birding is always amazing, and sometimes the tide pools are full of creatures!
- Tie this with the Lake Quinault Area and it makes an amazing day!

Why my dog likes this area:
- The smell of the ocean
- Endless stretches of beach to run on
- Dogs and people
- Strange things in the tide pool to be scared of

6) Murhut Falls (Good All Breeds)
Murhut Falls
 This short trail is perfect for an afternoon/evening getaway from the Olympia area and allows for a magnificent view of a double tiered waterfall. It is wide, easy to navigate and best of all, just over a mile! The main problem will be getting your dog down to the river area, but only if they are scared of going down dirt slopes to rushing water. This is typically empty and remote enough to have a good picnic with your best friend! It is also good for families, so click the link below and have a blast!

Why I like this area:
- Close to Olympia
- An Incredible beautiful waterfall
- Usually not too crowded
-Open all year

Why my dog likes this area:
- Trees
- Water
- Happy Owner

 Don’t get me wrong, I love pet policies in the Olympic Peninsula and I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, but setting up a few more dog friendly hikes in the area would be amazing and helpful. Remember to clean up after your dog, bring them food and water and keep them on a leash when posted! Check out these listed dog friendly hikes and tell us what your dog’s favorite one is!
Until next time, have a good time and keep your dog happy!!!

Douglas Scott
Exotic Hikes


  1. East Crossing Trail (former FS2860 road). From Hwy 101 3 miles east of Sequim, follow Palo Alto Road 7 miles to end of pavement, then 0.3 miles on gravel FS28 to the trailhead on the right. Trail leads to East Crossing Camp on the Dungeness River in 2 miles, and ties to the Gold Creek - Lower Dungeness Trail loop at 3 miles. Wonderful for hiking, mountain biking and dogs are A-OK.

  2. Olympic National Park's Peabody Creek Trail is open to dogs. It begins at the west end of the Visitors Center parking area in Port Angeles, and runs about 3 miles up Peabody Creek, ending near Hurricane Ridge Road. This is an easily accessible, 4-season hike.

    Many sections of the Olympic Discovery Trail are good dog walks, too.

    However, Dungeness Spit itself (#3 above) is a National Wildlife Refuge and is closed to dogs, a policy which is to protect nesting birds and is not likely to ever change.

  3. Another favorite is Miller Peninsula state park land, off Diamond Point Road near Gardiner (7 miles east of Sequim). Almost 20 miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails await. Favorite is "Beach Blvd.", the 1 mile hike north to the beach overlooking Protection Island. Dog friendly! And Discover Pass not required.