Tips for Hiking with your Dog

One great thing about living in Cincinnati is that you have access to several states worth of hiking within a few hours drive. We’ve visited a few of these locations on our travels and can recommend several. But first, make sure you’re prepared to hike with your dog. 

Check if a hike is pet-friendly

Two years into our 5-year 50-state road trip and we still make this mistake. It seems obvious, but check if your dog is allowed on the trails at state and national parks. Rules vary state by state and sometimes park by park. 

Bring water and food

If you’re going for a hike bring water and food for your pup. Truffles is a well-trained hiker but will sometimes lay down if she’s too hungry and can’t pawsibly go on without a snack. Some parks do have streams along your hike but if you can keep your pet from drinking the natural water it’s better. Truffles has suffered two bouts of Giardia from drinking stream water. We have fresh water with us, but she’s a sneaky stream drinker. If your pet is a sneaky stream drinker like Truffles, look for parts where the water is constantly flowing instead of the stagnant areas to reduce the risk. 

Bring poop bags

Most parks want you to pack it all in and out, including pet waste. Just because it’s outside doesn’t mean that your pet’s fecal matter won’t harm the local environment. Some dogs are trained to carry their own bags in and out which is great. If you, like Truffles’ dad, are the poop sherpa then you may consider leaving it along the trail to get upon your return—just set a reminder to pick it up. 

Be prepared to carry your dog

Unless your dog is a regular hiker they may get exhausted on a long hike. Truffles has been building up for years and has even done 9-10 miles on her little legs once or twice. But, the number of times we’ve seen larger dogs (particularly puppies) that are being carried is surprising. Plan ahead to make sure you can carry your dog if it’s needed. Truffles has a K9-Sport Sack for when she needs to be carried (but that’s pretty rare). If you can’t carry your dog, keep your hikes shorter until you know their stamina.

Follow leash rules

Some natural areas allow dogs under voice control to be off-leash. Many expect you to keep your pet on a leash that is 6-8 feet long (or shorter) for the entire hike. The rules are there for your dogs safety due to natural predators in the area, the safety and enjoyment of other hikers on the trail (I know, it’s hard to believe but some people are afraid of dogs or don’t like them), and the safety and enjoyment of other dogs on the trail . Truffles doesn’t love other dogs—people no problem—but she doesn’t like to be rushed by an enthusiastic pup.

Pawsome hikes near you

Within two-three hours of Cincinnati, we’ve experienced some amazing hikes. Here are some of our favorites:

Hocking Hills State Park

We loved visiting Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park near Athens, OH. Pet-friendly and beautiful scenery make this a “must-do.”

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is dog-friendly everywhere except in the cave itself. You’ll have to leave your pet at the hotel or forgo a tour of the cave if you have your dog with you. That being said, there are great trails for walking and hiking, making Mammoth Cave National Park a great place to visit with your dog.

A nice place for a little photoshoot too!

Carter Caves State Park

You can see four natural bridges in one day at just one park when you hike at Carter Caves State Park. It’s a beautiful location that was an unexpected surprise nestled only two hours from Cincinnati.

If you love hiking with your dog, or if you’ve never tried it before, you can enjoy these great hikes above safely with our tips.

Do you know a great hike within two-four hours of Cincinnati? Share them in the comments below.

Full-time dog mom and traveler, Shae Pepper is on a 5 year, 50 state road trip with her husband, Stephen Pepper and their dog, Truffles. You can follow their adventures on their website, No Home Just Roam

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