Excerpts from HOWTO HIKE WITH DOGS AT OUR NATIONAL PARKS - EVEN THEY'RE NOT ALLOWED ON THE TRAIL

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Samuel Champlain guided a French expedition that landed here on September 5, 1604. In claiming the land for France, Champlain, noting the bare, rocky mountain humps, called his discovery “Isles des Monts Desert.” In the Gilded Age of the end of the 19th century tycoons like the Rockefellers, As- tors, Fords, and Vanderbilts all built lavish summer estates on Mount Desert Island. One, George B. Dorr, devoted 43 years and much of his family fortune to preserving the island and gave 6,000 acres to the federal government for safekeeping. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson made Acadia, originally named Lafayette, the first national park east of the Mississippi River.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Almost nothing! Acadia National Park is one of the crown jewels in the National Park Service and dogs will not bark in dissent. Only a handful of park trails are off-limits to dogs and several of these, such as the celebrated Precipice Trail up the east side of Champlain Mountain, involve insurmountable ladders or vertical climbs anyway. More than 45 miles of carriage roads ripple across Mount Desert Island, constructed by park patron John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who was no great fan of the newfangled horseless carriage. The rustic broken stone roads were hand-built between 1913 and 1940 and are the best examples of the construction technique still in use in America. In addi- tion to the irregularly spaced granite slab guardrails known colloquially as “Rockefeller’s Teeth,” there are 16 stone-faced bridges - each unique in design.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
There are 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads in the park where dogs are permitted; Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds allow pets. 

Much of your dog’s hiking will take place around more than a dozen small mountain peaks that were blazed by early settlers and later incorporated into a master trail plan for the island that began in 1891. The tallest is the 1,530-foot Cadillac Mountain that is the highest point on the Atlantic Ocean north of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sunrise hikes here will be the first illuminated in the United States. The Jordan Pond Nature Trail is a mile-long loop leading to views of glacial mountains reflecting in the pond waters. The rounded mountains framing the pond, known as the Bubbles, can be climbed on short trails.
Some of the most rewarding canine hiking in Acadia takes place on the headlands overlooking the ocean. The Great Head Trail loops across Sand Beach and most people go right at the head of the loop. But going left into the maritime forest saves the spectacular coastal views until the end. In the western reaches of the park across Somes Sound - America’s only fjord - expect to find far fewer paw prints on the trail.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Bar Harbor is the main town on Mount Desert Island, squeezed between Acadia National Park and the Atlantic Ocean. In the 1800s wealthy vacationers began claiming homesites on the water but private landowners have provided a sliver of land for the public to enjoy the for over 100 years. The curvilinear Shore Path is a gravel walkway, starting at the Town Pier, absolutely level and ideal for strolling. When the waves are gentle there are numerous spots for your dog to drop down and play in the tidal pools of Frenchman Bay.

ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Some 300 million years ago a great sea covered this slice of Utah setting the stage for one of the plan- et’s greatest concentration of natu- ral arches after it evaporated. As the salt bed settled and shifted domes of sandstone were uplifted that have since eroded into a collection of over 2,000 arches. It takes a three- foot opening to be called an arch but Arches National Park boasts some salmon-colored Entrada Sandstone and buff-colored Navajo Sandstone bridges that stretch the length of a football field. The Arches have been a national monument since the 1920s with shifting boundaries over the years bringing new arches under protection. One of President Lyndon Johnson’s final acts in office was to substantially increase the Arches before it ultimately became a national park.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Most of the trails in Arches National Park are short foot paths that lead from the parking lots to featured arches like the Windows, Landscape Arch and the wondrously situated Delicate Arch the symbol of Utah’s license plate). If you are visiting the park in cooler weather you can see many of these arches while your dog waits in the car. Hardier day hikes await in the Devils Garden Area.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are allowed only on park roads and in parking lots. Dogs are not allowed on trails or in the backcountry. Dogs can stay in Devil’s Garden Campground, the only campground in the park.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
So how can my dog get up close and personal with a sculpted rock arch outside the national park? Well, how about a hike to the world’s fifth longest natural arch and America’s third longest? Just six miles to the east of the entrance to Arches National Park, on the opposite side of the town of Moab and up Scenic Route 128, is the trailhead for Negro Bill Canyon. Back in the 1870s William Granstaff, the product of several races, ran cattle in the canyon while he split up possession of the Spanish Valley with his erstwhile partner, a French-Canadian trapper known only as “Frenchie.” Granstaff high-tailed out of the territory in 1881 when the law accused him of illegally selling liquor to local Indians. All he left behind was his name.

A little more than two miles up into the canyon, pressed back against rock wall, is multi-hued Morning Glory Natural Bridge that stretches 243 feet across a pool of water. The packed-sand Negro Bill Canyon Trail crosses a shallow-flowing stream many times on its journey up the canyon and you may need your dog’s nose to stay on course from time to time in the richly vegetated canyon. Recent rains can transform the water hole under the arch into an ideal doggie swimming pool.

In this part of Utah you can find arches that are not even in protected lands, just hanging out on the roadside. About 24 miles south of Moab on the east side of Route 191 stands Wilson Arch, named for an early pioneer who grubstaked a cabin near here. You can just park by the side of the road and scramble up the rock face with your dog to stand under the 46-foot high sandstone arch.

BADLANDS NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Badlands get their name not from being good places for outlaws to hide out in but from the pros- pect of dispirited pioneers having to maneuver wagons through the eroded clay pinnacles and coulees. In addition to these awe-inspiring rock formations the national park protects a vibrant mixed-grass prai- rie and some of the world’s richest fossil beds. Where bison, prairie dogs, bighorn sheep and America’s most endangered mammal, the black-footed ferret, live today sa- ber-toothed cats and rhino once patrolled.

What Your Dog Will Miss
The backbone of the park is the Badlands Loop Road with its series of overlooks of the alien landscape. Hiking outside of the wilderness area is not a major feature of Badlands National Park, featuring mostly short interpretive trails. So your dog will not miss a whole lot.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are prohibited from hiking trails and back- country areas, including the Badlands Wilderness Area. Dogs can stay in the campgrounds and hike anywhere that is open to motor vehicles.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Nothing nearby can exactly replicate the otherworldly experience of the Badlands but there is plenty of room for your dog to roam just next door in the Buffalo Gap National Grassland. The national grassland is no slouch when it comes to spectacular geological formations and is a wonderland for rockhounding. There is only one modest recreation area with a developed trail through the wispy grass prairie; wooden posts lead the way. Two-track dirt jeep roads also penetrate into land of badland formations and prairie dogs, some of which will lead you to the shadow of the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.

Your dog can experience some of America’s most strik- ing badlands formations just across the state line in the Nebraska panhandle at the Oglala National Grassland. To give your dog a chance to explore these unique lands of sculpted rock, head south from the Dakotas to the lesser- known badlands of Toadstool Geologic Park where the re- lentless tag-team of water and wind have carved fanciful rock designs into the stark hills.
In the American badlands wooden posts do the duty of wayfinding.

The “toadstools” form when underlying soft clay stone erodes faster than the hard sandstone that caps it. A marked, mile-long interpretive loop leads you on an educational adventure where your dog is welcome on the hard rock trail but can also explore off the path for close-up looks in the gullies at fossil bone fragments that lace the rocks and 30-million year-old footprints pre- served in the stone. For extended hikes, Toad- stool Park connects to the world-renowned Hud- son-Meng Bison Bone- yard via a three-mile trail. This archeological marvel seeks to unravel the mystery of how over 600 bison died nearly 10,000 years ago in an area about the size of a football stadium. Human predation is the leading suspect.

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
The Park
The Rio Grande River es- tablishes an international border of over 1,000 miles between the United States and Mexico and Big Bend National Park includes 118 miles of that boundary. This is the largest chunk of protected Chihua- huan Desert in the United States - the park is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. More than 450 bird species are known to take refuge in the remote mountains and rugged canyons of Big Bend.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Big Bend offers some 200 miles of hiking trails from hardscrabble desert treks to twenty miles of exploration in the Chisos Mountains that rise to 7,832 feet in elevation atop Emory Peak. Poking in and out of the canyons of the Rio Grande in a canoe will be left to non-dog owners as well. The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive is the marquee touring road in Big Bend but your dog will have to sit out the short walks to the historic ranch sites on the route and the picturesque Santa Elena Canyon.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the Rio Grande River. Your dog can go only where your car can go.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Texas may be the most massive of the Lower 48 states but scarcely three percent of the land is publicly owned. Big Bend represents the largest expanse of roadless public lands in the Lone Star State and neigh- boring Big Bend Ranch State Park is not welcoming to dogs either. On the state park lands dogs are not permitted more than 400 yards from a campsite or a designated road although your best trail companion can trot on the Closed Canyon Trail and the Hoodoos Trail along Route 170 that hugs the international border near the Rio Grande River.

So when you bring your dog to Big Bend it is essentially the national park or nothing. Luckily your dog need not be trapped in the car during your visit. While there are over 100 miles of paved roads for touring there are even more miles of dirt roads criss-crossing the 800,000 acres that can double as hiking trails for dogs. High-clearance vehicles can access the unimproved “Primitive Roads” that run through canyons and dry washes. While these hikes on dirt roads with your dog will not show up as highlights in the park brochure they can lead to the remains of ancient settlements and centuries-old cemeteries. Some of these axle- challenging wagon trails to seek out include the Old Ore Road north of the Rio Grande Village, Old Maverick Road off the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and the Boquillas Canyon Road.

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Although largely unknown, no other canyon in North America combines the narrow opening, sheer walls, and startling depths offered by the Black Canyon of the Gun- nison. The uplifted hard rock is being gouged by an energetic river dropping an average of 96 feet per mile in the park; at its narrowest the canyon walls are a mere 40 feet apart. The gorge earns its intimidat- ing name by experiencing scarcely a half hour of sunlight a day deep inside its walls.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Not very much if you are not planning any adventurous below- the-rim hiking on steep, unmain- tained trails or running the river.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not allowed on the inner canyon trails or in the wilderness areas.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Visitors absorb the Black Canyon from short nature trails that lead to the edges of the rocky cliffs that plunge a half-mile down to the Gunnison River and your dog can hike them all. These include the Rim Rock Trail and the Cedar Point Nature Trail on the south rim and the the Chasm View Nature Trail on the north rim. This is flat, easy-going canine hiking but there is little in the way of shade among the desert-like scrub vegetation so take precautions on hot summer scorchers. Three dams downstream from the national park have tamed the Gunnison River. The first was the Blue Mesa Dam and when it was completed in 1945 the reservoir it created became the largest body of water in Colorado. Each of the three dams supports a recreation area that has been cobbled into the Curecanti National Recreation Area, administered by the National Park Service.

Dogs are allowed on all the park trails, several of which deliver the same experience of sheer canyon walls as the neighboring national park. The sporty
Mesa Creek Trail at Crystal Reservoir is one of those. The unique geology of the Black Canyon is interpreted along the Dillon Pinnacles Trail at Blue Mesa
Reservoir which are eroded volcanic souvenirs of the Precambrian age 1.7 billion years ago. The Curecanti Needle, a 700-foot triangular rock rising from the canyon floor, is the star at Morrow Point Reservoir.

Just north of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is Grand Mesa, the largest flattop mountain in the world. The top des- tination here is the Crag Crest National Recreation Trail, a 10-mile circle trail that climbs to over 11,000 feet on a boulder-strewn crest afford- ing great perches for views of alpine lakes. The lower elevations drop among quaking aspen and Englemann spruce for lively meadow walks and refreshing canine swimming holes.
Down in the Black Canyon is one place your dog won’t be hiking.

BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
The Park
“Helluva place to lose a cow.” That is what homesteader Ebenezer Bryce said when he brought his wife to run cattle in the Paria Valley in the 1870s. The eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau had eroded into a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters filled with spires and windows and limestone formations in colors that Crayola would be hard pressed to duplicate with its largest box of crayons. The dark green Ponderosa pines accent the vibrant colors in the park even more dramatically.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Unfortunately some of the most unforgettable hiking in the National Park System is off-limits to your dog. The Under-the-Rim Trail, the Peek-A-Boo Trail and others that wind through the stunning pink Claron limestone spires known as “hoodoos” do not permit dogs. Dogs also can not trot the Bristlecone Loop among the oldest living trees on earth, even if the Bristlecones in Bryce are comparable arboreal children at only 1,600 years young compared to their ancient cousins found in California and Nevada.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are allowed only in campgrounds, parking lots and paved roads.You can also walk your dog along the short trail near Bryce Canyon Lodge between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point; it is also paved.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
The Red Canyon has been called the “most photographed place in Utah,” which is quite a boast when Bryce Canyon is a mere 13 miles down the road. But Red Canyon backs up its tough talk with Ponderosa pine trees and sculpted rock formations rising out of brilliant red soil.
Bryce Canyon is not the only place in the Utah desert to enjoy a multi-chromatic canine hike.

Their numbers are not as intense as in the national park but there are the same pinnacles, hoodoos and spires to be seen along the Pink Ledges Trail and the Pho- to Trail and the Tunnel Trail. The Red Canyon Trail System through the valley that is cut into the side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau also has longer explorations that accommodate bicycles, horses and ATVs.

On assignment for the National Geographic Society in 1949 explorers were so entranced by the Utah desert that they named one basin filled with sedi-
mentary rock pipes and geysers after the Kodak film they were using to capture the explosion of colors - Kodachrome Basin. In 1962 when the area became a state park it was called Kodachrome Basin State Park. The park’s splendors unfurl along a series of hard-scrabble trails through the box canyons and rock formations that can be completed in less than an hour. The park star, the Panorama Trail, is pocked with side trail adventures that push its distance out to almost twice its 2.9-mile length. With dozens of sand pipes soaring as high as 170 feet Koda- chrome Basin State Park will have your dog thinking it is a hike over the hills in the more renowned Bryce Canyon.

CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Canyonlands is about as primi- tive as the national park system gets and that is just referencing the acces- sible Islands in the Sky and Needles districts. A third district, The Maze, is so remote visitors are advised to be “prepared for self-sufficiency and the proper equipment or gear for self-rescue.” The Islands in the Sky is characterized by canyons carved into the Colorado Plateau by the Green and Colorado rivers. There is no hand of man controlling the water flow and during seasons of high snowmelt the Colorado pro- duces the most violent whitewater in North America through the park. The Needles is pockmarked with massive buttes and isolated pin- nacles. Desert troubadour Edward Abbey tried to put the majesty of the Canyonlands into words when he waxed rhapsodic that it is “the most weird, wonderful, magical place on earth—there is nothing else like it anywhere.”

What Your Dog Will Miss
At the Islands in the Sky District there are several easy trails along the top of the mesa to photograph destinations; in the Needles District there are a quartet of short, self-guided trails that can be accomplished with your dog in your vehicle on cool days. Aside from those there are hundreds of adventurous hiking miles that drop into the canyons to the Green and Colorado rivers that dogs will also never know.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Activities for dogs are “very limited.” No hiking trails, no backcountry and dogs can not even ride in four-wheel drive vehicles on undeveloped roads. Dogs can stay in campgrounds and walk on paved roads and that is it.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Legend has it that cowboys once herded wild mustangs onto to the top of a mesa 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and blocked off their escape across a narrow neck of land with branches and brush, thus creating a natural corral. One time the horses in the corral were forgotten about and died of thirst while looking at the un- accessible river far below. So in 1959 when more than 5,000 acres, most of which are on the mesa top, were designated for a state park the incident was dredged up and Dead Horse Point State Park was born.

While your dog will never trot the trails of Canyonlands National Park and look straight down 1000 feet at the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers, she can get the same kind of experience next door in Dead Horse Point State Park. Two loops, connected by the Visitor Center, skirt the edges of the rim of the rock peninsula. Numerous short spur trails poke out to promontories overlooking the canyonlands (most are unfenced and provide no protection for overcurious canines). This is sparse desert land on top of the mesa and during a hot summer day there is little shade and no natural drinking water on the trails for thirsty dogs. All told there are ten miles of paved and primitive trails at Dead Horse Point, most on hard, rocky paths.

A half-mile spur on the western side of the Dead Horse Point mesa leads to an overlook of Shafer Can- yon. Across the canyon you can see an open plain that was used to film the famous final scene in the movie Thelma & Louise when Susan Sarandon drives a Thunderbird convertible over a cliff. Although there are wrecked automobiles in Shafer Canyon, they were placed there by the Bureau of Land Management to shore up the river bank. The wreckage from the movie was airlifted out of the canyon by helicopter.

CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Capitol Reef is the youngest of Utah’s five national parks, signed into existence by Richard Nixon on December 18, 1971. There were no paved roads into the area - known as Wayne Wonderland National Monument - until Route 24 was completed in 1962. The “reef” is a formation geologists call a mono- cline that is a steplike fold in the earth’s rocky crust. The park’s Wa- terpocket Fold rambles for over 100 miles, exposing alternating layers of brilliantly colored sandstone. The white Navajo Sandstone domes atop many of the cliffs along the Fremont River are rounded and look enough like the outline of the United States Capitol to give the park its name.

What Your Dog Will Miss
In the middle of Utah’s national park quintet Capitol Reef offers visitors willing to navigate unmaintained roads much of which is found in the Beehive State’s other parks: slot canyons, colorful cliffs, sculpted rocks and natural bridge arches. There are a dozen or so day hikes along Utah Highway 24 and the
short Scenic Drive - the only paved routes through the park. Several, including trips to the deep canyon of Capitol Gorge, the serpentine Goosenecks cut into the gorge by the Fremont River and the slickrock of Sunset Point, can be completed with your dog in the car.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails.The only trail in the park where dogs can walk is the short, level path along the Fremont River between the campground and the visitor center. Your dog can also enjoy the historic orchards of Fruita and help pick fruit in season around the restored Gifford Farm House.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
As Capitol Reef National Park rolls southward it pierces the two million acres of the Dixie National Forest, the largest national forest in Utah, and then the 1.9 million acres of the adjacent Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument. There are hundreds and hundreds of miles of marked trails and wilderness here to hike with your dog. Scenic Byway 12 runs south out of Capitol Reef through this mass of federally managed wilderness. First the winding two-lane road climbs Boulder Mountain to altitudes over 9,000 feet. The mountain itself reaches its peak at 11,313 feet on top of Blue Bell Knob, making this the highest forested plateau in North America. Innumerable forest roads and alpine trails are waiting for you and your dog through groves of quaking aspen, the Utah state tree.

As Scenic Byway 12 rolls into the Escalante Canyon it descends into hardrock canyon country. The Calf Creek Recreation Area, a Bureau of Land Management property, is the jumping off point for a 5.5-mile round-trip on a sandy trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls that spills 126 feet down a slickrock face into a cool, shady pool. The clear waters of Calf Creek have supported settlement for one thousand years and you can see pre-historic art sites and an ancient Anasazi peoples granary along the way.

Nearby the Escalante River Trailhead provides access to the “crookedest river in the world,” as some of have tabbed it. In the dry months you can hike along with your dog can hike right through the water under sandstone walls. Destinations include the Phipps Wash that leads to the 100-foot wide Phipps Arch and the smaller Maverick Natural Bridge. Back- packers can take your dog on an overnight trip 13 miles to the Escalante Natural Bridge and the Escalante Natural Arch a short distance further.

CARLSBAD CAVERNS NATIONAL PARK
The Park
An ancient inland ocean from 250 million years ago evaporated and left behind some 300 limestone caves in a fossil reef of the Guadalupe Mountains, of which 119 are preserved in the national park. Three are show caves, the most famous being Carlsbad Caverns, the fifth largest subterranean chamber in North America with a ceiling 255 feet high. A cowboy named Jim White started exploring the caves with a handmade wire ladder in 1898 when he was a teenager. Despite his enthusiasm he could not convince the locals that there was anything to come see underground for over ten years. That was more
than forty million visitors ago. The evening flight of Mexican free-tailed bats is the most famous in America although their numbers have declined drastically in recent years.

What Your Dog Will Miss
The underground displays are the star attraction at Carlsbad Cav- erns. The park does have three main hiking trails in the backcountry above ground that poke into the 33,000 acres of designated wilderness in the Chihuahuan Desert. Your dog will miss seeing the historic remains of guano mining around the caves in the unforgiving, shadeless desertscape of these hikes.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not allowed on any trails or on any off roads or inside the cave.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Your dog won’t howl for the loss of Chihuahuan Desert hiking at Carlsbad Caverns with the 1.1 million acres of the Lincoln National Forest next door. The land is spread across three tracts and includes rambles among cool pines where elevations rise to 11,500 feet. Days of canine adventure await in any of the tracts; many trailheads are easily located just off main roads. For a remote corner of the Southwest the Lincoln National Forest has provided American culture with two lasting icons. As law and order sorted itself out in 1878 and 1879, the Lincoln County Wars agitated America’s largest county. A central figure in the conflict was a 17-year old hired gun named William Bonney. Imprisoned for extracting revenge on a sheriff’s posse, Billy the Kid was detained in Lincoln before breaking out of jail and killing two guards. Bonney was soon hunted down and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett.

The entire town of Lincoln - some 150 strong - is today a National Historic Landmark. You and your dog can walk through the one-street town, several blocks long, and study the historically preserved buildings that include the merchandise store owned by murdered Englishman John Tunstull and the courthouse where Billy the Kid made good his daring escape. After your walking tour you can pile the dog back in the car and take a driving tour on the 84-mile loop around Lincoln dubbed the Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway.

The Lincoln National Forest became famous around the world in May 1950 after an orphaned 5-pound bear cub was discovered clinging to a tree in a forest fire. The two-month old survivor was enlisted as the living symbol for Smokey the Bear, a cartoon caricature created six years earlier to preserve forests for use in World War II. While Smokey lived in the National Zoo in Washington D.C., he reportedly grew to be the second most beloved character in America, behind only Santa Claus. When Smokey died in 1976 he was returned to his home in Capitan, New Mexico and buried in a grave marked by a stone and plaque.

CONGAREE NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Congaree National Park protects the largest contiguous area of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the United States. More than 52 million acres of floodplain forests have been decimated in the southeastern United States in the past century making Congaree’s 2,000 acres of virgin pine, tupelo and bald cypress special indeed. The park’s forests harbor 20 state or national champion trees including loblolly pines, hickories and bald cypress. Newspaperman Harry Hampton began championing the protection of the water-logged forest in the 1950s. His campaign gained urgency when lumber prices rose in the 1960s making the hard- to-reach trees attractive to the Santee River Cypress Lumber Company that owned much of the land. An energetic grass roots effort brought federal protection in 1976.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Nothing!

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Leashed dogs are permit- ted on all park trails.That is not a misprint.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
The 150-foot high canopy of Congaree National Park is one of the highest deciduous roofs in the world. The marquee trail is a 2.4- mile Boardwalk Loop that lifts hikers above the flooding of the Congaree River that occurs an average of ten times a year. Underneath the boards are cypress knees protruding above the water line, mysterious swamp trademarks whose purpose is not entirely known.

Beyond the boardwalk the Congaree trail system pushes deeper into the old growth forest on wide, flat and almost always uncrowded trails. These loops provide trail time of several hours of easy going for your dog. You are never far from a waterway that lubricates the park and there is even a marked canoe trail that explores the meandering Cedar Creek. There are more than twenty miles of tail-friendly trails available to your dog in the park.

CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK
The Park
One day about 7,500 years ago volcanic Mount Mazama erupted in an explosion scientists estimate was 42 times more powerful than Mount St. Helens in 1980. The mountain collapsed into itself forming a nearly symmetrical crater known as a caldera. Over the next seven millenia the crater filled with snowmelt from the 40 feet of snow the Cascades receive each year until the lake became the deepest in what is now the United States. Currently Crater Lake measures 1,943 feet deep. It is fed by no streams and water levels are affected only by evaporation and annual snowmelts. With an average depth of 1,148 feet it is the third deepest by average in the world. The brilliant blue color of the water and its dramatic setting cried out for making Crater Lake America’s sixth national park. A century later Oregon, despite an embarrassment of natural wonders, has no other national park.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Dogs can ride along in your vehicle around the 33-mile Rim Drive and get out at the observation points to stare down into the caldera but that is about it. Dogs can not use the Cleetwood Cove Trail that descends 700 feet to the water’s edge nor can they hike the steep trail in the other direction to the top of Mount Scott, at 8,929 feet the highest point in the national park.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are allowed only in developed areas; not on park trails or in the backcountry.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
While Crater Lake receives all of the national publicity Oregonian outdoor enthusiasts flock to the shores of Diamond Lake, a short jaunt to the north, fives times as often. John Diamond, an early Oregon pioneer by way of Ireland and New York, first spotted the 3,015-acre lake in 1852 after summiting the nearby peak that also bears his name. The result of glacial ice melt, the ancient lake is thought to have built up immunity to vaporization by volcanic eruptions thanks to an insulating layer of accumulated pumice on its floor from minor explosions.

In stark contrast to Crater Lake the waters of Diamond Lake average only 20 feet deep, shallow enough for a comfortable doggie swim in the summer.
A paved path circumnavigates the lake for 11.5 miles but if you don’t want to dodge the bicycles with your dog you can detour into the foot-traffic-only meadows surrounding Silent Creek, the lake’s outlet to the north. The National Forest Service maintains four campgrounds around Diamond Lake.
Flanking Diamond Lake to the east and west are the volcanic shield mountains of Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen. Dog-friendly trails lead up each prominent protrusion but the final climb to the distinctive pin- nacle of 9,184-foot Mount Thielsen, known familiarly as the “Lightning Rod of the Cascades,” requires technical climbing that will disqualify your dog from tagging the actual summit. On the positive side you meet up with the Pacific Crest Trail on the Mount Thielsen slopes.

CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Raise your hand if you knew that America’s first national park of the 21st Century was created in..............Cleveland? To the first people who came here 12,000 years ago the Cuyahoga was the “crooked river.” Its steep valley walls inhibited settlement as easterners poked into the region in the late 1700s. But a navigable water link between Lake Erie and the Ohio River was a priority in the early American Canal Age and in 1832 the Ohio & Erie Canal
became a reality. The canal was put out of business by the Great Floodof 1913 and the Cuyahoga Valley was left to recreational purposes. The 33,000 acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga River were protected as a national recreation area so the heavy lifting for creating the park was done before its designation as a national park in 2000.

What Your Dog Will Miss
As befits its history as a recreation destination, Cuyahoga is a national park that permits dogs on its trails. It doesn’t have the feel of the grand American national parks but instead evokes a comfortable familiarity on the trails that are squeezed between highways, farmlands and neighborhoods.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are only banned from park buildings and boarding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
The main foot passage through the park is the nearly 20 miles of the Towpath Trail along the route of the historic canal. Ten trailheads make it easy to hike the crushed limestone path in biscuit-size chunks as it traverses meadows and forests and the remnants of locks and villages. Another long-distance foot- path through the park is the Buckeye Trail that circles the entire state of Ohio for over 1200 miles. About 33 miles of the blue-blazed pathway wander the ravines and ridges of the valley.

Some of the best out- ings with your dog at the park are in the north end of the Cuyahoga Valley, in the Bradford Reservation. A five-mile all-purpose trail
traverses the Tinkers Creek Gorge area, exploring Ohio’s most spec- tacular canyon. The gorge is a National Natural Landmark, noted for its virgin hemlock forests. Short detours off the main trail include an easy walk to Bridal Veil Falls and the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail. Other highlights include the dark and mysterious 2.2-mile ramble around the Ledges (from the Happy Day camp) and a short 1.25-mile loop through the Brandywine Gorge that takes your dog to the lip of Brandywine Falls and 160 feet down to the water level. For open-air hiking sign your dog up for a trip through the signature rolling Ohio countryside encountered on the Horse- shoe Pond/Tree Farm Trail, a nearly three mile loop through meadows and around farmland. Brandywine Falls is a Cuyahoga Valley star.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
The Park
Continental America’s largest national park is an unforgiving collage of sand dunes, salt flats, bare mountains and badlands. The lowest point in North America is here at 282 feet below sea level in Badwater Basin. This is also the hottestand driest of all the national parks. Death Valley first received federal
protection as a national monument in 1933, almost a century after it picked up its name from prospectors seeking a short cut to the northern California gold fields. Miners searched for precious ore here but never found anything other than borax which was hauled out of the valley in the 1880s for use in deter- gents and cosmetics by twenty-mule teams pulling the largest wagons ever designed to be transported by draft animals.

What Your Dog Will Miss
There really aren’t that many hiking trails for your dog to miss out on; most of the hiking through Death Valley is trailless. Since dogs can hike on roads your trail buddy can get the Death Valley experience on backcountry dirt roads, many of which are barely two scars scratched into the desert. Some of the best lead into remote canyons like Echo Canyon Road, which features a two-mile canyon hike to a natural arch, and Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road that picks its way through scoured badlands for three miles. The twisting narrows of the Titus Canyon Road serve up stunning Death Valley scenery and views of the park’s local herd of bighorn sheep. For canine hiking at higher elevations scout out the Chloride City Road.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs can stay in all the park campgrounds but can not go on any hiking trails or into the wilderness.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
If you have ever watched a Hollywood western or the opening to the Lone Ranger you will recognize the Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, just west of Death Valley National Park, as you hike with your dog. The Alabama Hills consist of rounded, weathered granite boulders placed across a desert flatlands that form a sharp contrast with the sharply sculptured ridges of the nearby Sierra mountains. These majestic backdrops and rugged rock formations began attracting the attention of Hollywood, 212 miles to the west, in the 1920s.

You can hike with your dog along Movie Flat Road, a wide, dusty dirt cut through the Alabama Hills that is one of the most recognizable movie sets in Hollywood history. Beginning with Tom Mix in the silent era, every major Western star raced down the road on horseback at one time or another. Roy Rogers appeared here in his first starring role in Under Western Stars and Bill Boyd, known on the screen as Hopalong Cassidy, filmed so many roles in Lone Pine that he moved here. Although the golden age for Lone Pine has gone the way of the Hollywood western, film crews occasionally still ap-
pear. Bad Day at Black Rock (Spencer Tracy/Robert Ryan) used the area to build an entire town along the railroad tracks in 1955 and, more recently, Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon battled giant earthworms in the Alabama Hills in Tremors. So keep an eye out for movie crews. Your dog may be the next big star.

DENALI NATIONAL PARK
The Park
“Denali” is a native Athabaskan word meaning “the high one” or “the great one.” Either way Mount McKinley, the star of the park, certainly fits the bill. At 20,237 feet the massif is more than 4,000 feet higher than any of its neighboring peaks. From some angles you can see 18,000 feet from the base to the
peak - the largest of any mountain on earth. The main summit was first scaled in 1913 and tagging its top remains one of mountaineering’s great prizes. More than 1,000 people try each year, about 600 make it and over the years more than 100 have never come home.

A gold prospector named William Dickey called it Mount McKinley when William McKinley, the last veteran of the Civil War to serve in the Executive Office, was running for President in 1896. The national park, with more than six million acres, assumed the native name and over the years the mountain is called that as often as not.

What Your Dog Will Miss
The chance to see America’s only 20,000-foot mountain, mostly. The park has only a single 92-mile road and only the first 15 miles of that are open to unpermitted private vehicles. The only place along that stretch to glimpse the continent’s tallest peak is on the Mountain Vista Trail where dogs are barred. Only the top few thousand feet are visible at this point, 72 miles away so human visitors are only seeing a fraction more on this trail than your dog back in the car. After the Savage River at the 15-mile mark the Park Road trundles on unpaved (due to permafrost concerns) and plied mainly by shuttle buses. This is a chance to get out and hike with your dog in the great Alaskan outdoors up the road. You won’t be able to hike far enough to ever see the iconic mountain (the first base to summit view does not come until the 62-mile mark) but the scenery and lack of activity (save for the shuttle buses) are rewards in themselves. The two paths where your dog is allowed to walk are the Bike Path and the Roadside Trail which parallels the Park Road for almost two miles from the visitor center to the park headquarters. This pleasant ramble explores a boreal forest of white and black spruce with groves of quaking aspen sprinkled in for color. It won’t make a national park highlight film but is more leg stretching than your dog is used to in America’s national parks.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not permitted on the park trails (with two exceptions) or in the wilderness, which com- prises over 95 percent of the park.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
On the eastern boundary of Denali National Park is Denali State Park. At 325,000 acres the Alaska state property is dwarfed by its larger neighbor but still almost half the size of Rhode Island. The views of Mount McKinley from the state park are sublime - Alaskan officials have even provided telescopes that are pointed directly at the hulking mountain. You can hike anywhere with your dog in Denali State Park and once you get into the backcountry your dog can run off leash while under voice control.

On the northern edge of Denali sits Bus 142, the abandoned Fair- banks City Transit System bus that Christopher McCandless starved to death inside while attempting to survive in the Alaskan wilderness in 1992. The incident was popularized in a book by Jon Krakauer and a movie by Sean Penn, Into the Wild. Bus 142 sits beside the Stampede Trail that was begun as a mining trail in the 1930s. The trail was upgraded in the 1960s but the road was never finished (the abandoned bus had been used to transport workers). The Stampede Trail is accessed at mile- post 251.1 of the George Parks Highway (Alaska Route 3), two miles north of the borough of Healy. After driving as far as possible on the Stampede Trail the pilgrimage to the backcountry “Magic Bus” site can be made by backpacking in with your dog.

EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
The Park
The Everglades is America’s tropical wilderness. The original wetlands were once five times as large as the area the park now pro- tects, disgorging water from Lake Okeechobee in a slow-moving dis- charge that gave rise to its descrip- tion as a “River of Grass.” Still the largest wilderness east of the Mis- sissippi River with 1.5 million acres, the unique Everglades ecosystem is so irreplaceable it has been declared an International Biosphere Reserve. That mangrove ecosystem is the largest in the western hemisphere and countless animals and birds exist only in the forests and swamps of southern Florida, including the American crocodile and the elusive state animal, the Florida panther.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Everglades trails explore slight rises in the “river of grass” that have developed into tree islands known as hammocks. The two most prominent areas for hiking are the pinelands of Long Pine Key which harbors some 200 species of sub-tropical plants and the coastal prairie around the Flamingo Visitor Center at the end of the park road. Your dog will also not be able to enjoy the park canoe trails.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs can be in the campgrounds and picnic areas, on roadways that carry “public vehicular traffic” and on maintained grounds around public facilities. And dogs can ride on your boat.That’s it.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
A sliver of the south Florida swamp forest twenty miles long by five miles wide has been cut out and served as the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park. Dogs are welcome on the trails of “the Amazon of North America,” as they are in all Florida state parks. That includes the half-mile Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk that stabs into the interior of the world’s only Bald Cypress-Royal Palm forest.

Another chunk of the Florida wetlands open to your dog south of Interstate 75 is the Picayune Strand State Forest. Most of the forest is the remnant of the Golden Gate Estates, a 57,000-acre post-World War II residential development that was planned to be the largest in America. Prospective buyers were flown over the site during the dry season to scout lots, unaware that nothing could ever be developed since the land would be underwater in the summer flood season. Thus was born the notorious “selling swampland in Florida” scam.

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
The Park
The Great Northern Railway was the driving force in the creation of Glacier National Park, building hotels and chalets in the majestic Rocky Mountains they called the “Crown of the Continent.” For many years the railroad provided the only access to the national park. Today many of those historic lodges have been preserved as landmarks. Unfortunately, the namesake gla- ciers can not be similarly managed. Back in the middle of the 1800s there were believed to be 150 gla- ciers in the parks; today there are only 25 active glaciers and their continued existence is in extreme jeopardy.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Over 700 miles of trails. There will be no day hikes for your dog along the signature Going-to-the-Sun Road that is the only road that traverses the park. When construction began in 1921 this was the first project undertaken by the National Park Service to cater to the new breed of automobile tourist. It took
twelve years to carve the two-lane road 53 miles across the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There won’t be any rides for your dog on the vintage 1930s-era park tour buses known as Red Jammers either.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not allowed on any park trails (save for the short paved bike path between Apgar and West Glacier when it is is snow- free) and they can not enjoy the shores around the park’s 130 named lakes. Dogs can ride in your boat however. They can also stay in frontcountry campgrounds and attend your picnics.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Abutting Glacier National Park on the Canadian side of the border is Waterton Lakes National Park. The two parks have been co-joined into the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park that is the first ever such effort. The two parks share much of the same stunning Rocky Mountain scenery and wildlife. In fact the only thing you will see in Waterton National Park that you won’t see in Glacier National Park is dogs on the trail.

Canada has the same crush of summer tourists in its national parks as the United States. Canada has the same concerns for the safety and welfare of wildlife in its national parks as the United States. And yet dogs are welcome on the trails in all of Canada’s national parks - it is considered such a natural activity that the parks mostly don’t even address the issue. Waterton actually pre-dates Glacier as a national park. It was created in 1895 - the fourth park set aside by the Canadian Federation in its first three decades of existence. Upper Waterton Lake is the deepest lake in the Canadian Rockies and the star of the park where the Prince of Wales railway hotel was built as a resort in 1927. Waterton is the smallest of the Canaidan Rockies national parks and
the country’s only park that preserves fescue grasslands like those that blanket the foothills.

Waterton Lakes National Park is laced with easy-to-complete day hikes below and above the treeline that access waterfalls in the Red Rock Canyon and secluded lakes beyond the Akamina Parkway. Mount Blackiston is the park’s roof at 9,550 feet. The 2.5-mile Lineham Creek Trail runs along its southern slopes and experienced scramblers can ascend the rubble rock to the top. Some Waterton trails like the Lakeshore Trail connect to Glacier National Park - remember not to allow your dog to cross into that forbidden land.

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
The Park
The sheer audaciousness of the Grand Canyon has left many a visi- tor fumbling for words to describe it. When Theodore Roosevelt visited as President in 1903 he took his best oratorical shot by saying, “The Grand Canyon fills me with awe. It is beyond comparison - beyond description.” He concluded by stating that the handiwork of the Colorado River is “the one great sight which every American should see.” Legislation to make the Grand Canyon a national park had existed since 1882 but it was not until 1919, mere weeks after Roosevelt’s death at the age of 60, that Woodrow Wil- son signed the paperwork to make the Grand Canyon America’s 15th national park.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Unless your dog is sporting a convincing mule costume, any hik- ing in the canyon will be missed. One place your dog may not have to miss is Shoshone Point, a per- mit-only section of the canyon that is reserved for weddings and the like. Check with the park of- fice and if there are no special events scheduled you can hike with your dog along the one-mile dirt road through Ponderosa pines and through high country meadows to one of the most photographed edges of the Grand Canyon.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are not allowed on trails below the rim at the Grand Canyon but there is a surprising amount of canine hiking you can do otherwise considering the immense popularity of the park. Dogs are allowed on all the trails (12 miles of them) throughout the developed areas of the South Rim.The less
visited North Rim is also less inviting for canine hikers. You can get the dog only on a bridle path between the lodge and the North Kaibab Trail.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Downstream from the Grand Canyon the hand of man went to work to create its own magic on the Colorado River in the 1930s. Still one of the man-made wonders of the world, the Hoover Dam remains high on the list of America’s greatest engineering triumphs. Many of the techniques employed in its construction had never been tried before and 112 men lost their lives in order to plug the Colorado River in the Black Canyon. The 726-foot high Hoover Dam is still the second highest dam in America (only the Oroville Dam in California is higher and it is earth fill) and the river backs up 110 miles behind it to fill Lake Mead, the country’s largest man-made reservoir.

Millions of people come to vacation in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area above and below the dam, a water playground smack in the middle of an unforgiving desert. Your dog is welcome to join the fun-seekers on the water and in the campgrounds. The vast majority of acreage in the park is not under water, however. A rewarding trip plan at Lake Mead to experience the eastern fringes of the Mojave Desert is to drive to the various tail-friendly short hikes that have been created by the park service around the lake.

Experienced canine hikers will want to explore the canyons and washes of the designated wilderness areas of the desert. This is rough, steep terrain and during the summer temperatures can reach 120 de- grees so the best time to log this on your dog’s trip planner is between November and March.
Mules are OK inside the Grand Canyon, dogs not OK.

GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK
The Park
The rocks that make up the Teton Range are the oldest in the National Park Service system - estimated to be about 2.7 billion years. The tallest mountain, Grand Teton, lends the park its name and is the second highest point in Wyo- ming. The jagged Teton peaks rise spectacularly above the flat Jackson Hole river valley and frame a series of glacial lakes that stretch through the park. The national park, just ten miles south of Yellowstone National Park, was set up to protect the major peaks as John Rockefeller, Jr. began purchasing the surrounding land to contribute to the park. Today the two John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memo- rial Parkway follows the Snake River between the two parks.

What Your Dog Will Miss
By walking the roads of the developed area of the park your dog will have fantastic views of the Grand Teton Range across the lakes but will never be able to hike into them. Park officials even provide Mutt Mitt stations on the grounds.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are prohibited on the trail and in the Teton backcountry. Dogs also can not go on the swimming beaches or ride in any boats on park waters, save for Jackson Lake. Dogs can go anywhere a car can go but not more than 30 feet from pavement. Come November dogs can trot along some of the park roads that close for the winter-use season. Dogs are never allowed on the park’s multi-use pathway.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
On the doorstep of the Tetons is the Bridger-Teton National For- est, comprising 3.4 million acres that make it the third largest federally managed forest outside of Alaska. Wyoming’s tallest mountain, Gannett Peak, is here but offers one of the hardest mountaineering challenges in the United States. But there are over 40 other named mountains over 12,000 feet in the forest for canine hikers seeking alpine routes. Huckleberry Mountain, a ten-mile round trip from 7,000 feet to 9,615 feet, serves up views of both Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks from an abandoned fire lookout built by the Works Progress Administration in 1938; the trailhead is off the Rockefeller Parkway at Flag Ranch. The Gros Ventre Road east of the park leads to a spot on Sheep Mountain unique in geologic history. In 1925 a hunk of the mountain containing 50 million cubic yards of debris slid down into the valley with such force it rode 300 feet up the opposite slope. The Gros Ventre Slide is one of the most visible geologic scars on earth. An interpretive trail explores the 90-year old debris pile that plugged the Gros Ventre River and created five-mile long Lower Slide Lake.

GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
The Park
In 1986 Life magazine anointed Route 50 that runs east-west through Nevada as “The Loneliest Road in America.” Just about the loneliest stretch of that lonely road runs by Great Basin National Park. Almost all of Nevada lies in the Great Basin, an arid topographic region between the Sierra Nevada mountains to the west and the Wasatch range to the east. This representative sample of the Great Basin began its long journey to national park status in the 1920s when protection was afforded to highly decorative marble caverns discovered by Absalom Lehman back in 1885. When Lehman Caves National Monument opened in 1922 it greeted 63 visitors in its first year.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Most people make the journey to remote Great Basin and take the 12-mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive which your dog can do - and maybe even enjoy the smells of the pinyon- juniper forest through an open car window - and experience Lehman Caves which your dog can not do. Your dog can also leave unchecked the park’s ancient Bristlecone Pines and Nevada’s only glacier from her sightseeing list from the trail.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
No dogs permitted on trails or in the backcountry. They can walk a bit on the roads in the campgrounds and the parking lots at the visitor centers.The only exceptions are the Baker Trail at the Great Basin Visitor Center and the Lexington Arch Trail, neither of which is actually inside the park. Well, the unique limestone Lexington Arch (most desert arches are sandstone) is in the very southeast corner of Great Basin but most of the rocky 1.7-mile trail is not.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
In 2006 a 68,000-acre swath of Nevada Great Basin right next to the national park and about the same size was designated as the Highland Ridge Wilderness under the auspices of the Bureau of Land Management. You would be hard pressed to tell whether the pinyon- juniper covered mountains and
rocky ridges and Bristlecone Pine stumps are part of the national park or the wilderness area. Elevations rise from 6,070 feet to 10,825 feet. There are not many formal marked trails (the Lexington Arch Trail is one) but the primitive and unconfined solitude of Highland Ridge is all dog-friendly. There are 59 miles of off-road vehicle routes; backpackers can tackle the 16.8-mile namesake Highland Ridge Trail.

GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK
The Park
About 900 miles from the near- est ocean are the highest sand dunes in North America. Souvenirs from melting glaciers and Rio Grande River deposits 60 square miles of sand has been blown up against the western flanks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Explorer Zebu- lon Pike made the first American observations of the dunes in 1807. When prospectors were turning over every rock in the West in the late 1800s there was speculation that gold was washed into the dunes along with sand. Minute particles were discovered - enough that mining operations were set up during the tough times of the Great Depression, spurring calls for government protection. It took over 70 years for the status of the Great Dunes to shift from monument to national park. Sound measures taken by the National Park Service have proven Great Dunes to be the quietest national park in the Lower 48 - although not on May and June weekends when it is just like a beach day in the park.

What Your Dog Will Miss
Dogs can not make any of the alpine hikes at Great Dunes, most notably tagging the summit of 13, 297-foot Mount Herard. Your dog will also not be able to spend the night in the dunes since camping is only allowed in the backcountry of the dunefield. That also counts out a trip to Star Dune, at 750 feet, the highest sand dune on the continent.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs can enjoy any parts of the day-use area in Great Sand Dunes National Park.That means the first mile-and-a-half of the dunefield (essentially up to the first 700-foot ridge) and the Montville Nature Trail that loops into the lower slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Dogs are not allowed in the backcountry, either in the dunefield or the mountains.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Right here. You can spend hours hiking with your dog in the Great Dunes, up and down the slopes, across the ridges. High Dune, about 699 feet high, is an hour’s hike from the parking lot. The temperatures in the sand can reach 150 degrees in the summer months so plan your dog’s day accordingly. Medano Creek is a seasonal creek that flows through the sand in front of the dunefield for your dog to splash in; the water can be a foot or higher in May and June at its most energetic flow.

Both Great Dunes National Park and neighboring San Luis State Park have unconfined hiking for your dog through grasslands on the fringes of the dunes. The state park has a campground under the dunefield; the Zapata Falls Recreation Area south of the dunes also has camping. The main attraction there are the falls that make a pow- erful 25-foot plunge inside a rock crevice. Although the hike is short - barely half a mile - your dog’s four-wheel drive will come in handy when scrambling across slippery rocks and through chilly water. In the winter Zapata Falls freezes into a sensuous column of ice and the hike is on a frozen river until well into springtime.

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
The Park
With the coming of the rail- roads in the mid-1800s the southern Appalachian highlands were logged so aggressively that it set off alarm bells. After the National Park Ser- vice formed in 1916 one of its goals was a park in the Eastern United States near where most of the country lived. But the government did not own land like it did out West for parks and money was scarce to go on a land buying spree. But well-heeled large donors like John Rockefeller, Jr. and private citizens in North Carolina and Tennessee began the slow process of acquiring land in the 1920s. By 1934 the gov- ernment had acquired enough land on the mountains and in the hollows to begin cutting trails and building fire towers. Today Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the name comes from a perpetual haze courtesy of water and hydrocarbons produced by the air-breathing leaves of the deciduous forest) covers 800 square miles and is America’s busi- est park. With nine million visitors each year Great Smoky draws more than twice as many people as any other national park.

What Your Dog Will Miss
More than 850 miles of trails. That includes the Appalachian Trail that runs over 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome that is the highest point on the entire 2,130-mile footpath.Only three places on the entire trail deny access to dogs - Baxter State Park at the northern terminus in Maine, Bear Mountain State Park Trailside Museum in New York which pro- vides an alternate path, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

A unique feature of the national park are the high elevation heath balds that are treeless expanses found primarily in the Southern Ap- palachians, where the climate is too warm to support an alpine zone - upper areas where trees fail to grow due to short or non-existent growing seasons - even at the highest elevations. Why some summits are bald and some are not is a mystery to scientists. There are two types of balds - heath balds with blankets of evergreen shrubs and grassy balds covered with dense swards of native grasses.

OFFICIAL POLICY REGARDING DOGS
Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and along roads.They can also go on two paths where bikes are shuffled off to as well - the 1.5- mile Oconaluftee River Trail near the visitor center in Cherokee, North Carolina and the 1.9-mile Gatlinburg Trail in Tennessee near the SugarlandsVisitor Center. That’s it for dogs in America’s most popular national park.

Nearby Places to Hike With Your Dog
Fortunately for dogs in the Southern Highlands balds are not exclusive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you follow the Blue Ridge Parkway north to Milepost 420 (the southern terminus of the Parkway is at the entrance to the park) you reach Black Balsam Knob in the Pisgah National Forest. A short ten-minute climb pulls you above the balsam firs for hiking across the 6,214-foot grassy bald and neighboring Tennant Mountain with unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge Mountains for your dog almost every step of the way. Matching canine hik- ing on Black Balsam Knob stride for stride in “wow” moments is the moderate climb to the Sam Knob summit on the opposite side of the trailhead lot.

When the Appalachian Trail leaves Great Smoky Mountains National Park it soon reaches Max Patch Mountain, one of the favorite hikes near Asheville, a mountain town known for its love of good hiking. Max Patch was a farmer in the 1800s who cleared the 4,629-foot high mountaintop for his cattle to graze; it is today the southernmost bald on the Appalachian Trail and often referred to as one of its “crown jewels.” But it is not a natural bald - the Forest Service keeps the peak grassy with tractors.