By Douglas Scott, The Outdoor Society
The dog days of summer are here, and our four legged friends around the region can’t help but wag their tails enthusiastically. After months of rain, wind, and snow, we need little excuse to take our dogs out into the wilds of the Hood Canal.
While we are just as excited as our pets to hit the trails, sometimes it can be difficult to locate a dog-friendly destination. Luckily, the Hood Canal is full of incredible locations for us and our dogs– from an easy day out to a tongue hanging trek!
Location is the easiest way to know if a trail is dog-friendly or not. In Olympic National Park, dogs are not allowed on trails. If the trail is located in Olympic National Forest, DNR Land, or at a State Park, the majority of trails will be dog friendly. Remember that even if a trail is dog friendly, you are still responsible for keeping them on a leash and picking up after them. Not everyone on a trail is used to dogs, so please be conscientious of others. Also, never leave a bag of waste on the side of the trail, carry it with you, even if you are hiking back past it later. Finally, always remember to bring extra water for you and your dog, as water sources are not always readily available.
Easy Access Spots
Dosewallips State Park
Found right off of Highway 101 and along Hood Canal, Dosewallips has a few hiking options, with a favorite being the fantastic Steam Donkey Trail. At just 3.5 miles in length and an elevation gain of 400 ', this trail reveals water cascades, bridge crossings, ferns and river views.Your dog will love visiting with other dogs and the endless sticks to pick up. Yes, this gentle dog-friendly hike will have the whole pack begging for more adventures.
Twanoh State Park and Trail
On the eastern side of Hood Canal, Twanoh State Park is yet another incredible dog-friendly destination. Situated right along the water, between Union and Belfair, Twanoh has a few miles of trails in the woods and along the shore, helping to making this one of the most dog-friendly locations on this stretch of Hood Canal. Your dog will love this for the beach and the water.
Twenty-two miles north of Hoodsport, the Duckabush River makes for a fun stop for you and your dog. The Ranger Hole Trail is just two miles in length but feels very remote. Passing through second growth timber, the trail leads to the Duckabush River, where you can watch the raging waters churn in white rapids. Dogs, kids, and families will love this short day hike. Your dog will love this trail for the walk, the trees and the many smells from the local wildlife.
Next Level Destinations
Upper South Fork Skokomish
Here, you and your dog can wander in pristine old-growth forests and enjoy this corner of Olympic National Forest. The trail crosses over bridges and through towering trees for nearly four miles before reaching the Olympic National Park boundary. The road here is closed to motor vehicles between the months of October and April, making it an ideal summer destination. Your dog will love this for the remoteness and the many chances to dip in the water.
Found along the Hamma Hamma River in the Olympic National Forest, this trail is for hikers and dogs hoping for a long day of hiking and exploring. At around seven miles round trip and gaining 1,300 ft in elevation, this hike can be hard for many people and pooches. Bring water and treats for all. Take your time while hiking through a mossy forest, over cool bridges and enjoy the stunning lake.
Memorable Canine Adventures
The Valley of Silent Men
Past Lena Lake, those hoping for an even more amazing adventure should hike into the Valley of the Silent Men. You’ll be hiking for 10 miles or so round trip, but this valley is a wonderland. Full of old growth, moss-covered boulders, and cascading creeks, you and your dog will be intoxicated with the beauty of this overlooked section of Olympic National Forest. Your dog will love this for the remoteness and the creeks to wade in.
Marmot Pass is a classic hike, and doing it with your dog makes it even better. At 11 miles round trip and gaining 3,500 feet in elevation, this is a trail for dogs and humans able to hike steep trails for miles on end. Starting in a forest, you’ll eventually climb to majestic views of the Olympic interior and even Hood Canal and Puget Sound. Your dog will love this for the varying terrain and seeing you happy!
Olympic Peninsula’s Dog Friendly Map
6 Tips for Hike Savvy Canines
Like house-bound humans, dogs need a little prep time to get ready for the trail. Here are six tips to help you and Fido have a safe and fun adventure.
#1 Take it Easy : Start with easy trails and slowly build up stamina & strength.
#2 Care for Tender Paws: Make sure your dog's pads are toughened or purchase hiking booties and let him get used to them before heading into the wild.
#3 Yield to oncoming traffic: No matter how sweet Fido appears, its good practice to verbalize how friendly he is. Step off the trail when hikers pass and heel your dog.
#4 Leash Control: If the trail requires leashes or if if your dog might run into other hikers, keep him on a short leash (-6') since a long leash is more likely to get tangled on brush. Your dog should not be allowed to roam freely.
#5 Leave no trace: Bring bags to collect and carry out your dog’s poop. If you’ll be backpacking overnight, bury it at least 6” deep and at least 200 ' from walkways, camps, and water sources.
#6 Command Ready: Hazards in the woods differ than the cul de sac. Don’t let your dog stray. Some plants are poisonous, and some creatures bite and may host diseases. Irressistable smells will lure pooch away in a flash. Make sure your obedience training is on track.
Visit backpacker.com for more ideas on a safe and rewarding journey!