Are you and your dog aching for a good run? Not an ordinary jog through the park or around-a-few-blocks run. Instead, we're talking about a memorable, bucket list run. Well, stay tuned, because we've rounded up nine West Coast dog-friendly runs that belong on any dog lover's bucket list.
The runs below are listed in alphabetical order by state.
Surprisingly, some of the best places to go for a run with your furry friend are practically within shouting distance of California's biggest cities. Here are three to get you started.
Mission Trails Regional Park
This fabulous 8,000-acre park is just eight miles from downtown San Diego. It features both natural and developed recreational areas, along with nearly 60 miles of trails. The topography is varied and the trails range from easy to really strenuous. The park includes a lake, a small river, and lots of rain-driven waterfalls.
Parking is plentiful, the staff is friendly and helpful, and leashed dogs are welcome to take their people for a great run.
Point Reyes National Seashore
This stunning national treasure lies just north of San Francisco and is home to an abundance of wildlife. Many of the beaches are still relatively wild with huge sand dunes and breathtaking waves. Because this seashore was set aside to protect wildlife, be sure to check for closures before going. Certain areas are closed to dogs (and some to people, too) during breeding or nesting season.
Point Reyes is a patchwork of hiking trails and beaches, each with its own rules about pets and many subject to temporary closures. Where dogs are allowed, they must be on a leash that's no more than 6' long at all times. It's best to visit the Point Reyes website for the latest regulations and closures before you go.
More than half of this large park located in the heart of Los Angeles is an off-leash dog park. Each of the three trails is a different level of difficulty, so you and your dog are sure to find one that meets your trail running desires. If your pup still has energy left, let him explore the 90 acre bit of doggy bliss (AKA dog park) before heading home.
This popular park features stunning 360-degree views of Los Angeles. However, it's often crowded, there's no shade, and parking is problematic at best. It's best to go very early on a weekday, read the fine print on the parking signs carefully, and take plenty of water for both of you.
Besides abundant natural beauty, Oregon also features some of the best dog-friendly runs on the West Coast!
A wide, sandy beach, shallow waves, awe-inspiring rock formations... Oh, and plenty of driftwood to chase, carry, or gnaw! Cannon Beach is the perfect place to take your dog for a run amidst breathtaking scenery.
It's open 24/7, so even night owls can enjoy a quiet run with their pup. Dogs must be kept on leash or under voice control at all times.
This 4.8-mile there-and-back trail meanders through a forest of old-growth Sitka spruce before opening up to sweeping vistas of the Oregon coast from atop a 400-foot cliff. Spring and fall runners might even see migrating gray whales from the headland.
Dogs must be kept on a leash while on this very popular trail.
Cooper Spur + Cloud Cap
Pick a clear day to tackle this rugged trail with your furry best friend. He might be too busy snuffling to appreciate the view — but you will! This 6.8-mile there-and-back trail offers incredible close-up views of Mount Hood along with distant views of Mount Adams, Mount Rainier, and Mount St. Helens.
A leash is required, and you might want to stay at the small first-come, first-served campground overnight to get an early start before the crowds arrive.
If your pet likes the beach, Washington is the state for her! There are plenty of beaches for the two of you to explore — when you're not pounding the sand on your dog-friendly runs, that is.
Cape Disappointment State Park
Did we say beaches? Cape Disappointment State Park has an astounding 27 miles of dog-friendly beaches along with another seven miles of hiking trails that meander through marshes and forests.
Cape Disappointment State Park is open 24/7 for you and your dog's enjoyment. Leashes are required.
This pretty island in Washington's iconic Puget Sound is reachable by a pet-friendly ferry service. There are two beaches that welcome dogs here. The first is Fort Ebey State Park. It features 28 miles of hiking trails bisected by a 2-mile stretch of sandy beach where leashed dogs are welcome to take their people for a run.
The second dog-friendly beach on Whidbey Island is Double Bluff Beach. There are sand dunes, cliffs, and plenty of driftwood to keep your dog occupied after a run while you enjoy the spectacular views of the Cascades, the Olympics, Mount Baker, and Mount Rainier. If the day is clear enough, you might even see downtown Seattle.
Leashes are required at Fort Ebey State Park but optional for well-behaved dogs at Double Bluff Beach. Note that parking is limited at Double Bluff Beach and only the beach to the west of the parking lot is open to the public. The area to the east is all private property.
Lake Dorothy Trail
This trail through the scenic Alpine Lakes Wilderness area passes a gorgeous waterfall on its way to popular and incredibly beautiful Lake Dorothy. The trail is best from June until October.
From May 15th to October 31st, a free self-issue permit is required for use. Vehicles cost $5 a day. Dogs are welcome as long as they're kept leashed at all times.
What to Bring on Dog-Friendly Runs
Before you head out for one of these bucket list dog-friendly runs, make sure your dog is equipped for the adventure. Even where leashes aren't required for the run itself, you'll almost certainly need one to get there and back. A hands-free leash will reduce strain and help avoid balance issues. You'll also need water and a collapsible bowl for your pup, some snacks to keep her energy level up, and plenty of doggie doo bags. It's also a good idea to carry a small dog first-aid kit, just in case.
For more information about running with your dog, send us a woof. We're all about runners and their dogs.
Happy Earth Day!
Photo: Bernese Mountain Dog by Dagmar Klauzová