Tail-friendly Trails

A Healthy Habit

Natalie Hollingshead | Photos by Kevin Kiernan Mar 12, 2018

For dog-lovers, a hike isn’t a hike without a four-legged friend trailing along. But taking Fido into the mountains isn’t as simple as a walk in the park. Read on a for a few pointers to make sure man’s best friend is also man’s best hiking companion.

Good for Both of You

Studies show that dogs can be powerful motivation to get moving. Dog owners are more likely to take regular walks and be active, according to a study by Michigan State University. Dog owners also log more minutes of exercise per day, and the American Heart Association says dog ownership can help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Pairing your exercise needs with your dog’s is a great two-for-one. Most hikes that are suitable for dogs are great for kids, so if you’ve got children take them along as well.

Just make sure your dog is obedient enough to take on a trail, properly socialized among people and other dogs, and able to handle the weather.

Don’t forget to pack water for you and your dog, and bring supplies to clean up any waste.

Dog and hikers standing in front of rock formations
Fisher Towers in Moab, Utah
Trees and mountains reflected in a lake
Ruth Lake in the Uintas of Utah
Hikers and a dog walking along a trail
Fisher Towers in Moab, Utah

No Dogs Allowed

Dogs aren’t allowed on all trails, so check ahead so you don’t have to turn around at the trailhead. You might be tempted to leave your pup in the vehicle, but that’s never a good idea even when temperatures aren’t excessively hot. Overheating can happen quickly in a small space.

Along the Wasatch Front in Utah, for example, dogs are not permitted in protected watershed areas such as City Creek Canyon (above the water treatment plant), Parleys, Dell and Lambs Canyons, and both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.

A quick Google search should let you know if dogs are OK. 

Dog-friendly Trails


Ruth’s Lake by Mirror Lake — This short 2.8-mile trail to Ruth’s Lake in the Uintas has minimal elevation gain so it is excellent for beginning hikers, kids and fur babies.

Fisher Towers — Follow this 4.4-mile trail to an overlook to view the rock formations that make up Fisher Towers. This Moab trail has little shade and gets toasty quickly in the summer, so pack lots of water and time your hike accordingly.

Wasatch Front — If you’re looking to get out in the wild with your dog along the Wasatch Front, try the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, City Creek Canyon (below the water treatment plant), Mill Creek Canyon (odd days are off-leash, even days are on-leash), Mt. Olympus Trail, East Canyon, Ferguson Canyon Trail, Jordan River Parkway, Park City Rail Trail and American Fork Canyon. Dogs are also allowed in National Forest lands in Davis County and in the Stansbury Mountain Range near Tooele. Dogs are allowed at all Utah state parks except for the Rock Cliff area at Jordanelle.


Tubbs Hill — The Tubbs Hill hike near Coeur d’Alene is a 2.4-mile loop with a lake. It’s dog-friendly, moderately trafficked and good for all skill levels.

Indian Cliff Trail — This mostly shaded 3-mile hike is perfect for warm summer days, with a small incline and stunning views of Lake Chatcolet.

Cress Creek Trail — A 1.3-mile loop near Ririe, the Cress Creek Natural Trail has a small elevation gain and great views of the South Fork of the Snake River. Visit during the fall for an explosion of color. 


Jackson Peak — If you and your pet are in peak health, try this 11-mile roundtrip hike to Jackson Peak. Stop at Goodwin Lake, about 3 miles from the trailhead, to let your dog swim and have lunch.

Ski Lake — One of Jackson’s most popular hikes, Ski Lake is a 4-mile hike with little elevation gain but great alpine views. There’s lots of water along the trail for dogs, too. 

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