July 31, 2019

Top 5 Dog-Friendly Hikes Near DC

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Dedicating time on the trail for you, your pup, and Mother Nature promotes health and happiness. We’ve put together a list of our top five dog-friendly hikes near D.C. that are sure to help you find your zen. Hikes are a perfect way to get outdoors with your best friend during the pandemic. 

Before hiking, consider bringing: 

  • Water bowl and sufficient water
  • Snacks or treats
  • Collar and leash (potentially a long-line leash)
  • Poop bags
  • Toys (like a Frisbee)
  • Bedding, if hiking overnight

Most trails are open daily from dawn to dusk, but check before your trek!


Hemlock Overlook Regional Park—Virginia

Park Features:

  • Well-marked trail
  • Easy hike
  • Historic sights

The 19.6-mile Bull Run Occoquan hiking trail winds through Hemlock Overlook Regional Park. The trail entrance is across the street from the dog-friendly Paradise Springs Winery.

Important Note: Horseback riders frequent this trail. If your dog is easily spooked by large animals, plan accordingly.

Shenandoah National Park—Virginia

Park Features:

  • Waterfalls
  • Trails with varying difficulties that appeal to a range of hikers

Spanning the Blue Ridge Mountains of western Virginia, Shenandoah National Park boasts dynamic wildlife, beautiful scenery, and crystal-clear waterfalls. While some trails are off-limits to dogs, there are still plenty of amazing options to travel with your furry friend. Check out Lands Run Falls, a 1.3 mile-long hike with a 325-foot elevation gain. Compton Peak, West and East Hike is another great option with 2.4 miles of trail and an 855-foot elevation gain.

Visit the park’s calendar for information on upcoming dog-friendly events.

Rock Creek Park—Washington D.C.

Park Features:

  • Create your own hike
  • Scenic views

Founded in 1890 as a recreational outlet for D.C. residents, Rock Creek Park lets visitors forge their own paths. The park’s two main hiking trails—Western Ridge Trail and Valley Trail—are linked by a series of connecting paths. There also is a covered bridge where visitors can watch local fish, birds, and other wildlife.

Cabin John Regional Park—Maryland

Park Features: 

  • Bats and butterflies
  • Paved and natural trails
  • Shade trees
  • On-site dog park

Dog owners from Montgomery County will appreciate Cabin John Regional’s convenient location. The park boasts over four miles of natural surface trails and two miles of paved trails, with opportunities to view Monarch butterflies, bluebirds, and more.

Owners looking for a less intense experience can visit Cabin John Regional’s on-site dog park or Mature Forest trails for plenty of shaded rest spots.

Montgomery County law requires that dogs be on leash outside of designated dog exercise areas at all times. Inside these areas, owners must have a leash ready.

Potomac Heritage Park—Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia

Park Features:

  • Numerous trails
  • Large network of hiking opportunities

This expansive network of waterways and trails offers hikers a plethora of scenic views spanning three states. Popular trails include Mount Vernon and Billy Goat.

Mount Vernon Trail, located near the George Washington Memorial Parkway, spans 18 miles between the Mount Vernon Estate and Theodore Roosevelt Island. Savor the amazing view of D.C.’s skyline, or connect to a larger network of trails.

Billy Goat Trail starts and finishes on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, offering hikers three sections of varying difficulty. Dogs are permitted on Section B and C. Section B is a 2.7-mile loop, and Section C is an easy walk with panoramic views of the Potomac River. Section A does not allow dogs, as the trail is strenuous and very technical.

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