Mijo, age five, is a well-traveled hiker. Below you’ll find his list of favorite trails. Many of these are favorites because he can be off-leash on these trails.

25 Dog Friendly Off-Leash* Day Hikes

Mijo’s List (measured by tail-wags per second)

by Lori Nitchals

Difficulty level 1-4 (easiest-strenuous) ***

Lake Wenatchee District – 11 hikes
1-2-White River- go on as far as you want
2-Lake Valhalla**
2-White Pine Creek
3-Twin Lakes
3-Heather Lake
3-Mt. McCausland (late August and early September for huckleberries)
3-Spider Meadows (before the mid-September high hunt)
3-Poe Mountain via Irving Pass
3-Merritt Lake
4-Lake Minotaur- late summer or early fall
4-Rock Mountain via Snowy Creek- late summer or early fall

Leavenworth District – 8 hikes
1-Mountain Home Ridge/Boundary Butte
1-2-Upper Icicle Creek- go in as far as you want
1-2 Tibbetts Mountain- early spring or fall (rattlesnakes)
2-3-Ingalls Creek- early spring or fall (rattlesnakes) can just go in as far as you want
3- Icicle Ridge
3-Sauer’s Mtn. (Trail closed Oct. 14- March 21)
3-Chatter Creek Basin
3-5-Fourth of July- early spring or late fall. Go as far as you want

Lake Chelan – 1 hike
2-Echo Ridge- early spring or late fall (rattlesnakes)

Wenatchee – 4 hikes
2-Clara and Marion Lakes
3- Burch Mountain Beginner’s Route (when access road is not overly rutted)
3-Twin Peaks- early spring or late fall (rattlesnakes)
2-Mission Peak- summer or fall

 Quincy – 1 hike
1- Ancient Lakes and/or Dusty Lake- winter- early spring (rattlesnakes)

*Even in off-leash areas, dogs must be under voice control. Dogs that don’t mind you immediately should be leashed.
**On the Pacific Crest Trail portion of this hike, dogs should be leashed.
*** These are human ratings. For a dog, all of these are easy.

Hiking With Dogs – Miscellaneous Information
by Washington Trails Association

Can I take my dog on a hike, and does she have to be on a leash?

Rules for dogs vary from one land agency to another, but what doesn’t change is that dogs should always behave in a responsible manner. Even in areas where dogs are allowed off leash, your pet should always be under voice control—this means that your dog will come when called. If your dog does not come when called, you should keep your dog on a leash. And no matter where you are going, always bring a leash.

Rules pertaining to specific lands across Washington

  • National Park – Dogs are prohibited on all trails in Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks. They are also not allowed on trails (except on the Pacific Crest Trail) in North Cascades National Park. Dogs on any part of Washington’s Pacific Crest Trail need to be leashed.
  • National Forests – Dogs are generally permitted on U.S. Forest Service trails. There are several areas, however, where dogs are not permitted or must be on leash:
    • Enchantments and Ingalls Lake Trail – Because of heavy hiker use and the fragile ecosystem of these areas, dogs are not allowed anywhere in the Enchantments Basin and on the Ingalls Lake Trail.
    • Alpine Lakes Wilderness – There’s no easy way to summarize, but a good rule of thumb is if the trail leads into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, you’re generally required to have a dog on a leash. This includes most trails accessed along I-90 and on Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass. Leashes are also required on several popular trails in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest. See specific leash-only trails here.
    • Other leash-only trails – Besides the list above there are several other trails on the national forest where leashes are required. Always check at the trailhead and bring your dog’s leash.
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources – Most Washington State DNR trails, require that dogs be on a leash at all times.
  • Washington State Parks – Dogs are welcome at state parks but must always be on a leash. Dogs are not allowed at swimming beaches.

Why should I have my dog on a leash?

  • Because you care about your dog’s safety – Leashed pups are safe pups. There are a lot of natural hazards out there – cliffs, sharp rocks, boulders, rivers and creeks to cross, wild animals. An off-leash dog is much more likely to be hurt off-leash than on-leash. Or get lost. It’s a wild country out there and a dog can easily lose its way.
  • Because there are other dogs – especially ones that are not on a leash. Will these canines like each other, or won’t they? If not, it is best if you can easily pull your dog away from the other one and continue hiking. Finally, there are wild animals. If your dog gets between a mama bear and her cub, it could develop into a bad situation for both of you.
  • To be courteous to other trail users – You may have the nicest dog in the whole world, but other people don’t know that. All they see is a dog, sometimes a big dog, come careening up a hill or around a curve. They think: Is it friendly? How is it going to react to meeting my dog? My kids? Where are the owners? Hiking with a dog on a leash is especially important on busy trails and ones frequented by families with children. From their short perspective, dogs appear very big to kids. And the stakes are high. A frightening encounter with a dog on trail can lead to a life-long fear of dogs or of hiking. Hiking with your dog on a leash is a simple, courteous thing to do – and your dog is still going to have a great time (and you might get a little extra help going up the mountain).
  • To respect wildlife – Marmot, squirrel, deer, goat! There are few dogs that have the self-control not to dart off after one of these creatures. A leash protects these critters and makes sure your dog doesn’t get lost or hurt dashing off after them.
  • To protect the vegetation – Unfortunately, dogs—no matter how well-trained—are not as mindful of fragile mountain plants as hikers are. This can be the case on trail, when dogs veer off into the trees or romp in the meadow while bounding ahead of their owner. But it is particularly true at the hiking destination, especially lakes, when you stop to rest. These places usually get more impact from hikers anyway, and dogs simply compound that. The higher you travel, the more fragile the vegetation gets. So please, keep a close eye on your pets in these locations.

What’s the best etiquette for dogs on trail?
As a hiker, you are responsible for your actions. As a dog owner, you’re also responsible for your dog’s actions. Here are some important etiquette rules to follow:

  • Keep dogs on a leash or under strict voice control at all times. Strict voice control means the dog immediately heels, stays at heel and refrains from barking.
  • Yield the right-of-way to hikers. When dog owners meet other hikers, the dog and owner must yield the right-of-way, stepping well clear of the trail to allow other users to pass.
  • Yield the right-of-way to horses. When dog meets horse, the dog owner must first yield the trail. Make sure the dog stays calm, refrains from barking and doesn’t move toward the horse. If possible, move to the downhill side of the trail (so you don’t look big) and hold your dog close until the horse is well past.
  • Pick up or bury the poop. The only poop atop the forest floor should be from the animals living there. Pack a trowel and bury the waste as you would your own, or better yet, pack it out in a plastic baggie. Do not leave a baggie by the side of the trail or hanging from a tree to get later.

This post was originally published on 6/16/2015.

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One Response

  1. Hillary Clark

    The info from WTA is vague about dogs on leash in Alpine Lakes Wilderness. They need to be on a leash on the west side of crest (Mt Baker Snoqualmie). The east side (Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest), dogs are allowed off leash and need to be on voice control. The exception is the Enchantments area/Ingalls Lake area, where dogs are not allowed (mostly… they can go partway to Ingalls Lake). And the Icicle Gorge Trail, where dogs must be on leash.


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