ALEXANDRIA, VA–We’ve picked a few of the best dog-friendly hiking trails in Virginia for you and your pet pal. With spring and summer right around the corner pet parents and fur babies alike will be heading out into the great outdoors with gusto. Because of the longer days and warmer temps on the horizon we’ve compiled some pawsitively perfect dog-friendly hiking trails for you and your pooch to explore right here in Virginia.
Know what the pet policy is for each park
Be prepared for a pet emergency
Your pet needs a leash no more than 6 feet long
Bag your pets waste and place it in a trash can
For a starter trail, Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, Virginia has a network of over eight and a half miles of trails. With it being only about thirty-five minutes from Old Town Alexandria, this could be the perfect place to start training for a more intensive hike for your furry pal. Pohick Bay features other activities like disc golfing, equestrian trails, fishing, mini-golf, The Pirate’s Cove Water Park, and paddle boat tours. The park is open from sunrise to sunset and free for Virginia residents.
The scenic Potomac Heritage Trail is another great pet-friendly trail system for your dog. Within the vast trail network itself, there are no off-leash areas. Stay extra vigilant on your hike for ticks that are prevalent as well. Make sure to take precautions before, during, and after your hike so that you and your pet stay safe. The Potomac Heritage Trail network is an extensive network of many different areas so make sure that choose which one will be the right fit. For more information on hours and locations be sure to check out The Potomac Heritage Trail website for more details!
Beaverdam Reservoir which in 2023 officially becomes Beaverdam Reservoir Park has one and half miles of hiking trails which can be another short beginner trail for hiking with your dog. This trail which has been designated with an easy skill level is suitable for the first hike with your pup. The Reservoir is open from dawn until dusk and all pets are required to remain on a leash.
Shenandoah National Park is a national park that prides itself on being pet-friendly. Of the more than 500 miles of hiking trails, 12 trails which total less than 20 miles are totally off-limits to pets. Ranking as one of the best national parks on the east coast Shenandoah’s proverbial street cred comes also from being ranked on the National Register of Historic Places. If you eventually get super tired from basking in the great outdoors you don’t have to get anxious about your overnight arrangements as well because at the Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge, and Lewis Mountain Cabins pets are welcomed.
Prince William Forest Park which is open to the public from sunrise to sunset boasts the largest Piedmont Forest in the entire national park system and also has the largest greenspace in the DC area, which is more than enough open space for you and your dog to really get moving. The 15,000-acre park which is located near the Quantico Marine Base has 37 hiking trails and only three areas are no-go areas for pets. To enter the park entry fees are required and are valid for seven days. Yearly passes are also available and are valid for one full year with unlimited entry upon purchase.
Having a commute time of less than 15 miles away from DC, Great Falls Park has a variety of spectacular attributes. The 800-acre park has 15 miles of hiking trails, 163 different bird species, and several rare varieties of plants that call the park home. With it also being touted as one of the most popular staycation destinations in the area. It will be an amazing experience for you and your dog to experience the breathtaking Mather Gorge which shows the Potomac River’s rapids. Don’t worry about any off-limits areas here, your pet is welcome in all of the outdoor areas of the park, with their leash of course! Be mindful though of coyotes and snakes that call the park home too. The park is open from 7:00 am to thirty minutes after sunset. Great Falls also requires entrance fees to access the park. Digital entrance fees and passes are available along with various pass options.
Now that you’ve got a great list of local trails to check out as the weather gets warmer, it’s time for you and your dog can get out there and go on some fantastic adventures together. Remember we want you and your pet to have the most amazing time out enjoying nature but please know before you go! Do your research about each park so you can prep your pet with items specifically for them to have a safe and happy hiking day. With that said Happy Hiking!
For more information about how to prep your dog for their hike be sure to check out Honest Paws for more pawesome pet hiking tips!