Bounding along the trail, tail wagging, full of energy, always excited to see (and sniff) around the next corner: Who could ask for a better hiking companion than a dog? Whether your pup is a purebred or a rough-and-ready mutt, hitting the trail is a great way to spend some quality time together and burn some calories while you’re at it.
Unfortunately, from a canine point of view, not all hikes are created equal. National parks forbid dogs from even setting foot on a trail, let alone run off-leash. That rules out some of Utah’s most popular destinations—but, happily, there are plenty more to choose from. We’ve chosen some of the best dog-friendly trails from around the state, and we’ve even included a roundup of places to eat, drink, and stay that will extend a warm welcome to both you and your pooch.
MOAB: NEGRO BILL CANYON
Length: 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
With plenty of opportunity for off-leash scrambling, a number of refreshing stream crossings, and stands of cottonwood and willow trees that dot the trail with shade, this is an ideal hike for pups and parents alike. Your reward for making the two-mile trek in: You can marvel at Morning Glory Natural, the country’s sixth-largest natural rock span, while your dog takes a cooling dip in the spring-fed pool just below it.
Poison ivy and prickly cactuses thrive along the canyon’s length, so don’t forget to “leave it be” and keep an eye on your dog’s off-leash trajectory. For more details, see Discover Moab’s site.
After the Hike: Make a weekend of it with a stay at 3 Dogs and a Moose Cottages. Four cozy, uniquely decorated mini-houses offer a perfect place (complete with shaded outdoor patios) for you and your pup to crash. Fuel up with a hearty plate of BBQ at The Blu Pig. You can enjoy a frosty brew and live blues while your dog rests at your feet on the expansive outdoor deck.
SUNDANCE: Timpanogos Aspen Grove Trail
Length: 13 miles round-trip (with many opportunities for a shorter hike)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
For energetic dogs and seasoned hikers, this challenging hike is one of the greatest in the state. But even mellow or senior dogs (or weekend-warrior dog parents) can enjoy one of the many shorter versions, such as the easy 1.6-mile out-and-back to Timp Falls. If you and your dog enjoy backpacking, the summer months are the perfect time
to make a mid-week trip to Timp Saddle (5.8 miles from the trailhead)—weekends often bring packed parking lots and crowded trails.
Whichever variation of the route you choose, you’ll enjoy spectacular mountain vistas, abundant wildlife sightings, and ever-changing weather. Be prepared with a leash, plenty of water, and warm layers for both you and Fido.
After the Hike: Though Sundance Resort charges a steep $100 pet fee per stay, many properties managed by nearby Stewart Mountain Lodging welcome dogs.
HEBER: Center Canyon
Length: 8 miles total
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
When you want to get away from it all (except for your dog), Center Canyon offers the chance to hike in blissful solitude. Starting with a climb up an old Jeep road, you’ll wind through maze-like canyon walls past inviting streams and stands of trees. The upper trail offers a challenge for both you and your pup as you scramble up a steep elevation where the path is not always clearly marked. Sharpen your topo skills before you tackle this one—the vistas are worth it!
In warmer months, this is a dry hike, so pack plenty of drinking water. During the fall, the area is popular with hunters—blaze orange vests for both you and your dogs are a wise safety precaution.
After the Hike: Snake Creek Grill in Heber offers creative twists on comfort food like plank-roasted salmon and maple baby back ribs. Dogs are welcome in the seasonal outdoor seating; check before you go to make sure the patio is open.
SYRACUSE: Antelope Island State Park
Length: Varies by trail (2.9 to 12 miles)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Looking for a getaway that’s close to home, yet offers a great diversity of trails, vistas, and camping opportunities? Antelope Island, the largest in Great Salt Lake, is less than 50 miles from SLC, making it perfect for a day trip or a weekend campout. Try the easy 2.9-mile Buffalo Point Trail for a leisurely meander through dramatic rock formations, or gear up for the 7.7-mile climb to the summit of Frary Peak.
Beware the no-see-ums! Millions of these tiny biting flies swarm during the late spring to early fall months, and they can ruin a trip faster than an August hailstorm. Douse both yourself and your dog with an effective insect repellent (like Flys Off Mist by Doctors Foster and Smith or Natrapel).
After the Hike: Bridger Bay Campground offers 26 family- and dog-friendly tent/RV sites. You’ll need to bring your own water or tote containers from nearby Bridger Bay Beach. Grab a buffalo burger or a pulled-pork sandwich at Island Buffalo Grill (open seasonally only).
Wherever you and your dog choose to roam, remember to follow basic rules of courtesy and safety: Know (and obey) leash policies. Keep your dog from disturbing wild animals or plants. And, of course, never hit the trail without an ample supply of poop bags (and tote them with you when you go!)
Dog-gone Great Travel Gear
For on-the-go hydration and snack breaks, the Sleepypod Yummy Travel Bowl offers three-in-one packable convenience. Separate the bowls, fill one with water and one with food, then (if conditions warrant) slip the water-filled saucer under the food bowl to deter crawling insects. $28 sleepypod.com
Rocky trails, hot sand, and cactus thorns can wreak havoc on your dog’s feet. Protect those tender pads with sturdy, lightweight booties. Ruffwear Grip Trex’ rugged outsoles offer sure footing for even hyper or skittish pups. Be sure to measure carefully to get the right size.$70 ruffwear.com
For cuts, bruises, or bug bites on the trail, tote a lightweight first aid kit and prevent a time-consuming visit to the vet. Adventure Medical Kits’ Dog Series includes bandages, antibacterial wipes, gauze, and anything else you’ll need to deal with minor medical emergencies—even a handy splinter retrieval tool. $25 adventuremedicalkits.com