Summer Hiking With Your Dog

by John Kruse, July 22, 2020

Looking for a fun way to enjoy the dog days of summer? Take your dog on a hike!

I did just that last week with Georgia, my springer spaniel. With a hot day forecast the two of us arrived at the trailhead for the Icicle Gorge Loop Trail in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Leavenworth at 8:30 AM. We enjoyed a great walk along the scenic Icicle River with several stops along the way for photos and for Georgia to drink water or wade. By 10 AM we were back at the truck, having traveled 4.2 miles.

With plenty of energy remaining and the temperature still in the low 70’s I decided to head to the end of the Icicle River Road where we took off on the Icicle River Trail. We hiked under a shaded canopy of pine and cedar on a trail crossing several small brooks 1.5 miles to French Creek. There we had lunch and enjoyed a conversation with a young U.S. Forest Service Ranger working her first summer in the backcountry.

With the sun higher in the sky we headed back to the trailhead, reaching the comfort of our air-conditioned truck before noon. On the way home we did our traditional stop at McDonalds where Georgia was rewarded for good behavior with a small plain hamburger; her favorite.

Are you looking to enjoy a day on the trail with your dog too? Here’s some helpful advice:

KNOW WHERE YOU CAN GO: Dogs are generally welcome on state and federal lands with one major exception…National Parks. The vast majority of national parks do not allow dogs on trails though they are usually allowed (on leashes) in developed areas like scenic viewpoints or picnic areas).

KEEP THAT DOG ON A LEASH: It’s actually a requirement at developed recreation areas on Forest Service Lands (campgrounds and picnic areas) and many trails also have a leash requirement for dogs. Even if it isn’t a requirement it’s a good idea. If a dog runs across a deer or other animal there’s a good chance that pup will chase it and it might be a long time until you get that dog of yours back. Also, even though you love dogs, some people on the trail don’t and a leash will keep them from bothering these hikers.

GO EARLY: That dog of yours is wearing a fur coat, and going on a long hike on a hot summer day can quickly turn that outing into a medical emergency with the dog suffering heat exhaustion. With that in mind, go for a morning hike and get them off the trail before the heat of the day arrives. Look for trails with lots of shade too. Your pooch will appreciate it.

FOOD AND WATER: If I’m taking my dog on a summer hike, I’m always looking for water sources along the way where she can lap up water or cool off as needed. Food’s important too. Just like you need trail mix or protein to replenish energy during a long hike, your dog does as well. I’m not necessarily recommending you bring plain McDonald’s hamburgers with you, but have some dog food or biscuits handy for your four-legged friend.

FIRST AID: Bee stings, cuts and abrasions happen. Having first aid supplies for yourself and your dog is always a good idea. When it comes to bee stings, the dog may have a reaction and a little Benadryl may help. Be sure to check your dog (and yourself) for ticks too before heading home.

CONDITIONING: Last but not least, don’t go on a 10-mile hike with your dog if that pup spends its days sleeping on the couch with their longest walk to date being a trip to the back yard. Just like you want to be in shape for a hike, so does your dog, and walking him around the neighborhood for increasing distances will toughen up those paws too.

Put all of this together and you and your dog will be ready to enjoy time on the trail this summer!

John Kruse – and


The cool waters of the Icicle River
Georgia loves time on the trail


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