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A Guide to Water-Based Adventures With Your Dog

08.01.18

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A Guide to Water-Based Adventures With Your Dog

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If you were to tell us that there’s a purer luxury in this world than jumping into cold water on a sweltering day, we’re not sure we’d believe you. And trust us, your dog would agree. The gratification that comes from rinsing dusty trail, dripping sweat, and long miles off of you in one fell swoop as your breath gets caught in your chest and goosebumps reflexively rise...well, that's one that we live for. So, as the summer days continue to blaze by and the temperature somehow keeps on rising, we’ve put together a list of our favorite coast-to-coast dog-friendly adventures.

Oceans, lakes, rivers…heck, even small streams are a go on this list, because we’re willing to wager that your panting pup won’t be discerning about a lazy little stream in the middle of a hot hike through Nevada’s Pine Creek Canyon. There’s a remarkable number of bits of life advice to be learned from our furry adventure companions, one of which is clearly, “See water, jump in water.” Frankly, we’re on board.  

Before you embark, though, there are several considerations to take into account. First, not all dogs are natural-born swimmers. Ask the internet, and (in proper internet form) you’ll get myriad responses to the query, “How to teach my dog to like water.” The short answer: Start slow. Even a pup that is familiar with swimming around a lake won’t have an inherent knowledge of the dynamics of the ocean or of a quick river current. Make sure you remain highly attentive as she approaches new types of water, and if you’re feeling nervous, doggie life jackets can be a huge help, especially for breeds that have not evolved to be great swimmers. 

Finally, as always, it’s important to keep the principles of Leave No Trace top of mind. Applying them to dogs demands attention to nuance, but having an absolute blast in beautiful outdoor spaces while lessening our impact on the environment at the same time is the gold standard—one we think everyone should hold themselves to. 

Rivers

  • Benham Falls, Central Oregon: A choose-your-distance out-and-back hike with powerful rapids to admire and big, lazy eddies for swimming.
  • Yellow Branch Falls, Eastern South Carolina: A lovely waterfall with a small swimming hole at the end of a well-maintained trail. 

Lakes

  • Green Lakes, Central Oregon: An 8-mile hike with many stunning lakes.
  • Canyon Creek Lakes, Northern California: A lovely backpacking route with myriad swimming spots along the way.
  • Blue Lake Hike, Northern Washington: A short trail leading to absolutely stunning North Cascades views.
  • Titus Lake Trail, Central Idaho: A short hike to a perfect swimming hole.
  • Two Medicine Lake, Northern Montana: A road-served lake that’s incredibly scenic and surprisingly not crowded.
  • Twin Lakes Hike, Central Wyoming: A short hike with lovely views and plenty of stream crossings along the way.
  • Cirque of the Towers, Western Wyoming: An iconic, height-of-summer backpacking trail with stunning wildflowers.
  • Sylvan Lake Loop Trail, Western Colorado: A super easy hike with access to the lake nearly the entire time.

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