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Elle Ossello | 03.14.2017

Though there are myriad reasons why having a dog in your life can elevate your health and happiness, having a full-time, no-questions-asked, ever-excited adventure buddy tops the charts.

If your number one hiking pal has four legs, you’re used to the cruising through Outdoor Project, filtering out adventures within National Parks or too-delicate ecosystems. But figuring out which hikes are best-suited to your pooch is a bit more nuanced a decision than simply abiding by a “No Dogs” sign. The adventures outlined below were chosen because they are “epic.” Before you embark, be sure you are well aware of what each trail entails and what the corresponding limitations of your dog are.

Almost more important than understanding the limitations of your K9 companion is learning proper hiking etiquette with your dog and being kind, patient, respectful and understanding of fellow hikers both with and without dogs. This article does an excellent job explaining clearly and succinctly—here are the highlights:

  • Always keep your dog on leash unless he is extremely responsive on voice command. It’s NOT okay to be near wildlife with an off-leash dog that’s anything but highly obedient.
  • Leave No Trace absolutely applies to your dog.
  • Carry water, food, and gear for your dog. This includes first aid.
  • Hikers without dogs always have the right of way.

Best of Oregon

Cape Lookout: Definitively one of the most beautiful lookouts on Oregon’s northern coast, this 4.8-mile round-trip is an easy there-and back meander. Nearby you’ll find Cape Lookout State Park Campground, one of Oregon’s best and most popular.

Neahkahnie Mountain: The 4-mile hike up to sweeping views is peppered with wildflowers in the spring and early summer. It’s no walk in the park—you’ll gain 1,100 feet on your way to the summit.

Tamanawas Falls Hike: Consider arriving early to this well-loved trail near Hood River. It’s relatively flat, beautiful, accessible year-round, and travels right along the East Fork of the Hood River.

Green Lakes: Though it’s one of the busiest hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness, the pristine views from the shores of an alpine lake make racing crowds to the parking lot well worth your trouble.

Cooper Spur + Cloud Cap: On a clear day, it’s nearly impossible to top this hike. Incredible views of Mount Hood and distant views of Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, and Mount Rainier characterize this iconic Oregon gem.

Best of Washington

Dog Mountain: It’s an obligatory Columbia River Gorge hike not simply because of the name. Though relatively strenuous, this 7.2-mile round-trip serves up amazing views of the Columbia River and hosts a lovely smattering of flowers in the springtime.

Dewey + Anderson Lakes: This is one of the best backpacking trips in the area and winds among pristine alpine lakes. Note that dogs are not permitted in Mount Rainier National Park, so be sure to stay on the PCT that hugs the east side of Naches Peak. Tipsoo Lake is off limits for K9s.

Ape Canyon: This is one of the loveliest hikes near Mount St. Helens, and it gives hikers an unadulterated look at the lingering aftermath of the volcanic explosion in 1980. Though the trail is long, 9.6 miles round trip, there’s no extreme elevation gain.

Goat Lake: Though the season here is limited due to snowpack, it’s one of the least-traveled and best-kept secrets in the area. If you’re willing to drive, you and your pooch could have the overnight backpacking trip to yourselves.

Mount Ellinor: It’s a relatively strenuous 3.2-mile hike, but it is well-worth the trouble when you catch a glimpse of the jaw-dropping view. Be sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times: Mountain goats inhabit the area and can be confrontational.

Chain Lakes Loop Trail: Though it should top your to-do list, be well advised that some dogs struggle with the talus fields found along this loop. If yours is an agile, well-coordinated pup, this is one of the best in the North Cascades.

Granite Mountain Lookout: Similar to Chain Lakes Loop Trail and many others in the North Cascades, this one is a jaw-dropping beauty but can be difficult for older or less-agile dogs. For young cattle dogs, energetic border collies, and the like, this is doggy heaven.

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