Fall is a brilliant and colorful time of year. If you’re already feeling the fall spirit and you’re itching to take in the scenery, consider bringing your best four-legged bud along. He’ll love seeing the sites and smelling the crisp air as much as you do! From pet friendly Alabama, to Maine, to Oregon, there are wonderful places to see the changing foliage with your pet.
To experience autumn Southern-style, visit Alabama’s Oak Mountain State Park. This immense park offers a lush fall landscape with abundant foliage, contrasted with dark pine peaks and green valleys. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park, and on the 50 miles of hiking trails. However, they are not allowed in any swimming areas.
In mid to late October, the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia draws thousands of tourists to its fall scenery. This is one of the few national parks that allows dogs on its trails. The park boasts some of the nation’s most stunning views and Is worth seeing in any season, but in in autumn the tree-covered mountains become a tapestry of red, gold and orange hues, which greet you at every turn. Dogs are allowed on almost every trail in the park, but they must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.
Just a smidge farther northeast, at around the same time of year, the United States Arboretum in Washington DC offers you the opportunity to experience fall in a far-off land. The arboretum is home to the Asian Collection, a series of gardens featuring plants and trees native to Japan, China and Korea. Dogs are allowed in the arboretum, but they must be well-controlled on a leash at all times, and may not enter garden beds.
If you’d like to see some of the country’s most breathtaking and iconic fall foliage, head northeast to Acadia National Park in Maine. This park features everything from sea island vistas, to craggy mountains, to forest landscapes. There are a full 100 miles of pet friendly trails in this park, which light up with color beginning in about mid-October. Thousands of people come to peep at the leaves each year – to see it for yourself, plan to come between October 5th and October 21st. Just be sure to keep Fido on a short list, and clean up after him.
If you want to experience fall in a more remote wilderness setting, cut across to the Midwest, and head to the Kootenai National Forest in Montana. This beautiful and rugged forest features a number of dog friendly trails of varying lengths and difficulty, which will take you along gorges, across meadows, and through quiet forest scenery, which comes alive with color from late September through early October.
In the Pacific Northwest, where the trees tower over the landscape, the fall foliage can be dramatic. One particularly dog friendly place to see the autumn sites is the Columbia River Gorge. Located about 25 miles from Portland, Oregon, the Gorge features spectacular views of the Columbia River, cascading waterfalls, and historic bridges and railways. Hiking trails in the Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area allow you to take in the brilliant fall colors at your own pace, and your leashed pet is welcome to come along with you. Plan to visit in mid to late October to catch the leaves at their best.
Please note that even the dog friendliest parks and hiking areas have strict rules about pets. To protect wildlife, dogs typically must be kept on leashes 6 feet or shorter, and are usually not allowed in wilderness areas. Most parks also prohibit pets from entering buildings. You must clean up after your dog, keep him reasonably quiet, and prevent him from doing any damage. Remember that your dog will be in an unfamiliar setting and may not behave as he usually does.
With a little planning and some well-advised precautions, you and your pet can travel around to find your favorite fall places, and maybe even start a new tradition. To find out when leaf-peeping season begins near you, consult this year’s Farmer’s Almanac. Happy Fall, and happy trails from TripsWithPets.com!