If you’re like many travelers, you don’t consider a vacation a vacation unless you can bring your dog along. Shenandoah is perfect for the dog lover, as it is one of the few national parks in the country that allows pets on its hiking trails.
But in order for you and your dog to enjoy Shenandoah National Park together, it’s paramount that you plan ahead. With just a little planning, you and your dog can have a great time in Shenandoah.
Consider your dog in all of your trip planning.
- Does your dog like to hike, or would he rather just hang out with you at a campground?
- If you’ve selected a long hike to do, ask yourself: Is my dog used to hiking long distances?
- Would he be happier at home?
- What is my backup plan for Fido if I am injured on the trail?
Midway into a strenuous nine-mile hike is no place or time to find out your canine buddy isn’t allowed on that trail – or to realize you forgot to bring enough water for both you and your dog, and a bowl for your pooch to drink from. Or to find out that your dog has a terrible fear of snakes, or will bolt if he sees a deer or bear or squirrel. Your pet is your responsibility always, including when he is with you in Shenandoah National Park. Make sure you keep Rover in mind as you plan your trip.
Dog-Tested & Dog-Approved Hikes in Shenandoah National Park
So now that you’re prepared for a great day in the Park with your trusty four-legged companion, here are several possibilities.
- Little Stony Man (MM 41.7 / Length 0.9 miles) This is a great short hike bring for your first outing with Fido. Pack in your lunch or dinner and plenty of dog bones. You’ll want to spend some quality time hanging out on the cliffs before heading home or to your overnight accommodations in the Park (link or see below)
- Hawksbill Gap Trail (MM 45.6 / Length 2.5 miles) Experienced hikers suggest that you go up the short way and down the longer way. Several overlooks on the way down give you both a chance to stop for water and to enjoy awesome views. Also, an easy hike for enjoying falls colors. Try to go during the week in peak color season.
- Rose River Loop (MM 49.4 / Length 4.0) Streams, waterfalls, maybe one of you can even catch a trout! At the least, get in the water and cool off with your dog. Photo ops make it worth bringing the camera
While dogs are allowed in most places in the Park and there are pet-friendly rooms available at the lodges, there are regulations to keep in mind. Regulations were designed to protect pets, their owners, other visitors, and Park resources, while also allowing you to enjoy the Park with your furry companion. Remember:
- Your pet must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times.
- Pets are not allowed on ranger programs.
Of Shenandoah’s 500-plus miles of hiking trails, less than 20 are off limits to pets. Tips on experiencing Shenandoah National Park with your dog, plus a list of the trails on which pets are not allowed, is on the Park’s Pets webpage.
Where To Stay With Pets
There is nothing more convenient than staying inside the park. Pet-friendly rooms are available at Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge and Lewis Mountain Cabins. There is a $25.00 per pet, per night, non-refundable cleaning fee. Please call (877) 247-9261 prior to booking to confirm availability. Please note that pets must be crated when left unattended. Click HERE for the pet policies.
Happy tails…er, trails!