Summer is officially underway, and Connecticut residents are responding to the great outdoors, hiking the state’s numerous scenic trails. For those interested in bringing their dog along, the website bringfido.com has compiled the top 10 dog-friendly hiking trails in the state:
1. The Cascades at Lake Mohigan (Fairfield)
2. Housatonic Rail-Trail – Trumbull (Pequannock Valley Greenway) Trumbull
3. Bear Mountain Reservation (Danbury)
4. Farmington River Trail (Farmington)
5. Timberlands (Guilford)
6. Kettletown State Park (Southbury)
7. Central Bark Dog Park at Copp Family Park (Groton)
8. Winslow Park (Westport)
9. Housatonic Valley Rail-Trail (Monroe)
10. Hop River State Park Trail (Vernon-Rockville)
The publication “A Bark in the Park – Connecticut” lists the basics for taking your dog on a hike, including helpful hints on the collar, identification tags, bandanna, leash and water. Also discussed are conditioning, trail hazards, and the perils of black bears, rattlesnakes and porcupines.
The basic do’s and don’t when hiking with your dog are also outlined by backpacker.com:
Find a canine-friendly trail
Look for places that are “easy on the paws” – shady trails with soft, leaf- or needle-covered terrain; avoid paths littered with sharp rocks, off-trail routes with steep drops, or any surface that gets very hot.
Fit & load his pack
Adjust the harness on your dog so it’s snug but won’t chafe (remove saddlebags first, if the pack allows). You should be able to fit two fingers under it. Load the bags with dog food, treats, water (some packs come with hydration bladders), bowls, and extra gear for you–this is the time for beer or another pillow! Make sure both sides are weighted equally; total load shouldn’t exceed one-third of your dog’s body weight.
Camp with your dog
- Keep dogs leashed around other hikers, bikers, horses, and on steep or slippery terrain (so they don’t knock anyone over). Step aside and yield the trail to all others.
- Pack out poop on dayhikes (double-bag it!). On longer trips, follow regulations and bury away from the trail and water sources.
- Bring a camp towel and brush to clean and dry dogs thoroughly before letting them in the tent. Trim nails pretrip to prevent rips in the tent floor.
- Pack a foam pad for sleeping, and a wool or down blanket in cold weather.
- Keep track of dogs at night with LED lights or glowstick bracelets on collars.