Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cliff Walk

places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail - Newport, Rhode Island

The Park
In the late 1800s wealthy New Yorkers began coming to Newport to escape the suffocating summer heat in the city. They built the most extravagant “cottages” ever seen in America on the rocky bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. No matter how impressive the mansion or how rich the owner, however, no one’s property could extend all the way to the shoreline. By virtue of “Fisherman’s Rights” granted by the Colonial Charter of King Charles II and a provision in the Rhode Island Constitution, the public is always guaranteed the legal right to walk along a small sliver of cliff. Not that the powerful residents on the other sides of the gates have always agreed with that right. In the past bushes were planted, walls erected and even bulls grazed to discourage use by the public. Other owners embraced the Cliff Walk and helped develop it from a mere footpath. Some tunnels were built and flagstones placed in muddy stretches. Eventually the federal government stepped in to help rebuild the path after erosion during hurricanes. In 1975, the Cliff Walk was named the first National Recreation Trail in New England.

The Walks
Today the Cliff Walk rambles for about 3.5 miles, about two of which are paved and easy to hike. The first mile calls to mind a stroll in a city park with manicured grass and an abundance of flowers. Your dog will be walking on nailgrinding asphalt and concrete sidewalk. As you move along the path deteriorates into broken asphalt and dirt but the views improve as you reach the jawdropping relics of the Gilded Age - mansions constructed as summer cottages from about 1870 to 1915. Continuing past the paved path, the Cliff Walk turns rustic with some walking on unprotected, open cliff faces and boulder hopping. It requires concentration but any level of canine hiker can negotiate the trip. If you continue to the end of the Cliff Walk you will drop to ocean’s edge and Reject’s Beach where your dog can get a swim. At the end of the Cliff Walk you have the option of returning by the same route along the black Atlantic rocks or exiting into the town and walking back on the sidewalks in front of the mansions whose backyards you have just walked through.

Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Boulders, sand and sea.
Workout For Your Dog - The full canine hike back to your start point will last about three hours.
Swimming - If the sea is agreeable there is the opportunity for an ocean swim.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are welcome all along the Cliff Walk and Poop Bags are even provided at the start on Memorial Boulevard.

Something Extra
Adjacent to the northern end of the Cliff Walk is First Beach, open to dogs in the off-season. There is about 3/4 of a mile of sandy shoreline to hike with your dog here. Also at the beach is the New England Exploration Center with a hands-on touch tank and 1950s-era carousel.

Phone - None
Website -
Admission Fee - None
Directions - The Cliff Walk begins at Memorial Boulevard and ends at the southern end of Bellevue Avenue. In the off-season there may be parking near the northern terminus at First Beach.

The Hiking With Dogs group on Facebook is the place to post photos and info on your favorite canine hikes. Also get questions answered and find advice from members: join now

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chesapeake Arboretum

places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail - Chesapeake VA

The Park
In 1985, Abby Hughes and Wade Long, both Chesapeake Master Gardeners, hatched a plan for a city arboretum that would be a cross between a botanical garden and natural classroom. For years the nonprofit Chesapeake Arboretum Inc. searched for a suitable location but it wasn’t until 1996, thanks to a recent city ordinance requiring developers to dedicate natural features in exchange for the ability to build higher concentrations of homes. Just such a natural area was preserved in Oak Grove along a meandering stream and the 47-acre Chesapeake Arboretum became a reality. Most of the property survives in a mature hardwood forest but 5 acres have been dedicated to demonstration and research gardens.

The Walks
The Chesapeake Arboretum group wanted a location in a residential area that would afford easy access to the most people and they certainly found it. This linear park stretches for more than one mile, squeezed in between thousands of homes. Step ten paces off the trail at almost any time and your dog is liable to find himself in someone’s backyard. But the magic of this place is that you never know it on your canine hike. The woods are so thick and varied - you could spend hours trying to locate the 100 or so identified species of trees and bushes - that you feel as if you are in a much larger woodland. The richness of the flora promotes almost a tunnel effect in places where the trails narrow. Your dog will find the going easy on soft dirt and woodchip paths. All the terrain in the Arboretum is flat. For the most part the trail works along both sides of the brook for a total loop of over two miles. But the water is crossed by five bridges so you can give your dog any length of outing here.

Where The Paw Meets The Earth: A detailed trail map is available at the parking lot kiosk.
Workout For Your Dog - Up to an hour or more is possible.
Swimming - A neighborhood retaining pond located on the east side of the trail will do the trick. It is not pretty but your dog won’t notice on a hot day.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are welcome in the Arboretum and poop bags are provided.

Something Extra
The Chesapeake Arboretum office resides in an early 18-century farmhouse. Around the farmhouse are several theme gardens anchored by shade trees. Over by the parking lot give your dog a chance to sniff the antique rose garden.

Phone - (757) 382-7060
Website -
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Chesapeake; From I-64 take Exit 290 a/b for Battlefield Boulevard (Route 168) South for 2.25 miles to Gainsborough Square. Turn left at the light and continue .2 miles until the road ends. Turn left onto Oak Grove Road and another immediate left into the Arboretum parking lot at 624 Oak Grove Road.

The Hiking With Dogs group on Facebook is the place to post photos and info on your favorite canine hikes. Also get questions answered and find advice from members: join now

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tyringham Cobble

places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail - Tyringham MA

The Park
A cobble, the term is thought to derive from the German word kobel meaning rocks - is a rounded, rocky hill formed of bedrock, not glacial debris. In the case of Tyringham Cobble, geologist Daniel Clark discovered in 1895 that the rocks on the top of the knoll were older than those strewn around the bottom. He concluded that the cobble had broken off a nearby mountain and flipped over during a great geological cataclysm 500 million years ago. Pioneer farmers cleared most of the Cobble by the 1760s. Members of the Shakers owned an extensive 2,000-acre farm in Tyringham by 1840 where they pastured cattle and sheep. The last of the frustrated Shakers, tired of trying to grind money out of the rocky soil, had sold out and moved to other communities by the end of the century. In the 1930s a conservation group calling themselves “The Cobblers” purchased much of this land to thwart a proposed ski run. In 1961, their leader Olivia Cutting James died and left her part of the Cobble to the Trustees of Reservations with an expressed wish that the surviving tenants do the same. And so they did in 1963.

The Walks
Hiking the two-mile loop trail, with its blend of open-fields and mixed hardwoods, on Tryringham Cobble is one of the best hours you can spend with your dog in the Berkshires. Your exploration begins in an open field where cattle graze as they have for 200 years. Then comes a fairly rigorous climb to summit where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of a quintessential New England valleyscape. Rather than race back down the slopes the trail juts back into the hill to join the Appalachian Trail for a spell and views in the opposite direction. As you drop down the Cobble along a fenced pasture don’t let the distracting views take all your attention off of the slippery cowpies that mine the path.

Where The Paw Meets The Earth: There is a basic map and information board at the trailhead;
the trail is marked on the Cobble.
Workout For Your Dog - Climbs up and down.
Swimming - None.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are welcome to hike at Tyringham Cobble.

Something Extra
Does your dog have any herding instincts? You’ll find out at Tyringham Cobble where you may find yourself hiking with a free-ranging herd of Hereford cattle.

Phone - (413) 298-3239
Website -
Admission Fee - None
Directions - Tyringham; From Route 20 turn west onto Route 102 West (towards Stockbridge) and then immediately turn left onto Tyringham Road. Follow into Tyringham and turn right onto Jerusalem Road. Entrance and parking are on the right.

The Hiking With Dogs group on Facebook is the place to post photos and info on your favorite canine hikes. Also get questions answered and find advice from members: join now

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trap Pond State Park

places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail - Laurel DE

The Park
Trap Pond is a small portion of the Great Cypress Swamp and features one of the northernmost natural stands of baldcypress trees in North America. In the late 1700s a millpond was constructed to power a sawmill to harvest the valuable lumber. During the Depression in the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps of the federal government put men to work building diverse recreation facilities. In 1951, 14 years after the Delaware legislature authorized the development of the state park system, Trap Pond became the first state park to welcome visitors.

The Walks
The 5-mile long Boundary Trail completely circles both the 90-acre millpond and the baldcypress swamp. There is a mixture of natural and paved surfaces and the flat trail is very easy to walk. Note that to complete the loop requires a short walk on Little Hill Road. For canine hikers not interested in a complete circumnavigation of Trap Pond there are short one-mile trails on opposite shores. The Island Trail on the western shore visits the shoreline and actually onto one of the namesake islands in the pond before leading back into the forest. On the opposite shore the Cypress Point Trail meanders along the edge of the swamp.

Where The Paw Meets The Earth: Natural trails and dirt roads
Workout For Your Dog - Minimal elevation changes
Swimming - The best access is from a wooden dock on the south shore
Restrictions On Dogs - None

Something Extra
Hiking through Trap Pond State Park is an experience like no other in Delaware - your walk in the atmospheric swamp could easily be in the Louisiana bayou. Marvel in the quiet beauty of the baldcypress - one of the few trees capable of living in the water. Each tree sends out small stumps known as “knees” in every direction to help keep from drowning. The boardwalks on the Cypress Point Trail enable you and your dog to get close up views.

Phone - (302) 875-5153
Admission Fee - Yes, May to October
Directions - Laurel, Sussex County; 5 miles east, off Route 24 between Route 13 and Route 113. The park is one mile south on Trap Pond Road (Road 449).

The Hiking With Dogs group on Facebook is the place to post photos and info on your favorite canine hikes. Also get questions answered and find advice from members: join now

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Topsail Hill Preserve State Park

places where you won't be able to wipe the wag off your dog's tail - Santa Rosa Beach FL

The Park
Topsail Hill is the most intact coastal ecosystem in all of Florida. The state moved to protect this unique natural area by purchasing 1,637 acres here in 1992. There are 14 identifiable ecosystems, including freshwater coastal dune lakes, wet prairies, scrub, pine flatwoods, marshes, cypress domes, seepage slopes and 3.2 miles white sand beaches - the remnants of quartz washed down from the Appalachian Mountains. Topsail Hill gets its name from the landmark 25-foot high dune that resembles a ship’s topsail.

The Walks
Topsail Hill is the best place that you can take your dog for an extended hike along the Gulf of Mexico. The trail of choice is the Morris Lake Nature Trail, a 2.5-mile balloon route laid out through ancient coastal dunes. The dunes trail is wide open and exposed to the elements so bring plenty of water for your dog on a hot day and since every step of the way is across glistening white soft sugar sand, your dog will get a workout any time of the year. In fact, look for iron tracks laid down during World War II that allowed heavy trucks to travel across the thick sand when these dunes were used as a bombing range. Morris Lake is one of three freshwater coastal dune lakes on the property. These rare oases are found only along the Gulf Coast in America and while tempting to visit for your dog, are inhabited by alligators. The trail climbs briefly into a Florida shrub community where your dog can find some shade among the sand pines and shrubby oaks before finishing along the Gulf of Mexico beach. If your dog isn’t spent from an hour on the Morris Lake dunes there is more hiking available in the other direction to Campbell Lake. This trail can also be accessed from the main entrance and campground and your dog won’t be allowed to finish the entire 5.2-mile loop (it tracks along the beach) but she can reach the broad, flat lakeside.

Where The Paw Meets The Earth: A trailmap and interpretive brochure can be found at the trailhead and directional signs decipher the faceless dunes.
Workout For Your Dog - Several hours possible.
Swimming - Alligators live in the lake.
Restrictions On Dogs - Dogs are allowed on the trails and in the campground but not on the beach.

Something Extra
In the days of sailing ships, turpentine was critical to the upkeep and preservation of wooden boats. The word turpentine derives from the terebinth tree, from whose sap the spirit was originally distilled. In early America, the tree of choice for turpentine was the old growth longleaf pines found across the South. To get the sap to flow, a deep V or “cat face” is cut into the side of a tree and gathered in a clay pot hung from a nail in the tree. The sap is then boiled and the turpentine residue collected. You can see cat face scars on trees still living in the preserve.

Phone - (850) 267-0299
Admission Fee - Vehicle entrance fee
Directions - Santa Rosa Beach; the main entrance is on CR 30A, one mile east of US 98, but the entrance of choice for most dog owners will be via Topsail Road from US 98, west of the junction with CR 30A.

The Hiking With Dogs group on Facebook is the place to post photos and info on your favorite canine hikes. Also get questions answered and find advice from members: join now