Dogs make great hiking partners. They are always excited, available when your friends aren’t, and you don’t have to coordinate meeting them at the trailhead.
Learning to trust each other out in the woods is a great bonding experience for you and your dog. Hiking is also a great way for both you and your pup to stay healthy or get in shape. Plus, there’s nothing like collapsing on the couch to snuggle with your dog after a great day out on the trails.
I’ve been hiking with my dogs for over 10 years, and I almost never go without them. I’ve been on, or know about, most of the dog-friendly trails in Western Washington, North of Seattle. These are three of my favorites:
Easy: Gold Creek Pond
Distance: 1.2 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 10 feet
Terrain: mostly flat, ADA-accessible paved trail, boardwalk
Highlights: The amount of effort required is not proportional to the beauty you’ll discover along this trail. This former gravel-pit-turned-alpine-lake is as beautiful as those you typically have to hike over 5 miles to see. The views of Alpine Lakes Wilderness to the north from the picnic area is stunning.
How to Get There: Take I-90 east to Exit 54. Exit the highway and turn north, crossing under the freeway. A few hundred feet north of the highway interchange, turn right onto a narrow paved road (FR 4832) and drive east parallel to the freeway for 1 mile. Turn left on Gold Creek Road (142). Turn left in 0.3 mile into the Gold Creek Pond parking lot. A Northwest Forest Pass is required.
Easy-Moderate: Barclay Lake
Distance: 4.4 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Terrain: rolling ups and downs, packed dirt, log bridge, mud holes
Highlights: This trail will hold your interest the whole way. In the spring and summer, the trail is surrounded by ferns, berries and wildflowers. Year-round you can find mossy trees, mushrooms, and a few surviving old growth trees. On the way to the lake you catch glimpses of Barclay Creek and Gunn and Merchant Peaks. Barclay Lake is nestled at the foot of impressive and towering Baring Mountain. There are a few campsites at the lake and it’s not uncommon to see people fishing from the shores.
How to Get There: From Monroe, head east on US-2 to the town of Baring. Near milepost 41, and across from a convenience store, turn left (north) onto 635th Place NE. Cross the railroad tracks and keep left on 635th Place NE. The road becomes FR-6024; continue 3.9 miles to the trailhead. A Northwest Forest Pass is required.
More Challenging: Heather-Maple Pass Loop
Distance: 7.2 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Terrain: mostly climbing or descending, packed dirt, loose dirt, rocky
Highlights: Most people will smile and tell you how amazing the wildflowers are in the spring and summer or how pretty the larches are in the fall. Personally, this trail is one of my favorites because you can see the North Cascades mountain range from the pass. Since Dogs aren’t allowed on the trails in North Cascades National Park, this is one of the best views of the interior of the park you will get with your dog.
How to Get There: From Seattle, drive Hwy 20 through the town of Marblemount and on towards North Cascades National Park. After approximately 50 miles, the Rainy Pass trailhead will be on the south (right) side of the road. There is also a parking area on the north side of the road if the main lot is full. A Northwest Forest Pass is required. Note: The North Cascades Highway is closed during the snowy season, typically December to May. Check road conditions before you go.
Jessica Williams is the author of an award-winning blog about hiking and traveling with small dogs – YouDidWhatWithYourWiener.com – and a pet-focused social media consultant. She’s a native of Western Washington, lives in Seattle with her husband and two miniature Dachshunds, and organizes two of the largest active dog Meetup Groups in the area. Visit PetTalkMedia.com.