Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds can romp through the woods and trails for a hike to get that much needed energy boost as summer fades into the sunset. Any or all members of the family can engage in a healthy expedition through the fantastic woodlands and parks, and all it takes is to follow the directional signs or secure a map for a trail-blazing experience. The scenic views are priceless, and even though there may be hills to climb and undulations to traverse, dogs and their owners will find the wilderness setting an exuberant adventure. Make sure to come prepared with a cell phone, emergency numbers, first aid kit, leash, compass, GPS app, water and sun protection. Dogs and their owners may find new furry friends and acquaintances on each venture on the trail or park, and what a great way to get together and share stories.
Ohiopyle State Park
171 Dinner Bell Road
Ohiopyle, PA 15470
If your looking for a fantastic destination that dogs and their owners will savor, then a trip to Ohiopyle State Park in the Laurel Highlands is an historic choice. There are enough trails of different mileage that will meet the skill levels of both dog and owner, and all that is needed is to choose the one that is safe and easily traversed. That selection abounds with wildlife, plants, natural areas, Ohiopyle Falls and scenery for a sightseeing dream for all dogs, walkers and hikers. The Great Allegheny Passage is part of the Rails-to Trails Conservatory, and a hike along the surface of the trail is suitable for dogs and families. The canopy of trees and babbling waters make for a perfect setting to enjoy the vistas of the surrounding area. The park offers opportunities for fishing, rock climbing, picnics, biking, boating and water slides that will make for a full day of activity. Don’t forget to download a map of the trails, so you can decide what is feasible in distance and security.
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304 Hickman St, Suite 3
Bridgeville, PA 15017
The Montour Trail is a walk or hike with a natural welcome of scenic beauty under the smooth, crushed limestone for lucky paws and their owners. The trail is connected to the Great American Passage, and the voluntary trail patrol ensures there are notifications and work done for the enjoyment of the hikers with all safety alerts in place. The planning is apparent with signs and stations located at intervals for stops to procure food, water or lodging. The pets need to be on a short leash, and the owners must be aware that any waste must be cleaned up and deposited off the trail. There is a travel book available that shows maps for mileage and elevation changes. Check for any events, such as the Tails to Trails Fun Walk that highlights the viability of dogs to share hiking experiences with their owners.
Mingo Creek County Park
3111 Route 136
Finleyville, PA 15332
Owners need to trek on down to Washington County and bring along your favorite bow-wow for a glorious hike at Mingo Creek County Park. Dogs can rest their paws at a facility that is spotless, well kept and landscaped to let them run free off-leash. Families will feel just as comfortable, as the park offers an opportunity to fish, picnic at the pavilions and playgrounds, and traverse a covered bridge leading to a wooded area and trails with moderate elevations that are perfect for dogs to stretch out in a large space. A loop trail guide is available with GPS routes for navigating the terrain for a short hike that is less than two miles or a more vigorous destination of five miles.
1981 Beechwood Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
The call of the wild isn’t in a remote center in another country, but the wilderness setting at Frick Park gives the feeling of serenity near the center of Pittsburgh. Dogs will romp in the dog-friendly confines of the park and all the wooded and natural atmosphere make for a hike to be enjoyed in the fresh air. The trail is divided into categories with the Tranquil Trail the easiest of the three choices, but active pups can venture over to an intermediate or difficult trail. There are moderate elevations and the trails intercept with each other, but the directional signs will direct you on the correct path. Families can enjoy the amenities of the park and the kids will enjoy the playground and ball fields. There is an off-leash area for dogs to get acquainted with other doggie friends and owners.
1 Riverview Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15214
Hold on to your precious furry friend, as Fido may just take off to chase the lovable creatures of the park in a race for staking out a claim within the wooded trails of Riverview Park. Dogs and their owners will find a series of trails that are hilly at certain sections, but the natural beauty of the park can make that an easier task. Even though the park is near the city, there is a feeling of a natural setting with trails that meander in curves and creeks that any dog would love to sniff for an adventure or to meet a new friend. There are opportunities for families to engage in taking a dip in the swimming pool or view the historical landmarks. Spread out a blanket for a picnic and don’t forget a dog treat, and then lay back and listen to the sounds of the wilderness and hope that Fido doesn’t take off again into the scenic boundaries of the park.
Gerry Cernicky is a retired health and physical education teacher with 36 years of experience. He is a former teacher of the year and a sports writer for the Vandergrift News. He delivers podcasts, and maintains a website and blog. He currently resides in Pittsburgh. His work can be found at Examiner.com.