Last month, we gave you some tips on how to keep you and Fido safe on your upcoming summer road trips. Now that the sun is out, and the temperatures are rising, it is time to get outside and take advantage of the beautiful weather. Whether you are a transplant or a local, it is undeniable that the tri -state area has some of the most beautiful hikes in the country. With so many parks to choose from, sometimes it can become tricky to know which ones are pet friendly. Also, consider if your pooch pal is physically able to make the hike. Dogs who are older, are obese, or are not in optimal shape, may not be able to safely make a hike. If you are not sure if your pet is healthy enough for strenuous activity, check with your veterinarian for an expert opinion. Even when given the green light, it’s best to start slowly and gradually work up to longer and more strenuous hikes.
Land Between the Lakes/Prizer Point Marina- TN/KY
Land Between the lakes has many pet friendly campgrounds. Although most of them do enforce leash laws, they do allow pets on site. If you’re looking for a top-notch pet friendly experience, visit the folks at Prizer Point Marina & Resort. Located just a short distance from the park, the resort sits on 101 acres and is surrounded on three sides by Lake Barkley – you won’t find a spot without a view. The resort has an off-leash area for the dogs and a spot where pooches are allowed to swim, as well as, lots of activities to keep the kids busy!
If you have never spent a weekend trip at Cades Cove, then you are missing the GEM of Tennessee. Located in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, it is one of the most visited campgrounds in America. That being said, it is extremely crowded, but completely worth it. Dogs are allowed at Cades Cove Group Campground, but they must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet when outside your vehicle. Both the original, and the hands free Poo Doo leashes comply with this rule. Make sure and call a year ahead of time to reserve your spot in the park. Most think of Cades Cove as a fall destination, due to the awe inspiring foliage. It has just as much to offer in the summer months- from hiking trails to waterfalls. There are more creeks/trails in a 5 mile radius to explore that could ever be listed here.
It can be tough to find backpack camping grounds (non RV or KOA) that will openly allow pets due to the liability. Rest assured though, there are PLENTY of beautiful day hikes that you and your pooch can enjoy on a hot summer day!
Although you can’t overnight at any listed below, they have been a staple in my Saturday adventures over the years. It is always a must to bring along your Poo Doo hands free leash, Poo Doo collapsible water bowl, and plenty of water for you and your dog. A good rule of thumb is to always offer your dog fresh water each time you take a water break. With the sweltering temperatures in Tennessee, it is imperative you and your pet stay hydrated. Be mindful of their paws as well. Hot asphalt and hot rocks can burn the pads of their paws. Try to park in shaded areas and walk them in the grass when having to park on asphalt.
Cummins Falls State Park
It has become increasingly more crowded over the years, remember to “be a good boy” and always clean up after your pet and respect others who are enjoying the space. I usually try to go to Burgess on off days when it isn’t so crowded.
There are some fantastic trails all leading away from the main falls and creeks that you and your dog can play in!
Burgess Falls State Park
This could be one of my favorite day hikes in Tennessee. It is easily accessible, so if you have an older pooch or one that suffers from hip dysplasia this would be an optimal choice. I haven’t found it to be as crowded as Burgess, but again its beauty is catching on to the masses. It takes only about .3 miles to get to the main fall. The falls empty into a swimming hole that has a dirt slope (as opposed to a rocky bed) into the water making accessibility easy. It is the perfect depth for your dog to play in. Please remember to ALWAYS swim with your dog when near a natural fall. You don’t want your dog to swim too far out, and get caught under the falling water.
Harpeth River State Park
This is a wonderful stop if you are in a time crunch. Located about an hour and fifteen minutes from Nashville towards Memphis. The Narrows are easily accessible and have a small watering hole to cool off in that is perfect for some stick fetching. If you have a kayak it also offers drop in spots if you’re looking for easy afternoon float. This is also a great spot to teach a puppy how to swim due to the shallow warm water. Make sure you always pack a life vest for your pup unless you are 100% confident in their swimming capabilities.
Natchez Trace Parkway
Lets not forget about the Natchez Trace Parkway that offer several trail options! Keep in mind many of these are horse trails as well. They have free printable maps available online www.natcheztracetravel.com for your day hikes or overnight trips.
No dog lover would ever dream of leaving their four legged friend at home while exploring the great outdoors. Just be super mindful of your pet, and their capabilities. When you are hot, remember they’re wearing a fur coat. When you see rugged terrain, remember they don’t have shoes on to protect their paws from sharp rock or thorns. When your dog is having fun, chances are they are not going to interrupt it for anything! Make sure that both you and your dog rest, eat protein rich snacks, stay super hydrated, and stay aware of your own physical capabilities.