Have you ever considered how far you walk with your dog? If you walk just 15 minutes a day you will have walked far enough in your dog’s lifetime to cross the United States. With all that walking ahead of you, aren’t you ready for a new place to take a hike with your dog in northern Virginia? Here are NOVA’s best trails to hike with your best friend…
1. Sky Meadows State Forest
When you place your park on the Blue Ridge Mountain mountain slopes far removed from eight-lane roads clogged with traffic you have to work hard not to be the best place to hike with your dog in Northern Virginia and Sky Meadows does not disappoint. The real star here are the meadows – your dog can’t hike through any better.
2. Mason Neck State Park
A half-dozen canine hiking options through an attractive oak/holly forest on paw-friendly soft dirt are pretty enough you will want to complete them all with your dog. If you have time after lingering on the best beach for your dog in Northern Virginia.
3. Prince William Forest Park
The many miles of wooded trails in the largest swath of protected land in the Washington DC metropolitan area are refreshingly uncrowded – always an attraction for canine hikers. The trails are wide enough for a pack of dogs to travel easily over and well-marked.
4. Great Falls Park
You may come for the spectacular views of the Falls of the Potomac but you’ll stay for the canine hiking on wide trails that take your dog through a variety of habitats and the ruins of a Colonial canal town. Hold the swimming for someplace else, however.
5. The Battlefields of Manassas
Two five-mile interpretive hikes examine the year-apart clashes of the North and South across this Civil War battlefield. For your dog these hikes offer the best mixture of open field and wooded trail hiking in Northern Virginia.
6. Claude Moore Park
This eastern Loudoun oasis serves up a pastiche of a dozen short trails that add up to more than ten miles of canine hiking. You get your choice of two trails that circle the park, both of which visit Little Stoney Mountain for long views at Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland.
7. Fountainhead Regional Park
Fountainhead is a trail user’s park. there are trails set aside for horses and for bikes and the white-blazed pedestrian trail is a snaking, two-mile excursion around wide ravines and through airy woods. For real canine adventures you can set out on the 18-mile Bull Run-Occoquan Trail.
8. Leesylvania State Park
There are three loops to enjoy with your dog in Leesylvania – the star being the Lee’s Woods Trail. This canine hike packs history aplenty into its two sporty miles atop the bluffs overlooking the Potomac River. For easy hiking with your dog take the Potomac Trail as it weaves through the former waterside amusement park that was part of the gambling gambit. Plenty of beach and swimming time for your dog here too.
9. Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
Few places in America pack as much scenic wonder and historical importance into such a small area as Harpers Ferry National Historic Park where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers join forces. Your dog can sample hikes in three states here – up the mountain at Maryland Heights, through the town in West Virginia and across the Appalachian Trail in Virignia.
10. Mount Vernon
America’s most-visited home is dog-friendly to the core – the gate attendants provide a bowl of water for canine visitors. George Washingtn would have it no other way. The Father of Our Country is also the Father of the American Foxhound. He bred a new type of fox hunter with dogs from his friend Marquis de Lafayette and English hounds. The President favored silly names for his beloved dogs: Drunkard, Tipler, Tipsy.