Before I had kids, I had my puppy. She was everything to me, and everyday we’d take to the trails. Now, she’s older and the kids take up more of my time, but Summit and I still like to get out for a hike or walk. The Seacoast region offers a lot of great trails for you and your pup to try! Here’s what you should know before heading out on my these 5 dog friendly Seacoast hikes and nature walks.
What you should know
Whether you are new to taking your dog on hiking trails, or just need a refresher, here’s some things to keep in mind.
Find Out if the Trail is Dog Friendly
Do your research. Not all Seacoast trails are dog friendly. Some do not allow dogs at all and others require leashes. Some also require dogs to be on leash only part of the year (or even part of the day). To find out, check the website of the land trust, park, or property manager to find out. You can also check Seacoast Hikes on instagram or facebook – trails listed on these sites or in the book give information on dog friendliness.
What to Bring
Hiking with your dog means you have to pack a few extra things. In addition to my own water, first aid, extra layer, and snack, I also pack the following for my dog:
- Dog bowl- usually a tupperware container
- Water for dog- a liter for a half day hike
- Treats- for enforcing positive behavior
- Dog first aid- tweezers, alcohol wipes, benadryl (consult vet on dosage ahead of time), dog friendly bandages
- Insect Bite Protection- dog friendly bug spray and/or collar
- Waste bags – enough to carry out multiple poops
Leave No Trace
In the last place I lived, dog waste is the number one pollutant in local waterways. Dog owners are responsible for removing waste of their pet both in town and also in the woods. Plan to pack out the poop. And PLEASE…do not leave filled poop bags on the trail. Even if your intention is to remove them on the hike back, too often they are left out. I like to double or triple bag my dogs poop and attach it to the outside of my pack with a carabiner clip. It’s not pretty, but it’s part of the job when you’re a dog owner.
For the safety of your dog and others, it’s important to have control of your dog. Expect that others will not be comfortable with meeting a dog (even if it is friendly). For some, control means a harness, collar, and leash. For others, voice control is enough to keep their dog away from cautious others.
Here are 5 Dog Friendly Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks:
Wagon Hill Farm – Durham, NH
Take your pup on this easy 1.6 mile perimeter loop through forest, meadow, and along Great Bay. This trail system offers free parking, porta potties at the trailhead, picnic area, and interpretive signs. Dogs must be on leash at all times except from dawn to 10 am daily. If you go during this early time, you will likely meet some new furry friends as many owners meet to let their dogs play. For more information check out their website.
Stratham Hill Park – Stratham, NH
This is one of my favorite places to take my pup. There are over ten miles of total trails in the park for you and your dog to explore and many of the areas can be off leash. Dogs must be leased in parking lots, ball fields, lawns, and the privately owned lands, but the rest of the park allows dogs to be off leash as long as their are accompanied by an owner and under the command and control of them. As a result, this is a great place to get your pup tired out! Overwhelmed by all the trails? Check out the town website or follow the moderately difficult 4.1 perimeter loop hike described in Seacoast Hikes and Nature Walks.
Rockingham Rail Trail – Newfields, NH
The Rockingham Rail Trail is a 28 mile one way path from Newfields to Manchester and a great place to take your pet. This is a multi-use trail so plan to see cyclists, joggers, and other dog walkers. It is also stroller friendly. Dogs must be leashed. I like to enter the trail in Newfields trailhead at the intersection of Ash Swamp Road and Old Route 108 train station.
Fort Foster – Kittery, ME
Fort Foster has it all – miles of trails, ocean, picnic area, playground, and history! Dogs are allowed in the park year round from sunrise to sunset and leashed when the parking is open for the season. As a result, it is possible to take your dog there off leash in the off-season and after hours by parking outside the gate and entering on foot. For more information, check out the Kittery town website.
Stonehouse Forest, Marison Trailhead – Barrington, NH
The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire (SELT) runs and manages the awesome trails near Stonehouse Pond in Barrington. Dog rules state that dogs must remain under the control of owners so off leash is possible if your dog is well trained. I liked to park on 202’s newer Marison Trailhead because it’s less crowded than the popular pond entrance. From here, you can take the trails over toward the pond or enjoy the stroll through the woods on the moderately difficult Marison and Bog Trails to make a 2.7 mile loop. For more information and a trail map, visit the SELT website.
Stay Safe and Have Fun
The rewards of watching my dog enjoy the trail and us both get some exercise is definitely one of the highlights of being a dog-mom. I feel fortunate to live in a place where there are so many trails we can explore together. If you have tried these 5 dog friendly Seacoast hikes and nature walks and want more, check out my past posts about Seacoast trails or get the ebook trailguide.