Hiking with Your Dog in California

It’s been a crazy year with so many restrictions starting back in March due to COVID-19 and now National Forest closures because California is in the middle of fire season. These new complications along with our normal Southern California topography and weather make it important to plan when it comes to hiking, especially hiking with your dog.


Research the right trail for you and your dog. Whether you have been hiking your entire life or a beginner, hiking with your dog is an activity for everyone. However, you want to make sure that you take both your and your dog’s fitness levels into account when you decide to go on a hike. Luckily, there are so many resources available online to do research.

My favorite to start with is AllTrails. AllTrails lets you know the distance, elevation gain, and even the scenery of a lot of trails all over the place. Plus, you can filter hikes by whether or not they are dog friendly, which if hiking with your dog is definitely important. 

I personally enjoy trails that are on the shorter side–around 3 to 5 miles with less than 500 ft elevation gain per mile. I also look for trails that have a lot of shade and either a waterfall or some other scenic element to enjoy.

A photo looking down at a dog jumping onto its owners legs and a second photo of a dog walking next to its owner on a leash

Pack Just in Case

Pack like you could end up stuck. While unlikely, when hiking you want to prepare for the worst, which means bringing snacks for both you and your dog. Having a favorite bag of Earthborn treats is a must. I also always make sure to bring lots of water, and living in Southern California it is a must. There are a ton of trails that don’t have any water, so be sure to pack enough for you and the pups. 

It’s important to bring a first aid kit as well. Your first aid kit should have supplies for both you and the pup. Here, a dog friendly antihistamine is important because it is one way to help your dog in case of something serious like a rattlesnake bite. Another supply I bring is something to carry my dog out in case they are injured and can’t walk on their own. These are things I bring with me every time I hike. 

Check the Weather

Every year there are stories of someone losing their pup to heat exhaustion. Whether it’s winter, summer or somewhere in between, check the weather. California is known for its beautiful days. But those beautiful days mean we have 90 degree days in December and hotter days in the summer sometimes. And you don’t want to get stuck on a long trail with no shade in triple-digit weather. And trust me, there are plenty of those in the state.

A dog sits on the side of a trail on a hike in southern California

Favorite Hikes

Here are my top three favorite hikes in California:

Sturtevant Falls, Chantry Flats, Angeles National Forest 

Big Horn Mine Trail, Valyermo, Angeles National Forest

Millard Falls, Altadena, Angeles National Forest

Have Fun!

Have fun! You are out enjoying nature with your bestest of friends, so take the time and bond with them. Enjoy it as much as they do.

In the area? Check out our dog-friendly guide to Arizona!