Outdoor activities such as rock climbing and hiking have continued to grow consistently in popularity since 1916, when the United States government created the National Parks System. In 2016, there were over 42 million people who utilized state and national land for recreation. There has also been a growing movement of people who take their pets on hikes, either for safety or companionship. In the state of Alabama, where park systems see consistent visitation of more than 4 million visitors every year, there are many pet-friendly trails and parks that those passionate about both their pets and local outdoor adventures will love.
Dog Parks for the Soul
Dog parks are a great way to socialize your furry friend, and give him the exercise that he needs to prepare for a longer, more rigorous outdoor excursion later on. In Alabama, there are many off-leash dog parks that allow your pet to run and play freely, such as the Orange Beach Dog Park. These vary in many ways, with some dog parks nestled into corners of urban areas, while others sprawl miles from the cities, through more heavily forested areas. Depending on your pup’s age, breed, and activity level, you should have no problem finding the perfect dog park to serve their need to run. When dogs have the opportunity to run, play, and socialize with other dogs, they are often much more well-behaved at home and tend to act out troublesome behavior less often.
Day Hikes for Practice
Before taking your pet out to the trails, be sure to properly prepare yourself and your dog for whatever may happen, such as dehydration or first aid. Once you have planned, prepped, and stocked up on snacks, there are many great day hikes to explore with your pooch if you are just starting out, but want to get a taste of adventure. Alabama boasts an impressive selection of shorter trails like the 5 mile Mountain Mist Trail in Monte Sano State Park, just northeast of Huntsville. This trail is both dog friendly and heavily trafficked, meaning that you will not be stranded if something goes amiss.
Longer Hikes and Backpacking Trips
Once you have introduced your pet to a few day hikes and you are both feeling confident about your ability to tackle a multi-day backpacking trip, consider the Appalachians. Alabama is perfectly situated on the southern tip of this iconic mountain range, and trails such as the Heflin Spur of the Pinhoti Trail start in Alabama and follow the mountains north into Canada. While this might be a bit ambitious for a first time backpacker, having the option to commit to the outdoors with your pooch is a great goal to work towards. If you are still unsure, there are many medium-sized trails that are more rigorous than a day hike, but not quite a multi-night backpacking adventure.
You will never forget your Appalachian adventure, the athleticism it required, or the beautiful scenic countryside. Additionally, you will be thankful for your dog’s companionship, loyalty, and support while you embark on the greatest adventure of their (and yours!) lives.
Categories: Geek Alabama Pets Stuff