Image by @voyagewilder
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When the wanderlust sinks in and I am itching for an adventure, there’s always one thing I do first before anything else and that’s deciding where I want to go. Picking your trail can help you plan for your hike. The trail you choose will give you an idea of what to pack, like will you need extra food and water or perhaps a towel, and what to expect for your day, which can make for a more fun, less complicated, safer experience. It can tell you what time to leave for your hike, what your driving time will look like, and even if the weather would make or break your journey.
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Finding a trail can feel overwhelming at times, especially if you are newer to the lifestyle of opting outside and seeking adventure. Finding a trail for your dog can feel even more daunting, but it’s easier than you think! Of course, this will fall a little bit on where you live, as some will have far more options than others, but with these steps, hopefully, no matter where you are, you’ll find the perfect trail for you and your adventure buddy!
Image by @oceanmako
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Step One: Get a dog. Can’t own a dog where you live or based on your situation? Check your local shelter and find out if they do any type of “day fostering,” where you can just take a dog out for the day! It’ll give a rescue dog time out of their shelter and give you a hiking companion. If you have a dog, great! Any dog can be adventurous and picking the trail is of great importance when hiking with a dog.
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Step Two: Look for your adventure. Now, this isn’t as difficult as it may seem sometimes with the amazing technology we have today. I recommend All Trails! You can use it on the computer via https://www.alltrails.com/ or download the app on your phone! It allows you to search your area, get directions directly to the trailhead, see all the details such as mileage, difficulty, as well as if it is dog friendly. You can also read reviews from other hikers on their experience there that will help you better prepare or clue you in to details only someone who has been there will know. It also tells you how heavily trafficked the location is, which can help when hiking with a reactive dog or if you’re simply looking for a more secluded walk.
Other ways to locate a trail would be word of mouth! Ask some friends, in a Facebook group, or even over Instagram to see others in your area’s favorite places to hike! You can also Google trails in your area and some states even have trail books and hiking guides! There is so much information available to those that seek it and many different outlets, so find what works best for you! Personally, I have had my success with hiking apps and Googling the area I wish to adventure. Once you discover the place you’d like to explore, it’s onto the next step.
Image by @idyllwanders
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Step Three: Can your dog handle it? This is where it’s time to be honest with yourself for your dog’s safety. If they haven’t been very active, a long, difficult trek may be best left for a bit later down the road in your endeavors. Stick with a lighter hike for a dog or puppy just starting out. Think about the aspects of the trail. Is there a lot of climbing involved? How much shade is along the trail if the sun will be out? Is there any access to water during the walk? Will your dog be walking on hot pavement or sharp terrain? This step is all about dog safety and it’s up to you to make sure your dog will be protected. If you’re sure your dog can handle the dog friendly trail you’ve picked, then it’s time to pack, hit the road, and brave that trail! With the knowledge you’ve gained about the hike you’re heading to, you’ll know exactly what to pack, where to go, and what to expect so you can just relax and enjoy your adventure with your best friend.
— The Wayfinder