- Cliff Young
Our Favorite Dog Friendly Parks & Trails in Pennsylvania
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Not all parks welcome man’s best friend, but here are a few good ones that do!
If there is one thing that we at True Blue Outdoors and our readers are more passionate about than the outdoors, it may be our dogs. Dogs, dog-ohs, puppies, puppas, waggles, schmoos, whatever you call them, we’re crazy for them. So when we get to marry both of them into the same activity, it’s as close to a perfect day as we can get.
However, not every outdoor enthusiast is as equally enthusiastic about dogs. That, combined with safety and health concerns, means there are some public parks and hiking trails off-limits to our four-legged children. These concerns are understandable and should be respected by everyone spending time at these locations. Thankfully, there are enough dog-friendly parks and trails that we could write a book about it. In lieu of such a book, we would like to cover a few of our favorite ones here, with more to come in the future.
Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center
Wind Gap, PA
With over 18 miles of hiking and biking trails, Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center is a great place for hikers to bring their dogs (or horse if they have one) throughout the year. Less than 30 minutes from Bethlehem, PA, this park not only has great trails but also has beautiful water features as well. With Bushkill Creek running through it, this park has a fun watering hole for you and the pup to splash around.
With plenty of dog-friendly options and both historical & entertainment sections only a few miles apart, Bethlehem is a great town to get lost in for the weekend. Don’t be surprised when you see this area referenced again in future dog-friendly hiking blogs as this part of the state is full of great hiking options for you and Mr./Mrs SloppyDrinks.
Gettysburg Military Park
First, I’d like to start by saying a weekend visit to Gettysburg is super underrated! Maybe it was the field trips we took as kids, where we had to listen to adults talk about a battle that was over 100 years old for an entire afternoon. Combine that with a bagged lunch your parents made that didn’t age well over the course of a long bus ride and multiple long stops at fields that all looked the same to the eyes of a 12-year-old. Now, throw all of that in with the fact that no one was allowed to bring their dog and it was not the most enjoyable field trip in the world.
However, it ranks high on our list of dog-friendly hiking destinations due to the number of well-maintained walking/hiking trails and the amount of history that can be found on plaques and statues throughout the park. All of that, along with great shopping, entertainment, & plenty of dog-friendly locations to stay, means you can’t go wrong with a dog-friendly visit to Gettysburg Military Park.
Tiadaghton State Forest - Golden Eagle Trail
Slate Run, PA
Tiadaghton State Forest is 146,539 acres in the Pennsylvania Wild’s region that spans five counties (Lycoming, Tioga, Clinton, Union, & Potter). The Golden Eagle Trail is an approximately 10.6-mile loop that includes some beautiful year-round forest and river views. Dogs are able to use the trail but must be kept on a leash for their safety (from the occasional bear or rattlesnake) and the safety of other hikers.
This is not the only dog-friendly trail in the heart of the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, but the views and location make this one of our favorites. For near-by accommodations, we recommend you check out the cute little town of Wellsboro. There are multiple dog-friendly accommodation options, shops, and entertainment, as well as a great dog-friendly restaurant named “The Roost” where you can get some food and cocktails with your dog at one of their outside tables.
Ohiopyle State Forest
Ohiopyle was one of the first parks I thought of when I decided to write this story. My wife has family in Uniontown and the greater Pittsburgh area and whenever we go out there for a visit, Ohiopyle is one of our traditional stops (along with walks along the Riverfront after watching the Pirates lose).
Ohiopyle is a beautiful park located south of Pittsburgh in Fayette County with great trails and beautiful waterfalls. The Youghiogheny River Gorge is the main river that cuts through the heart of the park providing some great whitewater rafting and photo opportunities.
For first time visitors, I suggest getting started with The Great Gorge Trail. At almost eight kilometers, it does have some pretty heavy traffic at times but offers a number of activities and waterfalls that you and the schmoos can enjoy. With a total of 79 miles of trail and views that change with the seasons, this is a park that rewards you every time you come back to visit.
The park is about an hour's drive south of Pittsburgh, which is a great dog-friendly city with plenty of accommodation options as well as shops & entertainment. If Ohiopyle isn’t on your dog-oh hiking list, get it on there.
Loyalsock Trail is one of the more difficult trails on this list but is possibly the most rewarding. With close to 55 miles of trails, there are a number of beautiful vistas and picturesque waterfalls that any social influencer would love to post on Instagram. The difficulty comes in the form of fairly steep ascents/descents which can be quite a work-out with a full backpack. But we feel that it's these challenging sections that make the sights that much more rewarding.
Not only are dogs permitted on the trail, but off-leash hiking is also permitted for dogs that have mastered voice commands. However, we must caution off-leash hikers that the area does have a healthy population of bears, porcupines, and rattlesnakes.
And what can we say about Williamsport? It is a cute little city surrounded by beautiful mountains and plenty of shopping & entertainment options. The Brickyard has a beautiful outdoor seating area and will bring out a water bowl for your pooch while you enjoy cocktails and a bite to eat in this charming courtyard setting. If you wish to come and visit at the end of summer, make sure you arrange your accommodations early in the year as Williamsport is famous for hosting the Little League World Series which brings in visitors from all over the world.
*For additional information on rules and guidelines for bringing your pets to state parks, click here.
*If you have any suggestions, reviews, or stories about places you enjoy going to with your dogs, please share it with us. And check back in with True Blue Outdoors for future stories on this topic as Pennsylvania is rich with beautiful trails and sites you can enjoy with your pets all year long!