Tips for hiking with dogs

Amy Potter, Green Mountain Club (GMC) Visitor Center Manager and avid hiker, hiked the 273 mile Long Trail with her two dogs in 2015. Potter shared her tips for hiking with dogs and some of his favorite places to hike with his dogs in central Vermont. “Hiking with dogs can be fun and rewarding for the hiker and their puppy,” she said.

“It is important to know the rules and regulations surrounding the trails you will be visiting,” she said. “Dogs are allowed on all GMC managed trails, but be sure to check with other property managers before setting out with your dog. Your dog must be under control at all times by voice command or on a leash. Keep in mind that not all hikers like to be approached by dogs, so please respect any request to leave your dog on a leash. Leashes are needed in alpine areas, located above 2,500 feet on peaks like Camel’s Hump, Mt. Mansfield and Mt. Abraham.

“Start slowly until you get a feel for what your dog can handle,” she said. “Look for wide, well-groomed trails with plenty of room for your dog and other hikers. Avoid trails that are particularly steep or contain obstacles such as ladders, stones or steep drops. If you want to take your dog on overnight or long distance hikes, he needs to be trained and prepared like a person would.

She also said it’s important to keep in mind the habitats you hike and the impact dogs have on natural resources. “Dogs can trample on the fragile alpine plants that live here, so they should stay close to you on the marked trail,” she said. “Practice Leave No Trace and clean up after your dog. If the trail is open for multiple uses, including hunting, take precautions to keep your dog safe. ”

Potter offers these day hikes as starting points for hikes with dogs:

1) Smuggler’s Notch via Route 108, Stowe – EASY

3.0 km round trip, elevation gain about 400 feet. “Closed to vehicular traffic in the winter, Route 108 through Smuggler’s Notch offers a nice and easy option for snowshoeing or skiing. Most people choose the Visitor Center at the top of the land as their destination, but those feeling more adventurous can extend the hike to Sterling Pond.

2) Beane Trail to Birch Glen Shelter, Huntington – EASY

2.8 mile round trip, elevation gain of about 600 feet. “From the parking lot, go through the iron gate and follow a farm path through open woods to an intersection where the Beane Trail turns into a more traditional hiking trail. From there the Beane Trail climbs up a gentle, even slope to Birch Glen Shelter.

3) Duxbury Window Trail on the Long Trail – MODERATE

3.2 mile round trip, elevation gain of about 800 feet. “A great option on a clear day. From the parking lot, travel 1 mile south on the Long Trail to a beautiful lookout with a bench. Note: Most of the hike is gradual incline, but the trail is quite steep for a short stretch just before the window.

There are many other trails and areas to hike with dogs in the Mad River Valley, from the rolling hills of the Enchanted Forest in Camel’s Hump State Park to the rough spots of Burnt Rock Mountain.