Guide to the Best Dog-Friendly Trails in Alberta

Guide to the Best Dog-Friendly Trails in Alberta

By Kelsey KrahnDestinations

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Dogs love to explore the trees and take in new scents, making it fun to go on outdoor adventures together. Watching your dog wag its tail as they trot up a trail is an instant dopamine boost. But then there are the days when you start to get ready, and your heart sinks as you watch their eyes drop and tail lower because they can magically sense that you're leaving on an adventure without them. It hurts leaving them at home!

Thankfully, most of Alberta allows your furry friends to accompany you on hikes and backpacking trips, but some areas forbid dogs due to wildlife control and general safety. You are travelling in bear country, after all.

This guide will highlight some of the best dog-friendly trails in Alberta while also sharing factors to consider before exploring the mountains. For example, some hikes may allow your pup, but the conditions may not be the safest.

Hiking with your dog in Alberta

When researching the best hikes to do with your dog in Alberta, you'll find that most trails permit pups to join you. So the best way to approach this article might be to look at which trails don't allow dogs. I've Googled this many times as a dog owner. Last summer, I quickly learned that three of the hikes I had planned to do in Jasper National Park prohibited dogs, forcing me to swap those three for a combination of other trails (all beautiful, though). So, let's start with Jasper National Park.

Strict dog hiking rules in Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park disallows dogs on some hikes because they want to keep them away from endangered caribou territory—a valid reason. Unfortunately, this means that one of the more gorgeous hikes in Alberta will get crossed off your list of to-dos: Cavell Meadows. The other two hikes are Bald Hills Hike and Opal Hills Hike. And we’re sorry for linking these hikes in the article…because we know you can’t do them…

But! Yes, there’s a but, you’ll get to explore some other breathtaking views and circumnavigate bright blue lakes with your dog. Some hikes I enjoyed with my dog in Jasper were:

Then, there are some pretty incredible viewpoints and stops along the Icefields Parkway where you can take your dog—we walked at Bow Glacier Falls Hike and Peyto Lake Hike, to name two.

Winter hiking with a dog in Kananaskis

Winter hiking with a dog in Kananaskis

What to consider when choosing a hike

Even if some routes allow dogs, they might not have the safest conditions. So, when you're perusing route guides, consider if the hike has chains, steep scramble sections, and rushing creeks. Of course, you might be able to carry small dogs in a backpack as you navigate ropes, chains, and streams, but we recommend being mindful of the factors mentioned above.

Several hikes allow dogs but might not be the best for them. Since getting a dog, two that I've sadly avoided are Tent Ridge Horseshoe and Canyon Creek Ice Caves Hike. You can attempt these, but it might not be the best experience for you and your pup. And we're all about making our canine babies happy, aren't we?

Excellent dog-friendly hikes

Now onto the best part of the article: listing the stunning hikes you can explore with your dog! I've travelled the following trails with my pup. Keep in mind that this is only a snapshot of non-technical routes worth trying:

Again, many hikes allow and grant safe conditions for your dog, but these could be a terrific starting point if you've just got a dog and want to immerse in Alberta's unruly wild.

Backpacking Trails to do with your dog in Alberta

Want to extend your hiking adventures to multi-day trips with your dog? You've come to the right place! We suggest starting with one- or two-night excursions before graduating to longer treks. Just think of all that dog food you'll have to carry on top of your food!

The backpacking trails below allow dogs, but it's essential to double-check if any rules and regulations have changed before you go due to wildlife sightings or other factors.

Group of hikers with a canine friend

Group of hikers with a canine friend

Rules for hiking with your dog

The COVID puppy boom has resulted in more and more owners taking dogs out for hiking adventures. But, some owners have neglected to follow general trail protocol when it comes to walking on designated on-leash trails.

We need to remember that there are children, people, and dogs who may be scared of your dog, even if your pup, in your eyes, is the friendliest dog in the world. Plus, it's never fun or fair for an on-leash dog to encounter an off-leash dog. Ferocious growls and barks usually ensue!

Your off-leash dog not only infuriates other dogs (or non-dog lovers on the trail) but can harm the vegetation off-trail—or attract wildlife to the area. Keep your dog on a leash or go to an off-leash dog park to let your pup run freely.

Lastly, remember to pick up your puppy's poop and throw the doggie bag out.

We hope this article on the best dog-friendly trails in Alberta acts as a springboard for epic adventures with you and your furry friend!

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