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Dog-Friendly Hiking in AZ

I’ve had this post requested a ton, so I finally decided to make a post about my favorite dog-friendly trails in Arizona!

Dogs and I off Waterline Road in Flagstaff

Before I kick things off, I want to remind everyone that in the summer it gets hot. I personally don’t take my dogs hiking if it’s over 80 because they hate the heat, but you know your dog‘s threshold. That being said, I would highly recommend keeping fur friends at home when it’s 90 degrees or above. And, as a reminder, Phoenix trails are closed for dogs once temperatures reach 100 degrees and higher.


Also, please make sure to pick up after your pup! And, that doesn’t mean leaving the plastic bags on the side of the trail, carry the wag bags out!


Finally, please make sure to keep your pup on a leash for their safety and the safety of others! Last year we were hiking in Flagstaff with the dogs and we ran into a huge bear! We quickly turned around and luckily had bear spray with us! But, on our way down we ran into multiple people who were hiking with dogs off leash. You don’t want your dog to be off leash and run into a bear, mountain lion or other big animal.


With those disclaimers out there, let’s get to the trails!

 

Flagstaff Area


Flagstaff is 4-season hiking for us because Charlie LOVES the snow. We also love to stop by the Cornish Pasty Co. in downtown Flagstaff after hikes because they’ve got a great dog friendly patio.

Here are some of our favorites:


Bismark Lake via AZ Trail

This one is a doozy but it’s a full day of beauty! If you really want to see some pretty forest, I highly recommend this one. Plus, you get to hike on the AZ Trail, which is pretty awesome in my book.


Pack plenty of water, the trail ends at around 9,000 feet so you’ll get dehydrated easier than lower elevation hikes. It‘s also an out-and-back hike so you don’t have to hike the whole thing if your pup gets tired!


Trail Beta

Distance: 16.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,975 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE

Lockett Meadow/Inner Basin Loop


Aspens are a fan favorite with my dogs (and me) so we love Lockett Meadow both in the summer and fall! Charlie is also a huge hammock fan so we usually bring a hammock to lay in as well. If you’re feeling super ambitious you can actually take Lockett all the way to Waterline Road, but it’s a lot longer of a hike so know your pup’s abilities before tackling that one!


Trail Beta

Distance: 3.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 839 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


Fatman’s Loop Trail


This is a great option to introduce dogs to the higher elevation hiking. With an easy 2.4 miles and 561 elevation gain you can see how your pup is handling the trail.


We like this one in winter, actually, because it has moderate/mild snow since it’s closer to town. This is an easy quick one to take the pups on.


Link to AllTrails info HERE.


Two Spot Loop


Another super easy trail but I had to add it for any senior dogs! It’s also super pretty when wildflowers are out in the fall!


Trail Beta

Distance: 2.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 95 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


 

Verde Valley and Central AZ


There are TONS of great trails in the Verde Valley and Central Arizona. In fact most of the trails in Sedona are dog friendly. And, because of the mild temperatures all year you can hike in the Verde Valley most of the year!


Bell Trail (also referred to as “The Crack”)


This trail is near and dear to my heart because it’s right by my hometown of Camp Verde. I don’t recommend doing this trail in the summer because it can get incredibly hot and a good chunk of the trail is in direct sun.


Early spring and late fall are my favorite times to do this trail. As a disclaimer this trail has become very popular in recent years so keep that in mind if you decide to do this one. Also, watch out for poison ivy near the creek, you definitely don’t want to leave itching!


Trail Beta

Distance: 6.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 587 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


Fossil Creek*

*Note: As of writing this, Fossil Creek is currently closed due to a wildfire that occurred this year (2021). I’m including it for future reference and optimism that it reopens soon.


Fossil is one of Charlie’s favorite places because he loves to swim! We typically opt for the easier Waterfall Trail with him so he can get some good swimming in!

You do need a permit to visit once it reopens, so check online before you head out! You can grab permits HERE.


Trail Beta

Distance: 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 249 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE



Horton Creek


Horton is a fan favorite in any season for dogs because it’s a gradual trail and you have the sound of the creek the entire way. Also, it’s nice to visit Payson, you get the nice pines with the added plus of a soothing perennial creek!

We actually really like this trail in winter because it is quieter and less crowded.


Trail Beta*

Distance: 8.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 2,437 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE

*I recommend stopping once you get to the spring. The trail is steep and pretty nonexistent past that point. The spring is approximately 3 miles in.


West Fork


Of course you can’t mention awesome dog hikes without mentioning West Fork!


While it’s a fall colored heaven, it’s also amazing in the summer and a great hike to allow your pups to hang out by the creek!


I make sure to do this trail at least once a year with the dogs because they always have a blast. Plus, there’s great tree cover to prevent them from getting over-heated.



As a reminder, make sure the pups don’t drink from the creek due to bacteria and also make sure they potty away from the creek!


Trail Beta

Distance: 7.8 miles

Elevation Gain: 728 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


Fay Canyon Trail


Fay is a great place to take your pups in Sedona because the trail is mostly shaded and it’s not as busy as some of the other trails. I typically don’t like to take the dogs on really busy trails in Sedona because sometimes they can be narrow and have a ton of other dogs and it’s a lot of stop and go.


I also like to avoid trails when I know that they are heavily utilized by mountain bikers. A lot of the trails have blind curves and sometimes those bikes can come down the trail really fast so be careful if you do have your dog on a busy bike trail.



Trail Beta

Distance: 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 383 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


 

Phoenix Metro Area


As I mentioned earlier, Phoenix hiking is best done with dogs fall, winter, and spring. Since these trails are in the desert, be mindful that a lot of them don’t have shade and you’ll need to bring a ton of water for your pup.


Tom’s Thumb

Tom Thumb is dog central. Somemes, I think that there are more dogs here than people! In the spring there are amazing wildflowers lining the trail. And if you can make it out there on a cloudy day, the colors of the desert will pop!


Make sure your dog is super dog and people friendly for this one because the trail is narrow and you're guaranteed to see a ton of dogs here!



Trail Beta

Distance: 4.0 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,237 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


South Mountain

There are literally hundreds of trails on South Mountain and they’re all dog friendly! We like a ton of them, but a good one to start is the Holbert Trail.


Trail Beta

Distance: 4.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,115 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


Sunrise Peak


This is a nice trail to get away from the crowds. There was literally one other person we passed. This was one of Charlie‘s first hikes!


This one is over near Fountain Hills so it’s a great option if you want a quick hike!

Trail Beta

Distance: 3.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,112 feet

Link to AllTrails HERE


 

Of course, there are TONS of trails in AZ, so I couldn’t include them all here. But, I’ll list a few more of my favorites around the state for you to check out:


- Peralta Trail (Supersition Mountains near Phoenix)

- Molino Basin Trail (Tucson area)

- Mt. Baldy Crossover Trail (White Mountains)

- Brown Canyon Trail (Sierra Vista)


 

Dog Hiking Gear Favorites


Below are links to some of my favorite things to bring on the trail when hiking with dogs! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

One of the most important thing for me when hiking with Charlie is a good harness! Any sort of harness with a “handle” at the top is best for controlling him near cliffs or on busy areas of the trails. This harness from Ruffwear is one of the best out there.

Ruffwear Webmaster Harness

Another great option is the Kong Ultra Padded Harness. You can find it, along with my Amazon Hiking List for Hiking with Dogs by clicking HERE.


When we’re on the trail we use a collapsible dog bowl. This one from Ruffwear is great and easy to stash in your bag.



Ruffwear Collapsible Bowl

As I mentioned Charlie detests being hot. A handy item to have to keep him cool on those spring or fall days that get a little toastier than we’d like is a dog cooling vest. You just soak it in water and then put it on and it keeps your dog much cooler! A must have in AZ.


Ruffwear Swamp Cooler Dog Vest


A dog medical kit is also super smart to have, especially when you’re hiking in the desert near cactus. One of the best ones out there is the Adventure Ready Dog Medical Kit.


Sometimes we have Charlie carry his own water or food if we’re hiking all day or camping. The OllyDog Rover Pack is a great pack where you can fit some water bottles, wag bags, treats and food.


For camping or extended breaks we sometimes like to tether Charlie to give him room to roam. This tether system from Ruffwear is a climbing inspired rope system so you know it is tough!



For bigger dogs, or ones who like to pull, I highly recommend a leash with stretch like the Roamer Leash from Ruffwear.





 


I hope this post was helpful in planning some doggy adventures! As always, if you have any questions comment below or send me a message!


Happy trails and wagging tails!

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