Best Dog Hikes North Carolina  by Melissa Watson

Best Dog Hikes North Carolina Guide Book

by Melissa Watson (Falcon Guides)
Best Dog Hikes North Carolina  by Melissa Watson
Whether you have one dog, or ten, whether they are inseparable or independent, they will love getting outdoors and exploring the trails of North Carolina. Whether your dogs are experienced hikers or new to the trail, whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a strenuous trek, there’s a trail for you. And what better way to enjoy the great outdoors than with your best friends, your pampered pups, your canine companions at your side? Spending quality time on the trail together will bring pure joy to you both; it’s a win-win. While you enjoy the scenery, dramatic views, flowing waterfalls, and pristine lakes, they get to explore, taking in the fresh new sights, scents, and sounds of the forest, dipping their paws in a clear mountain creek, or running free on a long sandy beach, happily wagging their tail every step of the way.

© 2016 Melissa Watson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Dog Hikes North Carolina" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 60.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 60.

All in all this is a lovely stroll through Andy Cove, and over the short distance of this hike, you’re treated to quite a few unique man-made and natural features. The loop begins by climbing and leads you across an elevated boardwalk and suspension bridge. The trail then heads down into Andy Cove and follows a tiny clear-running creek. The dogs enjoy playing in the water, while a variety of birds serenade you. Toward the end of the hike, the Exercise Trail merges onto the loop trail, where it remains for the final 0.1 mile.
Brevard, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.6
Within the Uwharrie National Forest this is the only trail dedicated solely to hikers. The other perk is that this lengthy loop trail gives you the best of both worlds. It keeps you near the shoreline while the forest protects you from the sun’s rays. The trail is easy to follow, and there are several swimming holes where both you and the dogs can enjoy a refreshing dip in the inviting Badin Lake.
Troy, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.4
Just outside the quaint little town of Blowing Rock, in a remote access area of Moses Cone Memorial Park, is the Bass Lake Loop Trail. As the name implies, the trail makes a circle around the lake. The wide gravel roadlike path is flat and easy to follow, and with each season that passes, the lake paints a new portrait for you to enjoy. The hike begins near the restrooms, which is convenient, because there’s a water fountain here, so you could fill up your drinking water. A trail map gives you a good picture of the other trails in the area, but if you’re staying on the Bass Lake Loop Trail, you don’t really need a map. The trail literally makes a loop around the lake, following the shoreline the entire way. The map shows that this is one of the original “carriage trails.”
Blowing Rock, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Running parallel with a lively creek, you’ll find cascades, moss-covered rocks, and downed trees keep you entertained. As you hike through the damp forest, you’ll pass over rolling hills, with a few quick climbs. Once you reach Big Laurel Falls, you’ll be stunned at how beautiful it is. The falls beckon you to brave the chilly water and take a dip in the inviting pool. The second you step out of the car, you can hear the creek fl owing strong, luring you into the forest. The trail leads you down some log steps and across the lively creek to a T. The left is the Timber Ridge Trail. Go right, following the wide muddy path west and downstream. The creek is full of character, with tiny waterfalls, rapids, and cascades. Moss-covered rocks and downed trees all add to the scenery. Along the path you can’t help but notice there are several amazing massive trees.
Franklin, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Resting on the northern banks of Lake Phelps, Pettigrew State Park is full of activities both on and off the water. The Boardwalk Trail begins near the picnic area and leads to the swimming pier. The water is shallow enough for you and the dogs to take a dip. Past the pier, the path continues on to Somerset Place. Although dogs aren’t allowed inside the buildings of this historic homestead, you’ll still enjoy a visit as you step back in time.
Creswell, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Nestled in a neighborhood within the town of Greensboro is this amazing little piece of paradise. The heavily wooded area is more like a forest than a garden, but either way, it’s remarkable and among my favorites. Wildlife and birdlife are abundant, and the variety of trees is phenomenal. Stunning views of a small lake are obtained from an overlook, and benches are built into the boardwalk so you can take it all in. The Bog Garden Trail begins as a wide cement path and enters a thick, dense forested area that keeps you shaded the entire hike. Paths weave throughout this wonderful wooded nature preserve, so it’s easy to get turned around. However, the area is small, so if you do get mixed up, you’ll quickly regain your bearings. This compact patch of forest truly is a hidden gem. Wildlife is abundant, and the property is a designated bird sanctuary.
Greensboro, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
Whether you have an RV, school bus, or are an individual wanting to hike, the lovely Julian Price Picnic Area has plenty of parking. The trail follows Bee Tree Creek and Boone Fork for a few miles. If you’re not up for hiking the full loop, you can make this an out and back. Either way, you and the dogs are sure to enjoy it. Within the recreation area you can camp, hike, paddle, or fish from the banks of the glorious Price Lake.
Blowing Rock, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.2
Within view of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, you’ll find a lovely little rustic picnic area along the edge of Buxton Woods. Tables, trash cans, and a pair of vault toilets near the trailhead give you a place to grab a snack before heading into the forest. Interpretive signs along this loop trail educate you on the flora and fauna found here. This hike makes a nice pit stop as you make your way up or down the Outer Banks. Be sure to visit the lighthouse while you’re here.
Buxton, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.75
Within the fabulous North Carolina Arboretum, this hike leads through a diverse forest over easy rolling hills. Signs along the way not only identify the flora, they actually explain how nature works. Toward the end of the hike, you’ll reach a few places where the dogs can romp around and splash in the creek. There’s even a bench and a cascade so you can enjoy the water as much as the dogs.
Asheville , NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.9
Within E. B. Jeffress Park, a small recreation area off the Blue Ridge Parkway, this hike is advertised as a leisurely walk, but that’s simply not so. It begins as a stroll through the forest with interpretive signs identifying a variety of flora. You then cross a footbridge near some cascades, which is a great place for the dogs to play in the creek. Beyond the footbridge keep them on a tight leash. The trail leads past the brink of Cascades Falls and then steeply down to a pair of overlooks amid this 200-foot waterfall.
Purlear, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.9
Shaded the entire way, this pleasant hike leads you up to a splendid little waterfall, and then continues to climb as it circles around John Rock. Although you can’t see John Rock from the trail, you can view it from the parking lot before you begin. The forest is fantastic, and you’ll make several creek crossings at the beginning and end of the loop. The middle 2.0 miles of the hike have no natural water sources, so bring enough drinking water for you and the dogs—especially since this is the most strenuous section of the trail.
Brevard, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.25
At the southern tip of Croatan National Forest, near the mouth of the White Oak River, is the Cedar Point Recreation Area, and the Cedar Point Tideland Trail is certainly a highlight. The trail is comprised of two adjoining loops—a 0.6-mile short loop and a 1.3-miles long loop. The long loop gives you outstanding views of the tideland where the coastal forest meets the salt marsh. The recreation area also offers paddle trails, a fishing pier, a small-craft boat launch, a picnic area, and a campground.
Cape Carteret, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.4
Tucked away between the quaint mountain towns of Highlands and Cashiers you’ll find the Chattooga River Trail. The trail follows the river for a quarter mile before leading you to an outstanding sandy beach on the river’s edge. The water is calm enough to let the dogs swim, and the beach is big enough for them to run and play. Beyond the beach, the trail continues for another 2.75 miles, but follows the river from up above.
Highlands, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.5
Within Cliffside Lake Recreation Area there are hiking trails, a fishing “pier,” a swimming beach, and of course the splendid lake itself. A trail connects the neighboring Van Hook Glade Campground to the recreation area, giving campers easy access and making this a great place to stay. The flat, easy trail loops around the lake, following the shoreline most of the way. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the “people swimming area,” there are ample opportunities for them to take a dip in the lake.
Highlands, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Boone’s Cave Park is famous for its notable namesake: Boone’s Cave. But when you visit the park, you realize there’s more to see. The Yadkin River borders the park to the west, and a canoe launch offers access to explore the waterway. There’s a campground, a picnic shelter, and an eighteenth-century log cabin. Over 5.0 miles of hiking trails lead through the forest and along the river’s edge. And the feature trail leads to the tallest Eastern Cottonwood Tree in the state. At 169 feet tall and 16 feet around, it’s an impressive sight.
Salisbury, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
Leading to one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the region, Courthouse Falls is simply intoxicating. Breathtaking scenery lures you in as the water flows over a rugged rocky cliff before forming a pristine swimming hole of crisp green mountain fresh water at the base. The dogs will enjoy wading around in this powerful, yet tranquil, creek and climbing on the rocks that line the banks. Bring a towel; you may find it hard to resist the temptation to take a dip yourself.
Balsam Grove, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
Although this hike begins on a rather mundane gravel forest road, be patient. It leads to three fantastic waterfalls, each with its own unique characteristics. After visiting the first two falls, you’ll leave the gravel road and enjoy a fantastic hike through the forest, leading you to the base of Cove Creek Falls. As you hike up the gravel forest road, the “trail” seems quite mundane and doesn’t offer much hope. I assure you, it’s worth it. Follow FR 809 uphill, and as the road leads across Cove Creek, there’s a footbridge to the right, so you can keep your feet dry.
Brevard, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
Following the edge of a long, narrow cove on the eastern edge of Lake Wylie, you’ll enjoy stunning views while the dogs have several opportunities to splash around in the clear green water. At the southeastern edge of the queen city of Charlotte, and nestled along the banks of Lake Wylie, the McDowell Nature Preserve gets you back to nature without you ever leaving the city. Visitors enjoy a nature center, campground, fishing piers, picnicking, and playgrounds. With 8.0 miles of hiking and two boat ramps at Copperhead Island, there’s something for everyone.
Charlotte, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
To reach Crabtree Falls is challenging, leading you on a steady descent, but the falls are absolutely gorgeous and well worth the effort. A single tree stands at the base of the falls, while the bold creek swiftly passes it by. A bench built into a footbridge at the base is a perfect place to take in the scenery while the dogs enjoy sniffing and playing around in the creek.
Little Switzerland, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.3
Dill Falls is easy to reach, and the creek near the base of the falls is shallow enough for the dogs to tip-toe around in. A narrow path along the banks is fun for them to explore, while you do your best to get pictures of them near the falls. Standing at 50 feet, the waterfall is quite unique. This two-tiered beauty free falls from the top, and then when the water splashes down on the rocks below, it continues to form a cascading waterfall that rolls over the rocks to form the creek below it.
Balsam Grove, NC - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.4

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