This is the most comprehensive, detailed guide to dog-friendly hikes in the Bay Area (and beyond). Unlike other sites, this is not just a catalog, because:
Each hike has been personally tested & reviewed by myself and my dogs.
Every hike has my own photos and little-known information from first-hand experience, along with parking info, trail maps, regulations and everything you need to know about the park.
For those days you're looking for something different, I've included some scenic walks, dog-friendly disc golf courses, train rides, campsites and restaurants.
I created this site because I don't like to leave my dog at home and I love finding new adventures. I've tried every hiking site out there, and they just weren't comprehensive (or accurate) enough. Hopefully this site will encourage you to bring your dog along on more adventures with your entire family. Check out each individual adventure page. Also included is my custom, interactive Google Map, if you're trying to find a new hike in a certain area. Enjoy!
As you may know, my best furry friend, Bailey, who inspired this website and is pictured in nearly all of our adventures, passed away in August 2020. I've been heartbroken but received so many kind words from followers who love this website that it has given me the inspiration to keep updating. Although I don't have as much time as I used to, I'm still trying to post new hikes. I'm pleased to announce that there are over 200 dog-friendly hikes & other adventures on my website! I have nearly tripled my destinations since my launch. I hope to continue to grow at such a fast pace, but I'm only one woman with one dog! Each destination is dog-tested and approved by Bailey and/or Roxy/Keisha and I! Enjoy!
Check out our new "vacation spots" section with hikes outside of Northern California. I will continue to expand this section.
The below section will give you updates on our recent hikes. You can find more detailed information on them under their individual pages. We will continue our travels and posting cool places along the way, so don't forget to follow us!
June 3, 2023 Tiburon & Hippie Tree We spent the day hiking all over Tiburon, including our favorite hike (Old Saint Hillary's), and then exploring a couple new ones. We finally made it to Hippie Tree and it is worth the hype. You can enjoy the most scenic swing you've ever seen after a quick 5-10 minute hike. You'll have two sturdy swings to choose from with incredible views of the Bay, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. There are also a bunch of connecting trails you can continue on after enjoying the swing, and not many people know about them.
June 2, 2023 Heron Bay This morning we enjoyed a leisurely 2+ mile walk at Heron Bay. We love this place because not too many people know about it, yet it offers incredibly scenic trails. We like to explore the lesser-traveled dirt trails along the canals, and today we also walked down to the beach and along the shoreline. This is a great spot for birdwatching and you can even see the planes come into the airport. The main trail connects to the SF Bay Trail, so you can walk for as many miles as you'd like. To the right, you will reach Marina Park and to the left you will reach the Hayward Shoreline.
May 28, 2023 Don Castro Regional Recreation Area & Cull Canyon This morning we hiked Don Castro in Hayward - a 100 acre park with trails surrounding a large lake. I haven't hiked these trails in a long time, and things have changed. Because of storms, many large trees (mostly eucalyptus) have fallen. There are a couple places where large clusters have fallen, leading to trail closures. Unfortunately there is no longer a way to hike a loop around the lake, but we managed to hike a couple miles exploring the trails that were passable. Runoff from the lake has created a little-known waterfall below, which I was glad to see is still flowing freely. It's a bit difficult to find this spot, but I've provided a map below. When you drive in, head to the upper parking lot and stay to the left. You will see a trailhead marker for the Whispering Creek Trail next to some brown horizontal fencing. Head behind the fence and down to the left. The trail is a bit overgrown, but continue to follow it down and straight ahead until you hear the water. You'll see the waterfall from a distance, then head up the hill on the left and it will snake down to a clear view of the waterfall.
We also checked out Cull Canyon, and I was a bit disappointed because they have diverted water from the lake, so it's definitely not the scenic hike it used to be. Apparently the park is trying to figure out how to deal with sediment. Despite that, it's still an enjoyable, short hike.
May 13, 2023 Mori Point The wildflower blooms are incredible at Mori Point right now. You don’t need to go all the way to Southern California to see a superbloom, so this is definitely worth a visit. We hiked a roughly 2 mile loop (and added a few other random trail explorations). Here are my tips: *Arrive before 8am to beat the crowds and find parking. By 10am there was no parking anywhere in the surrounding neighborhood *Go to the lookout point first (as this gets most crowded), then hike one of the loops. There are lots of wildflowers along the less crowded loops, as well as incredible ocean views, and you can choose your distance. See map below for another great (less crowded) wildflower spot about 1 mile in. You can see on the first map that there are a number of different trails you can loop back on, depending how far you want to hike. *Bring hiking poles. If you hike one of the loops, the hike back down is slippery, rocky and difficult no matter which trail you take. *Bring lots of water as there is none available on the trail. *Stay on trails and keep dogs on leash- preserve the beauty! *Check out Nick's down the road for the BEST post-hike crab sandwiches
May 11, 2023 EBMUD Trails - Moraga We went for a beautiful 7 mile hike in Moraga around the reservoir, starting at the Valle Vista Staging Area. This hike requires an inexpensive permit, which must keep people away, because it's never crowded and we practically had the trails to ourselves. We saw a lot of wildflowers and wildlife (rabbits, birds, moles, lizards) and they even have a large horse stable less than 1 mile into the hike, so it's always nice to see the horses. The beginning of the hike is mostly flat and hugs the rim of the reservoir, and then begins climbing uphill and has a nice change of scenery as the trail becomes shady, lined with colorful ferns and vibrant green moss-covered trees. There are several views of the reservoir from above as the trail peeks outward around bends in the trail. We intended to hike the entire ~7.5 mile King's Canyon Loop, but unfortunately we ran into a herd of cattle on a narrow stretch of trail about 3.5 miles in, so we turned back. I have a slight fear of cattle, as I've been chased by them while hiking before. I always make sure I give them their distance, and despite this, it was still a very beautiful hike. The section of the trail skirting the rim of the reservoir is the most scenic part of the trail anyway, so I don't feel that we missed out on much. You can make this hike as easy or challenging as you like, and I highly recommend it.
May 5, 2023 Lake Temescal This morning we went for a quick hike at the tranquil Lake Temescal. You can find a variety of trails here, from an easy loop around the lake to a more challenging hike up the surrounding hills. I find the west side to be the most scenic because a large portion of the east trail is along the highway. So our quick hike this morning was one mile long, beginning from the Broadway Terrace parking lot. We took the shady West Shore Trail along the water, and then looped back by going uphill and taking the Oak Bay Trail back. There's a short but steep scramble up to the Oak Bay Trail, but it's worth it for a new perspective and a change in scenery. The views from above are stunning, and the upper trail is lined with flowers and towering redwoods. This hike was approximately 1 mile with 111ft of elevation gain.
April 28, 2023 Benicia Last weekend we decided to explore some trails in Benicia, and we found some beautiful waterfront parks, a dog-friendly beach, the marina, and we even stumbled upon a classic car show! I used to regularly attend several classic car shows in the Bay Area, but I hadn't previously heard about this one. It was huge! And it couldn't have had a more beautiful backdrop. Most of the cars had views of the water or bridge in the background, and there are plenty of connecting trails along the route to extend your visit. They even had a bunch of food trucks, so you could spend the day here. Make sure you mark your calendar for next year!
While exploring the waterfront, we found a hidden (dog-friendly) beach, and we also checked out a cool park with views of the Bay and the Carquinez Bridge.
April 8, 2023 Brushy Peak Regional Preserve It's been a while - but I'm bringing you a new hike! It's so difficult to find new hikes that aren't already on my site, but we recently found a beautiful park in Livermore. I know what you're thinking, but this park was completely different than I expected. It had lush, green hillsides, multiple huge ponds, running streams, beautiful rock formations, breathtaking views and even windmills! We went on a challenging 4.5 mile hike with 750ft of elevation gain, but it was worth it for the view from Brushy Peak!
February 24, 2023 SNOW in Oakland! Today we hiked in a winter wonderland...in Oakland! This was definitely a first for us. Not hail or frost but real, actual flakes of fluffy snow falling from the sky! On our drive up, sections of the road were covered in a thin layer of snow, and roofs and cars were blanketed in snow in some areas. I have a small car, and it was fine driving on the roads, but I just drove slow. Several of the park entrances on the way up had frost on the ground but it wasn't until we drove up higher and arrived at Sibley Volcanic Park on Skyline at about 8 AM that we found actual snow. There was snow at the entrance (6899 Skyline Blvd, Oakland), and it kept falling in larger flakes. Roxy was bundled up, but she's not used to the snow and started shivering after about a half hour, so wevgot back in the car and turned the heater on. It was a very cool experience - I haven't seen this and I've lived my entire life in Oakland.
February 20, 2023 Anthony Chabot This short but moderate hike is great for when you're looking for a quick workout on a beautiful trail without the crowds. This hike is only half a mile, but has 200ft of elevation gain in a short but steep trek up the hill. We started our hike off of Redwood Road at the Big Bear Staging Area. There's plenty of parking, and short walk down the trail will take you to a trailhead to the right for Big Bear Loop. This trail is almost entirely covered by trees, but when you reach the top, you'll have a few chances to view the hills from the distance. Much of this trail is lined with moss and beautiful green ferns. On the way down, you'll pass a stream and might even see a small seasonal waterfall. The trail ends at Redwood Road, and a short walk down will return you to your car. You can easily extend this hike by crossing the street from where you parked into Redwood Regional or continuing down the trail to McDonald Gate.
February 17, 2023 Redwood Regional - Ladybugs! (Alternate viewing area) You still have time to see the ladybugs! Now that the lower entrance of Redwood is finally back open, we decided to hike the more popular route to see the ladybugs, from the lower entrance at Redwood Gate (off of Redwood Rd). You can definitely see why this entrance was closed for so long - there was a lot of storm damage they are still cleaning up. This is a beautiful hike along the stream, and the majority is flat with some gentle elevation gains. However, this round trip hike was much longer than the hike from the top, and there were only a small percentage of ladybugs on the trail compared to the congregations on the upper trail. We hiked along the Stream Trail and saw signs posted for the ladybugs right before Prince Trail (about 1.6 miles in). It was a bit of a letdown compared to what we saw previously when we started from the top and hiked down. You'd have to hike about a mile up to get to that spot, and the trail becomes much steeper after you pass the Prince trailhead. Overall, this hike was about 3.2 miles with 200ft of elevation gain. If you start from the upper trails (see my Jan 20th post), it's only 1.4 miles round trip, although a bit more strenuous but worth the hike! The upper trails appeared to be almost entirely covered in ladybugs on both sides in some spots, but this lower spot just had a few clusters here and there.
January 27, 2023 TRAIL ALERT (Closure) : Leona Heights Park - York Trail This trail has always had downed trees and obstacles to transverse, so I was curious to see how it held up after our recent storms. Sadly, a large portion of the trail is washed out approximately .33 miles in (right before the 4th bridge/trail split to Merritt College). This section of the trail has always been very narrow and a bit sketchy, but now there is no way to safely cross this portion. I suspect it will be a long time before this can be repaired, since the whole hillside essentially washed away. You can still hike from the upper trails of the park, or you can hike the side trails up if you start from the yellow fire gate approx. 400 yards down from the main entrance (away from Leona Lodge). However, I would not recommend starting from the top and trying to hike all the way down. Personally, I find the trail along the creek above the closure to be very steep with loose rocks and would be extremely difficult to hike that direction. Hiking a full loop is no longer possible. The short .33 mile hike up to the washout is still a beautiful but short hike. You can extend your hike from the other entrance mentioned above, or cross the street where you'll see a sign for "overflow parking." You can walk around those trails, cross the Highway 13 overpass and follow another trail into the neighborhood. There's another park there, McCrea Memorial "the trout pond," but dogs are not allowed. We managed to hike/walk about 1.5 miles by walking to the washout and then exploring some of those side trails.
January 20, 2022 Ladybugs at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park! Did you know a group of ladybugs is called a loveliness? If you experience what I saw today, you'll understand why! Today we enjoyed a beautiful hike at Redwood Regional, on the search for ladybugs. They usually congregate here for a few months out of the year, but with all the rain and cold, I wasn't sure I'd find them. I was sure surprised when I found them only about a half a mile into my hike! I found them congregating on several sections of Stream Trail, on both sides, for about a quarter mile down the trail. However, the largest congregation of them appeared to be on the left side (across from the stream), a bit before the Eucalyptus Trail. I started my hike at the Skyline Gate Staging Area and hiked down Stream Trail (which you can find towards the right of the parking lot). The first approx. 0.4 miles is a steep hike down with some muddy sections, so make sure you have good hiking shoes. You'll reach a sign for the Girl's Camp, and then the trail continues to your left. After a couple bends in the trail, you should begin to spot ladybugs on both sides. This section of the trail levels out and is mostly flat. We hiked down about 0.3 miles more to the and noticed the largest concentration of ladybugs on the left side, a bit before the Eucalyptus trailhead. We hiked down a bit further, but if you're just going to see the ladybugs, your round-trip hike will be about 1.4 miles with 350ft of elevation gain. Your hike starts at about 1200 ft, dips down to about 950ft, and then climbs back up to 1200ft where you started. Be prepared for a short but steep hike back to the parking lot. We arrived on a Friday morning and the parking lot was packed, so make sure you arrive early. Right now the lower entrance to the park is closed due to storm damage, so you cannot access this trail from that entrance. Starting from the top is the quickest route anyway.
Parking: Lot at Skyline Gate Staging Area
Trail: Stream Trail
Dogs on leash
Distance: 1.4 miles (out and back)
Elevation gain: 350ft
See the custom map I created below to find the ladybugs.
January 16, 2022 Harbor Bay Trail & Park Closures It’s been a while since we posted, but we managed to get out to Alameda during a break in the rain this weekend. We enjoyed views of the Bay, and since the trail is almost entirely paved, we didn’t end up covered in mud. We started at the Ferry and continued our walk down to the old Raider’s training facility. There’s a nice pond there and since it’s mostly office space past the hotel at the end, we had that area all to ourselves. The walk was 1.8mi out and back. You can extend your walk even farther, past the golf course, and even loop back around if you're up for it.
There are a lot of East Bay trail closures, and several parks are entirely closed due to storm damage. Make sure you check the park website before you head out!
November 6, 2022 Greenbelt Trails Yesterday definitely felt like fall as we hiked 7 miles of beautiful trails in the Hayward hills. Much of the trails were lined with beautiful falling multi-colored leaves, vibrant green ferns and moss, and many streams ran along the trails. We began our hike from the parking lot next to the Hayward Plunge and hiked our way all the way up to the hills of Hayward (1,100ft of elevation gain). Most of this hike had mild hills mixed with mostly flat stretches so it didn't seem too bad until we reached the last quarter mile, which was definitely left us with sore calves today. But it was totally worth it for such an incredible hike. We spent nearly 4 hours on the trails and practically had the place to ourselves, only passing a couple people and no other dogs. This hike is perfect for a reactive dog, because all dogs are required to be on leash and not too many people know about these trails so it doesn't get crowded.
Unfortunately there's now a small homeless encampment near the trailhead, and we had to pass a couple groups of very aggressive dogs (luckily on leash). The first quarter mile of the trail had a lot of garbage surrounding it and even in the creek. I would actually recommend making this into a shorter hike, at a little less than 4 miles, by parking your car on the shoulder of Oakes Drive (off of Campus Drive) and hiking the loop East Avenue Trail and Ward Creek Rd. Trail. There's plenty of street parking and you'll still enjoy a beautiful hike without the garbage or having to worry about the aggressive dogs at the Wally Wickander Memorial trailhead.
A few favorite adventures from over the past year:
August 29, 2022 Road Trip! - To Catch a Canoe I know we haven't posted in a while. I've been sick. But we are going on an exciting road trip! First stop, dog-friendly kayaking! I will post more when we return.
August 4, 2022 Anthony Chabot & Redwood Regional Park We recently hiked Anthony Chabot, starting from McDonald Gate Staging Area. This is a shady entrance in the Canyon off of Redwood Road. I like this area because there are multiple trails to choose from, both in Anthony Chabot as well as Redwood Regional Park. These trails start off shady and are lined with colorful moss and ferns. From the staging area, we began on the MacDonald Trail and took the Bird Trail loop (1/3 mile shady loop with some cool bridges). You can continue on MacDonald Trail for miles up along Redwood Road. From the McDonald staging area, you can also take the short trail on the other side of the parking lot to Big Bear Staging Area. You'll find a marked trailhead (Big Bear) about half way through, which takes you up along the hillside for a little less than half a mile. If you want to extend your hike, from the Big Bear Staging Area, cross the street at the cross walk and you'll be in Redwood Regional Park. You can hike along the Golden Spike Trail or take one of the steeper trails up to West Ridge and to the main trails in the park.
July 31, 2022 Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park & Joaquin Miller Park We had a magical early morning hike in the Oakland Hills and lucked out with stunning scenery! I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was misty and foggy when we arrived, making for a surreal hike. The towering redwoods provided a canopy from the elements, but it was still muddy and a bit wet. We started our hike from Redwood Bowl at Redwood Regional and then crossed the street and continued our hike in Joaquin Miller Park. These two parks provide countless trail options whether you're looking for an easy stroll or a steep, challenging hike.
April 2, 2022 Point San Pablo Harbor This is a fun one - most people do not know this magical place exists. Tucked away near the tip of San Pablo, after a decent drive through vacant land and abandoned Navy buildings, you'll find an incredible sculpture park. This park features five large-scale art pieces (10ft+ tall) that have been moved from the Burning Man festival. The sculptures are hand made and have intricate details, some with special features you'll have to know about to find before your visit. In addition to the small sculpture park, you can continue your walk on a trail along the water and even explore a small beach. This is a great spot to hang out in the afternoon or early evening because the restaurant, Black Star Pirate BBQ, is right next to the sculpture park. They also have live music (Fri-Sun). There is plenty of outdoor seating around the sculptures and the restaurant even has vegetarian and vegan options. There is a community of people living here, so please be respectful of residents. This park is difficult to find, so click below for all the details.
March 31, 2022 Mendocino Headlands State Park A few steps away from the beautiful historic town of Mendocino, you'll find this breathtaking park featuring miles of coastal trails along the bluffs. The main, scenic trail is mostly flat and winds along the bluffs for a 4 mile out and back walk. This trail has elevation changes of only about 90ft. This hike surrounded me in so much beauty that I was speechless, which is a rare occurrence. The coastal trails are surrounded by vibrant green fields dotted with wildflowers and turquoise water as far as the eye can see. This place reminded me of Maui and is a wonderful stop for a picnic.
March 19, 2022 Navarro River Redwoods State Park It's been a while since I've posted, but we went on a road trip a few weeks ago, so I'm just now getting around to the write ups and I'm bringing you some cool new adventures. Navarro River Redwoods State Park is a 660-acre park along Navarro River, which runs for 11 miles along highway 128. This is a beautiful drive through the redwoods, but it’s difficult to find trails. The first time we realized we drove through the entire park just looking for a trailhead! We found that you have to leave your vehicle to find trails, as signs are often sunken 50ft in from the road, often covered by vegetation and therefore not visible or barely visible from the highway. The difficulty of finding trails and lack of available information make this park special, because not many know about it. When we visited we only ran into one other person during our entire hike. And we also found a secluded swimming hole with turquoise water!
July 5, 2021 Rancho Corral de Tierra We just discovered a magical hike that I highly recommend. This is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area's newest incorporated land, but few know about it. It is over 4,000 acres, but the park is split by private farmland and most trails are unmarked. I've been meaning to check out this park for a while now, but after much research, I couldn't find a lot of info on this park, and the trailheads I researched all looked sketchy. I'm so thankful I decided to drive around until I found a great trailhead and mapped out a hiking loop. I'm bringing you a magical ~3 mile hike that takes you up 900ft into the mist and fog and feels like you're entering the clouds. This hike will make you feel like you've been transported to Hawaii or a scene in Jurassic Park!