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  • Writer's picturebertandernietheberners

(Mostly) Dog Friendly Hiking in Oregon

We took a dog-free trip to Oregon in July of 2022 and characteristically road tripped all around the state. The keystone of our trip was a wedding in Portland, but we spent time down at Crater Lake National Park and in the Bend area as well. While we didn’t travel with Bert and Ernie on this vacation, we always have them in mind, and when we hike, we think about whether or not a particular trail would be a good one for pups. We always travel with #TeenyTinyErnieBernie whenever the boys can’t join us, so you’ll see our extra small toy Berner make some appearances in photos in this post :)

Whether your Oregon trip includes dogs or not, we hope you have a wonderful time in the Pacific Northwest!

Crater Lake National Park

Known for its iconic blue water, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States! The national park is arranged around the lake itself, which sits in a volcanic caldera. You can drive around the rim, hike up for scenic views of the whole lake, or hike down to the water’s edge.

Most national parks are not particularly dog friendly, but Crater Lake National Park has several areas where pets are permitted. For the most up to date information, check the National Park Service website, and be sure to do this before you arrive as cell service can be spotty. Your pup can become a B.A.R.K. Ranger by following specific rules to protect and respect the natural spaces at national parks.

Remember, you’ll need to pay a weekly entry fee ($30/vehicle in the summer or $20/vehicle in the winter) or have an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass to enter. If you plan on visiting at least 3 national parks or federally managed sites (Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, and US Fish and Wildlife Service lands all count!), the annual pass is the best bang for your buck.

Dog Friendly Hikes:
  • Rim Scenic Drive - This would be our #1 pick if we had brought Bert and Ernie along. Paved and sunny with great views of the stunning blue water and plenty of pulloffs to stop for photos. There are several parking areas around the 33-mile rim where you can stop and walk.

  • Lady of the Woods Trail - An 0.7 mile interpretive trail - look for the carved rock sculpture of the lady.

  • Godfrey Glen Trail - 1.2 mile loop with some HUGE trees.

Not for dogs, but really cool:
  • Garfield Peak Trail - 1,000+ feet of elevation gain over a 3.4 mile out and back trail. We took our time and went slow and steady, making sure to hydrate since we were not yet used to hiking at over 6,000 feet above sea level. Great views down to the lake. Dogs not permitted - some sheer drops and a bit of scramble here and there. We crossed two snow fields that were pretty slippery, even in July.

  • Cleetwood Cove Trail - This is the ONLY way to access the water’s edge! A mile of switchbacks takes you 660 feet down the side of the crater - the equivalent of more than 60 flights of stairs. Going down feels easy, but just wait til you have to climb back up… We stripped down to our underwear to jump in the water (it’s cold!). Watch your step on slippery rocks - I managed to lose a toenail with an ill-placed step, which made for a long hike on the way back. Be sure to bring water since you’ll want to stop and catch your breath as you make your way up to the parking lot. No dogs allowed.

Smith Rock State Park

This Oregon state park is about 30 minutes north of Bend, and you’ll need a $5 day pass to visit the park and its gorgeous rock spires. A bucket list destination for rock climbers, Smith Rock was formed from compressed volcanic ash 30 million years ago.

Leashed dogs are welcome, but be careful of the heat - temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees in summertime. We didn’t find much shade on The Chute Trail or the beginning part of Wolf Tree Trail and the rocky ground would have been hot on paws! Really stunning views - keep your eyes peeled for rock climbers.

Moulton Falls Regional Park (Washington State)

When we visited Moulton Falls, we could not stop talking about how much we’d have liked to bring Ernie and Bert there. More of a nice walk than a rugged hike, the main Moulton Falls path was wide and flat. We saw several sets of parents with strollers as well as folks walking dogs. A few lucky pups were swimming near the arch bridge, too.

The trail runs alongside the Lewis River and the landscape is all lush Pacific Northwest rainforest - gigantic trees, curly ferns, and several small trickling, mossy waterfalls. The trail is a little more than 5 miles out and back, but we didn’t go the whole way. There are bathrooms (flush toilets!) near the parking lot. Moulton Falls is a 45 min to 1 hr drive from Portland depending on traffic. No entry fee.

Wahclella Falls

There’s a reason this is such a popular trail near Portland! Wahclella Falls is about 45 minutes east of Portland along the Columbia River. This 1.9 mile out-and-back hike culminates at a stunning waterfall.

The trail is quite busy and narrow in spots, but accessible for kids and leashed dogs alike. Be aware that the parking lot is tiny, but on busy weekend days, you can join the long line of cars parking on the side of the road up the hill away from the lot and trailhead. Access with your America the Beautiful multiagency pass or $5 day fee.

You’ll drive right past super famous Multnomah Falls on the way to/from the Wahclella trail. More than 2 million people stop to photograph Multnomah each year, making it the most-visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest!

You’ll need a timed entry pass to visit in the high season - check the website for details and to purchase a pass if one is needed when you’d like to go. We didn’t stop, but you can get a nice quick view of the cascading falls from the highway as you drive by.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Big Obsidian Flow - NOT FOR DOGS

An incredibly memorable hike for the fascinating landscape, Big Obsidian Flow is exactly that - one square mile of shiny obsidian rock! This otherworldly space at Newberry National Volcanic Monument is the result of a volcanic eruption just 1,300 years ago.

Hike the short trail through the lava field and be sure to listen to the sound of the pumice and obsidian beneath your feet. The rock form depends on the temperature at which the silica cooled, but it’s all chemically glass so the crunching and clinking will sound like you’re walking on broken glass! Native people used to come to this site to gather sharp obsidian for arrowheads and spear tips. For this reason, this is 100% NOT a place to bring your dog - even with boots!

Enter with your America the Beautiful interagency pass or pay $5 for day access - more info at the Deschutes National Forest page. We ran out of time, but had hoped to check out the Paulina Hot Springs and Paulina Lakeshore trail across the road. This 2.8 mile out and back trail is dog friendly and runs alongside Paulina Lake to a hot spring where you can take a dip!

Have you visited Oregon? Is Crater Lake on your bucket list? Let us know where you’re adventuring next!


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