Every day we get this question from tourist and locals alike; where is the best place to hike with your dogs? We get the question so much we have a hand-out available in store and it’s published on the pet happenings web page too. The best experience possible to us means lowest amount of wildlife interaction, appropriate skill level, and the views you want to see! We keep all these things in mind when we make our recommendations. Here is an in depth review of our regular recommendations put together by the personal experiences of our staff, customers and local hiking experts.
Hunter Canyon: The long easy stroll with great views! This hike requires a 15 minute drive from Moab, and has little elevation change so it makes a great hike for all skill levels. The hike is a dead end so you go as far as you want. Round trip from parking lot to the turnaround and back is 3.4 miles. The best parts about this hike for dogs is that they have a limited amount of space to get away from you, the trail is shaded and there is very little slick rock to deal with so it’s easy on dog feet. During the summer monsoon months of June, July and August you will most often have a full creek running with cool water. It is rarely deep water but this hike is a canyon so there is risk of flash floods. Beware of weather changes and seek high ground or turn around if has rained recently or starts during your hike. One of the scenic highlights of this trip is Hunter Arch which can be seen on your right exactly .5 miles into the hike. It is easy to see at 74” high and has thick outside leg that attaches to the rock face. You can even climb up close to the base of the arch for a better look. Another scenic highlight is just beyond 1 mile into the hike as the canyon begins to open up you will see the three pinnacles. You have the option to continue into the left side of the wider canyon as the turnaround is still another .5 mile. We often stay here and play ball in the sandy beach, but the continued hike offers some great rock ledges and large rock pools great for splashing. This hike is rarely busy as most of the traffic in the Kane Creek area is for ATV and mountain bikes, neither of which uses this trail. The only other use for this trail is horses, and we have seen many out here so beware. Overall this hike is great for everyone. Dogs that need lots of exercise can go side to side in this canyon running twice or even three times the distance you will, and for slow dogs they can stick to the trail for an easy stroll. We give this hike two paws up for all doggie skill levels!
Hidden Valley Trail: This is one of the most scenic trails in Moab, but it is not for the novice hiker or the slow dogs. This hike only requires a 5 minute drive from Moab, but the first .6 miles of the hike are almost straight up. You will gain more than 600 feet, but after that section it flattens out to an even dirt path and incredible views! There will be many sections at the beginning where you may even need to help your dog up and over so beware if you can’t lift or support your dog. This trail is much more exposed than others so make sure to bring plenty of water and if possible hike in the afternoon when it is partially shaded. This trail was frequented by Native Americans over the last few millennia so there are petroglyphs to see at the turnaround. Although this hike is a there and back trail it does actually link up with the Moab Rim Trail and can take you all the way down to Kane Creek. Most people choose to go in 2 miles and once you hit the saddle explore the petroglyphs turn around and retrace your steps making a total of 4 miles. Plus when you go there and back it’s uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back a major plus! There is lots of wildlife and the occasional hard core mountain biker to encounter so watch out for them but quite often you will have the trail to yourself due to the difficulty of the first section. You will be rewarded for your efforts! We give this hike two wagging tails for the experts dogs!
Fisher Towers: This hike is spectacular and quite often overlooked as it is a 40 minute drive from Moab to access the trail. It is a longest of our reviewed hikes, and moderate in difficulty. This is also a there and back hike as well, so you can make it as long as you want. The moderate rating comes from the fact the trail can have some narrow ledge points and ladders that you must maneuver to keep going. If you are looking to see some of the natural wonders you only have to go in a mile before an incredible viewpoint and can avoid the narrow ledge crossings. At that 1 mile mark you will come across a viewpoint for the ancient art rock formation with the corkscrew summit, as well as mighty Kingfisher tower. If you continue further you will experience the wonders of the natural amphitheaters. Another 1 mile past the ancient art viewpoint is Cottontail tower, the largest tower at 800 feet and often a great show with it being a favorite climbing spot. If you choose to do the entire trail out and back it will be a total of 5.2 miles. This trail is very exposed and has little to no shade, so come prepared with lots of water a good hat and consider early morning or late afternoon as a hiking time. Overall this hike will provide some of the best views, and there are no other uses on this trail, not even mountain bikes. A 100% canine and human powered experience! If you are a novice or have slow dogs you can do the first part of the hike, and if you are a rock star hiker go the distance to the end, you will not be disappointed. We give this trail and two good sit and stays for all types of canine hikers!
As always we remind you avoid hot days for hiking, and make sure your pooch is staying hydrated. We want this to be a great outdoor experience so here are a few more reminds of what to consider while hiking with your dog. If you feel your dog is pushing themselves too hard and you want to cool them quickly, seek shade and soak their chest (entire underside of the ribcage) and the pads of their feet. This provides them cooling around the lungs, heart and vital organs which is what gets damaged from heat stroke. Dogs are amazing when it comes to endurance so look for any signs of mild distress like confusion, pale gums or worse super red gums, rapid and labored panting. The major signs of heat stroke are vomiting, seizure, major loss of coordination, and of course a high temperature at this point it’s an emergency. Check with your dog often and encourage them to take breaks if they are not used to endurance exercise so you can avoid any problems. Use doggy sunscreen if your dog has light colored skin on their nose and face to minimize skin cancer risk. Also you can use cooling vests or special booties made to deflect up to 70 degrees of surface temperature from your dog’s feet if you are concerned about the heat here in Moab. Please do not let your dog chase wildlife, especially coyotes as they are known to ambush lone dogs. The most important part of your hike is to leave no trace so please pack out your dog poop!!!