PAWsitive parks and trails for dogs

08/10/2018

Many of us at Oregon State Parks are dedicated pawrents who readily admit to spoiling our pets. We know that when you plan an outing or camping trip, you want to bring pooch along and know that he’ll be welcome. It’s so disappointing to arrive at a destination, only to realize that dogs are not allowed.

No worries — we have you covered. Your canine companions are welcome in nearly all state parks, including in campsites, on most beaches and on many trails. Many parks also have pet-friendly yurts and cabins that allow up to two pets (dogs and/or cats only). Some parks have designated off-leash exercise areas. For commonly asked questions about visiting state parks with pets, visit bit.ly/pawsitiveORparks.

We know it’s hard to believe, but some people don’t like sharing parks with dogs. Maybe it’s because an enormous off-leash dog jumped on them when they were 5, scarring them for life. Maybe they stepped in one-too-many giant piles of doodie. Whatever the reason, they have a right to enjoy the park without canine-related interferences. Which brings us to the obligatory lecture: Don’t be that guy (or gal). Your dog needs to be on a leash unless otherwise posted. Certain trails are safer for all without dogs, so please respect signs. And, for goodness sake, clean up your dog’s *business*!

Back to the fun stuff. With more than 200 state park areas, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to go. So, we — the dog lovers of Oregon State Parks — have assembled our list of the best state parks for dogs.

On the Coast

South Beach State Park: It’s like dog-city at this campground just south of Newport, which features 14 pet-friendly yurts, more than any other state campground. We also like it for its proximity to pet-friendly Gleneden Beach nearby. Because what dog doesn’t love to run free on the beach? (Just make sure she’s reliable at recall).

William Tugman State Park: For a less crowded camping experience, travel south to Reedsport. Located on peaceful Eel Lake, the campground features 8 pet-friendly yurts and an off-leash dog area. Do like the locals and find a dog-friendly swimming hole along the North Eel Lake and South Eel Lake trails.

Near Portland

Molalla River State Park: This day-use park at the confluence of the Willamette, Molalla and Pudding Rivers feels so peaceful, you’ll never guess you’re just outside the city. Fluffy will enjoy romping in the large, grassy unfenced off-leash area, or take her hiking with you on the easy 2-mile out-and-back trail that follows the Willamette River and farmland.

Stub Stewart State Park: Muddy pups are happy pups, and Muffin is sure to get good and muddy while exploring more than 30 miles of trails and two off-leash dog areas (one fenced) at this popular campground west of Portland. You can both clean up after a day well-spent at the convenient rinse station. (Be sure to watch for mountain bikes and horses on the trails.)

Willamette Mission State Park: An un-fenced off-leash dog area and tons of trails make for a dog-centric day-trip north of Salem. (Note that you’ll share the trails with horses and mountain bikes.)

Southern Oregon

Collier Memorial State Park: Need to recharge? This quiet campground north of Klamath Falls is definitely worth the drive. Hike for miles along the Williamson River, then cool off in the swimming holes on Spring Creek.

Elijah Bristow State Park: This day-use park southeast of Eugene might be Oregon’s doggie Disney Land. You won’t find any Disney characters, but you will find five miles of trails plus an expansive, grassy off-leash area divided in two sections: one fully fenced with doggie play equipment, and the other partially fenced.

Joseph Stewart State Park: An inviting reservoir, miles of hiking trails, a fenced dog park and proximity to loads of attractions, including Crater Lake — what more could you want for your Fido-friendly getaway? If you plan ahead, you may be able to snag one of the D Loop tent sites with a lake view.

Central and Eastern Oregon

Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area: Does your dog love snow? Near Pendleton, this campground offers year-round fun. The white stuff blankets the park in the winter, and the three pet-friendly cabins are oh-so-cozy. Hike (or snowshoe) for miles on uncrowded trails, but do watch for horses.

LaPine State Park: This unpretentious campground south of Bend makes a great home base for exploring Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Just be sure Sparky is good and tired first. He can run free in a fenced off-leash area or hike with you on 13-plus miles of dog-friendly trails, including the 3.5-mile Deschutes Loop that follows the river (but watch for mountain bikes).