Doggin’ San Francisco: Where To Hike With Your Dog When In The City By The Bay

San Francisco’s first great city park, Golden Gate Park, began to take shape shortly
after the end of the Civil War. First park superintendent William Hammond Hall laid
out the grounds with winding paths to discourage speeding horses and shield
strollers from the wind. In 1887 Hall ceded his duties to landscape gardener John
McLaren and over the next 50 years the Scotsman would mold Golden Gate Park into
one of the world’s most admired urban greenscapes.

He built nine artificial lakes and miles of roads, bridle paths and foot trails in the
park bounded by Fulton Street to the north and Lincoln Way to the south from the
Pacific Ocean to Stanyan Street. Golden Gate Park boasts more than one million
trees and plants from lands around the globe. Over the years the park has hosted
every conceivable form of recreation from golf to archery to polo to San Francisco
49er football. The park encompasses more than 1,000 acres and stretches from the
Pacific Ocean halfway across the city – more than three miles.

In 1972 a menagerie of government properties around the San Francisco Bay that
included forts, a prison, an airfield, beaches and forests came together as the
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, becoming one of the world’s largest urban
national parks. In the park are such popular destinations as Alcatraz, the Presidio
and the Cliff House at Lands End. Today the park administers 75,388 acres of land –
including 28 miles of shoreline – on more than 20 separate parcels. 

You will not be lacking things to do with your dog in the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area. One of the best places for dog owners to head is Fort Funston on
the Pacific Ocean at the southern extreme of the park in the city (off Skyline
Boulevard – Route 35). There are trails to romp along among the cliffs and plenty of
unrestricted access to the beach. Look for hang gliders soaring above the cliffs.
Except for areas of bird nesting and small China Beach, dogs are permitted on the
sand in the city of San Francisco all the way north from Fort Funston to the San
Francisco Bay.

Across the bay there is first-rate canine hiking in the Marin Headlands and the
Oakwood Valley on designated trails. Elevations in the wooded hills climb to over
1000 feet. Dogs are not permitted in the Muir Woods or the Tennessee Valley, the
two most significant prohibitions against dogs in the Golden Gate National
Recreation Area.

The units of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are located in the western
edge of San Francisco along the Great Highway. The parcels of land can be accessed
from US Route 1.

copyright 2006

Doggin’ Phoenix: Where To Hike With Your Dog When In The Valley Of The Sun

Encanto Park, in the heart of downtown Phoenix is an oasis for people and dogs, named for the Spanish word for “enchanted.” Acquisition of the 222 acres began in 1934 through donations and land buys. You can walk your dog in the park at 15th Avenue and Encanto Boulevard around the palm-studded lagoon where the sternwheeler “Encanto Queen” plies the gentle waters.

South Mountain Park in southern Phoenix is actually three mountain ranges – the Ma
Ha Tauk, Gila and Guadalupe – where prospectors probed for riches in the early
1900s. The city of Phoenix acquired 13,000 acres of land in 1924 for just
$17,000 from the federal government and the park was on its way to becoming the
largest municipal park in America.

The National Park Service also did the bulk of the development work when the
Civilian Conservation Corps carved out trails and picnic areas and built many of the
park facilities.

This is pure Sonoran desert hiking – open, rocky and hot. Canine hikers are advised
to stick to dog-friendly South Mountain’s shorter trails and there are plenty to
choose from of less than two miles. Bring more water than you’ll think you need and
pay close attention to your dog’s paw pads. The rocks and packed dirt can get
blisteringly hot.

Once common-sense precautions in the desert are accounted for, the going at
South Mountain is suitable for most any dog. The highest point you can reach on
foot is 2,330-foot Dobbins Lookout and steep climbs are spread out on the park
trails.

The National Trail cuts through the spine of the park for more than 14 miles and
can be used for loops. It moves though chiseled rocks and crags amidst a desert
environment of more than 300 species of plants.

Expect to adopt a pack mentality when taking your dog to South Mountain Park –
more than three million hikers sample its trails each year. To reach South Mountain
Park go south on Central Avenue to the park entrance.

copyright 2006