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Outdoor Activities

CT’s Top Dog-Friendly Nature Trails

Dog-Friendly Nature Trails

Many of the beautiful, scenic hiking trails throughout CT are dog-friendly and the perfect way to spend a few hours with your furry family members. 

The best way to spend a day with your furry friends is taking them out on an adventurous hike. There are beautiful trails spread all over CT perfect for a doggy-day.

If you’re getting a bit tired of the same old neighborhood route, take a small adventure with your dog and hike together along some of CT’s best dog-friendly trails. Take a look at these seven locations for a paw-fect hiking day!

1. Bear Mountain

Located in Salisbury, this mountain offers the tallest peak in the state standing tall at 2,316 feet. For a dog-friendly hike, take the blue-blazed Undermountain Trail to the Appalachian Trail. This is a three mile, 1,500-foot elevation hike so make sure to bring plenty of water and energy foods. Don’t worry, the view at the top is completely worth it as you’ll find ranges of pine and oak trees in all directions. If you want to continue across the summit, you can then return on the 2.1 mile Paradise Lane Trail that crosses upland forests or you can simply take the Undermountain Trail and trek back. It is highly recommended to spend at least a half a day here.

Location: Route 44 Undermountain Trail Head, Salisbury, CT
Directions: Once you head North on Route 41 from the intersection with Route 44 in town, go 3.5 miles to find a large parking lot on the left.

2. Bluff Point Coastal Reserve

Walk this 1.6-mile wide road to Bluff Point through the alternating maritime forest and open shoreland. The ultimate destination of this hike is atop the pink granite rocks of the bluff offering spectacular wildlife viewing on Long Island Sound. If you’re up for a detour, take the one-mile wide sand spit which connects to the small Bushy Point Beach. On your way back, travel along a forested ridge and keep your eye out on the 300-year-old Winthrop homestead! Beautiful views and an ocean breeze is guaranteed.

Directions: Located in Groton, CT, take Exit 88 from I-95 onto Route 117 South to Route 1 South. Take a right and then make a left at the first light onto Depot Road. Bear right under the railroad underpass and you will see the parking lot.

Dog-Friendly Nature Trails

3. Gillette Castle State Park

If you’re looking for a very easy trail and only have an hour or two, head over to Gillette Castle State Park. This two-mile loop will offer you and your dog lovely views of the Connecticut River at any time of the year. Start your hike at the northernmost trailhead at the main parking lot and head north. Along the trail, you will pass a small pond, picnic areas, and the historic railroad tunnel. Not only this, enjoy the views once you reach Gillette Castle and take in the beauty of the Connecticut River. Though the castle is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the scenic views are something that you simply cannot miss during the rest of the year.

Location: 67 River Road, East Haddam, CT
Directions: From Route 9 North take Exit 6 or 7 to reach the main parking lot by car in East Haddam.

4. Macedonia Brook State Park

Take your dog on an adventurous hike through the Macedonia Brook State Park. You and your dog can delight in the views of the Macedonia Brook and run along the paths. Take the long path on the Blue Trail which crosses Cobble Mountain and several other peaks, offering exceptional views of the Catskill and Taconic mountain views. If you and your dog are not up for it, simply take the blue-blazed Macedonia Ridge Trail that circles the park and covers more than six miles and four hilltops. Not to worry, this route can be shortened with connector trails along the way.

Location: 159 Macedonia Brook Road, Kent, CT
Directions: From Route 7 in the center of town, take Route 341 West to Macedonia Road and turn right and then stay left to the park.

Dog-Friendly Nature Trails


5. Sleeping Giant State Park

Resembling a giant man resting on his back, this cherished park is the perfect destination for a dog-friendly hike. With 30 miles of trails, you can easily spend a day exploring from the feet to the head of the Giant. Though there are some trails which are too rocky for your dog, there are plenty of other ones which are easy to tackle. The most popular trail is the 1.6 mile Tower Path which leads to a 739 foot Mount Carmel summit and a large four-story stone observation tower. If you’re up for the challenge, take your dog to the difficult Blue Trail which offers steep path exploration.

Location: 200 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT
Directions: Located across from Quinnipiac University. If you’re coming from I-91 take Exit 10 to Route 40 to Route 10 North and turn right on Mt. Carmel. If coming from I-84, take Route 70 South to Route 10 South and left on Mt. Carmel

6. Steep Rock Reservation

If you have your eye set for some scenic views, bring your dog to the Steep Rock Reservation. These woodlands offer a sporty trail with the picturesque Sepaug River—also a perfect for a cool off for your furry friend. As you stroll through the 35-minute trail up to the 820-foot elevation, your reward will be waiting there for you. A breathtaking panoramic view of Washington’s Historic District for you and your dog to sink in before the hike back.

Location: 2 Tunnel Road, Washington Depot, Connecticut
Directions: From Route 47 in town, turn down River Road on the west side of the Shepaug River and in a mile when the road turns right, bear left onto Tunnel Road. You can find parking on both sides of the river.

7. Topstone Park

Head over to this park to climb the highest point of Redding, CT. Enjoy the peaceful pond views along the easy to navigate trail with a few steep climbs. This dog-friendly year-round park is a great place to stroll the 2.4-mile loop trail, picnic and take a quick dip at the separate dog beach called “Magee’s Swimming Hole.” Your dog will absolutely love running through the secluded area without a leash. Once you reach the top, take in the commanding view of the Town of Redding and see why the Topstone Park is a true gem and well worth the visit.

Location: 72 Topstone Rd Redding, CT

Did we miss any?

Tell us your favorites in the comments.

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About the author

Kseniya Dobrovolsky

An upcoming senior marketing major at Stonehill College and Inbound Marketing intern at Pepperland Marketing. As an avid traveler, writer, and social media fanatic she is never seen without a keyboard or coffee in hand.

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