Great Places to Hike with Your Dog Last Updated: May 2023
Nothing beats the freedom of getting out there on the trail — and that’s true for you and your best friend. Luckily, in Connecticut, we’ve got easy access to some of the most beautiful and diverse hiking in New England. Here are just a few of the places you can safely take your dog for a long walk, run or swim they’ll love (some even off-leash!) As well as a few places to “pawse” and enjoy a little downtime. This is by no means a full list, just a few suggestions that are currently open with social distancing guidelines in place.
Hearts Beating and Tails Wagging!
You know hiking is good for you. But according to petmd.com, taking your dog for regular walks benefits the dog’s digestive system and can reduce excitability and destructive behavior like chewing, digging or scratching, too! Find the kind of trail that works best for both of you, and get out there!
Walks in the Woods
From state parks to nature preserves, graded trails to deep forest walks, Connecticut has all kinds of places to go for a hike with your dog.
- Babcock Preserve, Greenwich: Lushly wooded forest trail that’s a 6-mile loop. Lots for dogs to see and explore.
- Bear Mountain Reservation, Danbury: Great collection of wooded trails along Candlewood Lake.
- Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center, Mystic: Nature Center promoting environmental awareness, including 10 miles of trails for hikers and well-behaved dogs.
- Metacomet Trail, Avon: Moderate, scenic 10 -mile hike and part of a longer trail which stretches to the Massachusetts border.
- White Memorial Foundation, Litchfield: More than 35 miles of trails, through varied terrains, are open year-round for hiking.
Places to Take a Dip
Whether it’s simply a water view or a quick dip for a hot pooch, here are a few refreshing places to visit.
- Topstone Park, Redding: 280-acre park with a picturesque lake and a beach for dogs. Currently open by reservation only.
- Railroad Beach, Niantic: Also known as Amtrak Beach, you can walk your dog on the beach here.
- Sunny Brook State Park (Paugnut State Forest), Torrington: Featuring five different nature trails and a pond.
- Supply Pond Trail, Branford: Rural trail runs along a river that can be very inviting on hot days.
- Bluff Point State Park, Groton: Scenic 3.6 mile loop near the coast, dogs allowed on hiking trail, but not the beach.
- Esker Point Beach, Groton: Want to take your dog ON the beach? Esker Point is the only municipal beach in the state that allows dogs on beach year-round.
- Bigelow Hollow State Park, Union: Enjoy miles of hiking trails and an 18-acre pond.
Connecticut State Parks do require that dogs be on a leash at all times. But here are a few places we found where your pal can really let loose.
- Cranbury Park, Norwalk: Includes wooded trails as well as a dog park for off-leash fun.
- Nod Brook, Avon/Simsbury: 137-acre preserve with three ponds for recreational activities.
- South Windsor’s Bark Park: Clean, safe off-leash playing areas for both large and small dogs.
- Bark Park in Ridgefield: Well maintained and fenced in park with running water.
- Bailey's Dog Park, Clinton: Park features running water, waste bags, shade and sun.
Sights to Be Seen
Your dog may not notice the beautiful scenery, but you will.
- Lovers Leap State Park, New Milford: State Park with a variety of hiking trails, scenic vistas and historic ruins.
- Macedonia Brook State Park, Kent: The Blue Trail crosses Cobble Mountain and several other peaks, offering outstanding views of the Catskills and Taconics.
- Elizabeth Park, Hartford: The gardens of Elizabeth Park are great for a casual stroll with your dog.
Worth the Climb
Like a view from the top? Check out these trails that offer great views.
- Sleeping Giant State Park, Hamden: One of several trails in the park, the 1.6 mile Tower Trail climbs to the 739 ft summit of Mt Carmel.
- Shenipsit State Forest, Stafford, Somers, Ellington: The Soapstone Mountain Trail rises 1,05 feet and offers views for miles.
- Steep Rock Preserve, Washington: Hidden Valley Preserve offers a variety of trails and scenery, including a dramatic lookout at the 820 ft. “Pinnacle.”
- Ragged Mountain, Southington: A 5.5 mile loop for hiking and climbing with fantastic overlooks.
See Where the Trail Takes You
Got a little more time? Pack up your pet’s extra food and water and head out on these longer hikes.
- Farmington River Trail: An 18.2-mile loop trail that traces the banks of the Farmington River and the route of the old Canal Line Railroad.
- Hop River State Park Trail, Manchester - Willimantic: This trail winds 20+ miles through several towns.
Housatonic Valley Rail-Trail (Pequonnock River Trail), Trumbull - Monroe: 16 mile trail crossing through all kinds of parks and wildlife areas.
Happy Trails for You and Fido
Responsible pet owners and well-behaved dogs are welcome to hike in places like these throughout Connecticut. Just be sure to bring extra supplies, like food and water, as well as any first aid supplies and a shovel/enough plastic baggies to pick up after your dog.
It’s common sense to keep dogs on a leash or under strict voice control at all times, for their safety, as well as the safety of any other hikers, dogs or wildlife. And be sure respect wildlife and vegetation — Connecticut’s many hiking trails contain an amazing variety of natural beauty enjoyed by people and pets alike.