The hiking scene throughout So. Cal is massive. From the coast to inland, there are numerous hiking trails of all lengths and difficulties. With “hiking season” in San Diego approaching, the cooler weather should be upon us. Well, technically every season in San Diego is great for hiking and other outdoor activities due to the perfect year round weather we often brag about. Many locals, including myself, look forward to the fall and winter seasons to get their hike on! The summer temperatures can get scorching hot at times, making physical activity less desirable. If you’re looking for some trails to explore with your dog then it’s time to get ready because fall is right around the corner! Regardless of the season, you should always be as prepared as possible when hiking with your furry companion by your side.
Research the trail beforehand
Before checking out a new hiking trail, look into it to know what to expect. Thankfully there are online reviews for almost anywhere, allowing you to get a glimpse of the hike before trying it out. Using known knowledge of your pup, determine what an appropriate difficulty level would suit them best. If you have a senior dog, or perhaps a breed that gets tired faster than others, then aim for an easier level trail. If you’re unsure of what your dog can handle, it is always a good idea to start off small and test the waters first to see how they handle a hike. Reviews and recommendations online or through word of mouth can give you an idea of how many miles in length the trail is. Are there numerous steep hills? Is the terrain flat? Is it a highly populated area? Is it dog friendly? Are there trees for shade? These are all questions to consider looking into!
Come Prepared with a backpack
Once you decide on which San Diego trail to venture on, it is time to get your backpack prepped and prepared. A backpack or fanny pack is ideal because you’ll want to bring a few things for both you and your dog. One of the most essential things to bring along is water! You can never have too much water because staying hydrated for you and your pup is top priority. Even if the temperature doesn’t seem too hot, heat exhaustion can still occur quickly before you realize it. Pack a small bowl or collapsible dish for your dog to sip some water from while taking breaks along the trail.
Poop bags are another item that tops the list. One of the biggest complaints of dog friendly trails is when owners do not pick up after their dogs. It is proper trail etiquette; Keep those tails clear of poop to avoid a fellow hiker from stepping in it. Another reason poop should always be picked up in every situation, is for sanitary reasons and possible transmission of diseases. Disposing of the poop bag is just as necessary as picking up the poop. Used bags need to make their way into a trash bin along the trails. Depending on the trail, there are disposal locations at the head of the trail and sometimes a few along the way. A pro tip: convince your dog to go the bathroom at the bottom of the trail before beginning. This way you can dispose of the poop bag right then and there, increasing the chances of not having to worry about carrying the bag during your entire hike.
Dog treats are never a bad idea and always come in handy. If there are fellow dogs hiking on the trail, treats will be especially useful for leash reactive dogs. Small training treats can help redirect your dog’s attention when they get excited or distracted. Telling your “Leave it” followed by praise or training treats as positive reinforcement does wonders. Besides, after all that hard work your pup would probably love being rewarded with a treat after accomplishing the hike!
Harness and Leash
The proper harness and leash that suits your dog best should be worn while hiking! Most trails, especially heavily trafficked ones, will require dogs to be on leash. Having an extra set of a harness and leash on you may come in handy incase the equipment breaks or is starting to tear. Flashlights are another piece of equipment that most hikers carry on them. This depends on the time of day and mostly is recommended for hikes that are at night or during the later afternoon hours.
Enjoy all the nature surrounding you with your best companion by your side! Outdoor hikes in San Diego are almost always an enjoyable experience. Take in all the scenery and wildlife as you conquer the trails together. Both humans and dogs will need to take time to check in with themselves along the way. Don’t be afraid to take breaks and slow down. Keep an eye on your dog’s energy level and pay close attention. When your dog starts to slow down then you will want to make sure you decrease the pace. You don’t want to overwork you or your dog. A San Diego hike should be safe, enjoyable, and FUN!