Far away from any large cities (it’s a four-hour drive to San Francisco), northern California offers an abundance of spectacular hikes with fewer crowds, swimming holes aplenty, and pristine wilderness. Here are some of our favorite dog-friendly hikes. Tell us yours in the comments below! Make sure you are prepared for hiking by checking our hiking with dogs checklist.
Potem Falls (Shasta Trinity National Forest) – Escape the summer heat with a trip to Potem Falls, com
plete with a swimming hole at the base of the 70-foot falls. The hike is super short (just 0.4 miles), but worth it for the easy access. Head there mid-week for a chance to have it all to yourself.
McCloud Waterfalls (Mt. Shasta/Medicine Lake) – If you like mountains, high desert, diverse flora and fauna, and waterfalls, then this is the hike for you. A set of three waterfalls, the lower falls is popular among swimmers who want to cool off in the summer heat. Continue to the more impressive Middle and Upper Falls.
Lake Siskiyou Trail (Mt. Shasta) – Mt. Shasta towers above the lake on this easy 7-mile hike, offering one of the most scenic views in all of northern California. The shaded trail provides a nice escape from hot weather. Note that a seasonal wooden bridge crosses the Sacramento River, otherwise the trail ends up being 9 miles. Bring a kayak or paddleboard and get in the water.
Kanaka Peak (Whiskeytown National Recreation Area) – This challenging uphill climb is worth the 1,100-foot climb for the beautiful 360° views from the peak. In the spring, colorful wildflowers blossom, guiding your way across creek crossings and lightly-trafficked 8-mile roundtrip janut. Take a rest in the shade on the bench near the top, before summiting the exposed peak. Beware of ticks and check your dog thoroughly after you finish.
Heart Lake (Mt. Shasta) – Don’t let the short 2-mile out and back trail deter you from considering this moderate hike. Take in one of the best views of nearby mountains like Shasta, Black Butte, and Mt. Ashland from the lake. Accessible year round, bring snow shoes in the winter in case the trail is not packed down.
Seven Lakes Basin via the PCT (Shasta Trinity National Forest) – Take in the various
mountain views throughout this pleasant hike. In addition to the sweeping vistas of the Klamath Mountains, this six-mile roundtrip hike offers swimming options and plenty of spots to relax and enjoy the scenery and solitude.
Deadfall Lakes + Mt. Eddy (Trinity Alps + Marble Mountain Wilderness) – A favorite among local hikers, this hike begins in a meadow before ascending into the glacier-carved Deadfall Basin. Continue on to Upper Deadfall Lake for a lunchbreak with the best views of Mt. Eddy. With the energy from the rest and a bit of food, push on to the peak of Deadfall Summit (8,020 feet) and Mt. Eddy, just 1.1 miles beyond. Now you can say that you’ve hiked to the top of the tallest mountain west of I-5!
Big Bear Lake Trail – (Trinity Alps Wilderness) – Break up this steep 10-mile round trip hike by backpacking in and camping by the crystal clear waters of Big Bear Lake. If you’re staying the night, be sure to pick up a wilderness permit from a ranger station. If you have the energy, continue 3.1 miles to Little Bear Lake.
Castle Lake Trail to Mt. Bradley (Mt. Shasta) – Brave the hoards at Castle Lake to find solace and spectacular views at the peak of Mt. Bradley. Hiking beyond Castle Lake, this trail is one of the least-visited in the region. The long ridge walk means nearly constant stunning vistas in all directions.
Mt. Shasta via Clear Creek Route (Mt. Shasta) – While you’re in the shadow of Mt. Shasta, why not give it a go to the top? For experienced hikers only, the Clear Creek route offers the least technical way to the summit. Take at least two days to enjoy the trek and acclimate by camping at Clear Creek Meadows and wake up early for a sunrise approach. The climb to the top can be grueling and is straight up, but the views of Oregon and California from 14,180 feet are unparalleled. All users must first obtain a climbing permit from the ranger station.
Jen Sotolongo is a writer and photographer and runs Long Haul Trekkers, a blog about independent, responsible travel with a pet. Over the past few years, she and her partner have taken their dog, Sora on a cycle tour spanning across Europe and South America, proving that adventures can include your dog, no matter where in the world they may be.