Dogs and the outdoors seem like a natural combination. A hike, ski or snowshoe trek with Fido heightens companionship as both parties get a little exercise and enjoy nature, but Utah’s sensitive watershed makes pet recreation in the alpine environments. Nevertheless, dog owners have many places to share with their pets.
In Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, dogs are simply not allowed without a permit. In Parley’s Canyon, dogs are allowed only to the north and east of Mountain Dell reservoir, and all policies are strictly enforced. Millcreek Canyon, the Uintas and American Fork Canyon are dog-friendly, but there are a few steps to take before bounding into the great outdoors.
“Be prepared, first and foremost,” advises Sandy Nelson, communications coordinator at Salt Lake County Animal Services. She recommends outfitting dogs with booties for rougher mountain environments, and checking paws for cuts and regularly wiping them off. Outfit smaller dogs with jackets, and to ensure many happy outings, don’t trim your dog’s coat during cold months. And even if your adventures aren’t happening farther than a few blocks from home, snow-melting substances on the streets can hurt your dog’s feet—washing paws after a walk will prevent damage.
A great area for play near the city is Parley’s Historic Nature Park (2740 S. 2700 East, Salt Lake City), at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon. While the park isn’t mountainous, the dogs of your family won’t complain; it features an off-leash area and 68 acres to explore. There are trails galore, cottonwood groves and watery options if your dog enjoys an icy dip.
Dogs are allowed in Millcreek Canyon (east on Millcreek Canyon Road, about 3800 South) every day, but must be leashed on even-numbered days. On odd days, they’re allowed off-leash so long as they stick to the trails. The Church Fork trailhead, 2.4 miles from the pay booth, offers several options for a companionable snowshoe romp, including the three-mile round-trip trail to Burch Hollow or the steep 5 1/2-mile round-trip hike to Grandeur Peak. As the scenic trails attract many dog owners, you will surely come across many people and dogs on the trails.
For areas a little outside of the city, Nelson recommends American Fork Canyon or the expansive Uinta Mountains. “American Fork offers any adventure, big or small, that your dog and owner can handle,” Nelson says. Though American Fork requires a $6 fee per car and is a leashed area, there are a plethora of trails, from the options at Tibble Fork to the behemoth Mount Timpanogos.
Even if past winters have been a time of rest and hibernation for the pup, the season is ripe for returning to cold versions of your favorite activities or seeking out new terrain.