Throughout the Baltimore area, dogs are welcome to take a hike with their favorite humans. In the city and within an hour’s drive are all the fun places a dog could dream of for outdoor fun. Whether you live in the region or are visiting, here are some of the best hiking choices.
Photo Credit: Kurt Jacobson
Baltimore Inner City
Starting at Boston St. and South East Street is where you’ll find Canton Waterfront Park that makes for an excellent starting place. After parking, take in the big views of the Inner Harbor as you walk towards the water’s edge. A well-marked path leads you towards the city skyline to start your hike. Of course, Fido will want to sniff and leave messages for the other canines in the area. This park has plenty of grass for such doggy actions. From this spot, you can walk all the way to the Rusty Scupper on one of America’s best harbor pathways. Along the way, some restaurants put out water bowls for dogs to quench their thirst. If you walk all the way to the Rusty Scupper, consider hiking up to Federal Hill and get a view of Baltimore’s skyline from the top of this historic mound. If you don’t want to walk all the way back the Water Taxi runs from the Domino Sugar site back to Canton Waterfront Park.
After your walk, if it’s the second Tuesday of the month, Gunther & Company throws a party for dogs and their owners called Yappier Hour. Even if you miss this event, the deck is open for well-behaved dogs and their thirsty humans most of the year. Gunther & Company is just a few short blocks from Canton Waterfront Park.
A bit farther on the Inner Harbor Trail is one of the most historic dog walks. Even though the trail ends past the Rusty Scupper, you could either continue walking on safe sidewalks to Fort McHenry or drive there. The path around the fort is perfect for a shorter dog walk of about a half mile (0.8 km). There is also plenty of grassy lawn areas to take a step on the soft side. Smaller dogs that don’t have the endurance for a long walk so take a break at this historic site where a significant battle took place during the war of 1812.
Patterson Park is located in the Highlands neighborhood of Baltimore. On days when the weather is fine, there’s always plenty of happy dogs wagging tails at a chance to bark in the park. A hike up the hill to the Pagoda tower delivers a healthy walk and excellent views. Circumnavigate the park for the longest walk enjoying a look at one of Baltimore’s best-known working-class neighborhoods.
Lake Roland Park is north of downtown Baltimore and has several trails for you and man’s best friend. Take Jones Falls Road to Lakeside Drive and find a parking place. Head towards the lake and cross over the stream then head up past Paw Point Dog Park. This dog park is popular with locals and requires submitting an application and payment for membership. Don’t worry if you aren’t a member; you can still walk your dog in and around Lake Roland Park on several miles of trails in the woods and beyond. There are places where your dog can wade in the stream on hot days.
Take a drive north on York Road towards Cockeysville where the NCR Trail caters to hikers, bikers, and dog walkers all year long. The NCR is one of the best trails in Maryland offering miles of riverside beauty. There are several ways to get to the NCR Trail. If you’re driving north from Baltimore City on York Road, take a right turn on Ashland Road which becomes Paper Mill Road and look for the trailhead parking lot on the left. This lot is one of many NCR Trail parking areas. This old railway route was converted into a hiking trail with help from the Rails To Trails organization. The NCR Trail can be quite busy on weekends during summer as city residents find the shaded trial a respite from the heat and humidity of Baltimore. As long as you can find a place to park the crowds are well spread out, and it’s easy to enjoy the NCR Trail on even the busiest days.
Several places on the NCR Trail further north offer wading and tubing in the Little Gunpowder River. This scenic trail goes all the way to the Pennsylvania state line, a distance of 19.5 miles (31.3 km). Even though there are a few places along the path to get water, it’s best to pack some of your own if you aren’t familiar with the safe drinking spots. The old Monkton train station has a drinking fountain with a dog water bowl at its base, as does the Paper Mill Road parking area. Note that these watering stations are only functional in warm weather months.
Also north of Baltimore City find the Gunpowder Falls Trail in Perry Hall. This favorite trail is located just before reaching Kingsville. Take Belair Road north until you cross the Gunpowder River, and turn right into the parking area. If this parking area is full, and it often is on weekends in warm weather, park off of Belair Road like the locals do and walk to the parking lot to access the trail. Here on the Gunpowder River you and Fido will find several safe places to enter the water, and most agree the water is safe for dogs to drink. If you head upstream and hike for about 20 minutes, you’ll come to a spot where a smaller trail follows the river to a deep spot with a little waterfall. The waterfall area is a fun place for you and your pooch to take a dip in the fresh waters of the Gunpowder Falls. A word of caution is in order; there are snakes occasionally seen on the trail, but the chances are remote that the snake is poisonous.
For all of these walks, it’s recommended to bring poo pickup bags to keep the trails clean and fun for everyone. Looking for a day trip out with your best friend? Check out Trip101’s top day trips from Baltimore, or accommodation reviews, hotels and vacation rentals.
Kurt Jacobson is a travel writer for Trip101, a one-stop guide for travel enthusiasts around the world. He is a former chef traveling the world in search of great food, interesting people, fine wine, nature, fishing and skiing. New Zealand, Japan and Europe are his favorite international destinations. He has visited all 50 US states and constantly explores hidden gems. When not writing on his blog, or Trip101.com he posts to Facebook, and Twitter often.