To say that Park City, Utah is a dog-friendly town would be an understatement. Man’s best friend is welcome in so many stores and cafes, that proprietors have dog treats and water at the ready. The local dog park is officially named Bark City, and many a pooch can be seen in workplaces around town. During Park City’s annual day of giving, the non-profit whose mission is to rescue homeless dogs and cats, raised the most donations; second only to the foundation responsible for managing the city’s trail system. So hiking with dogs in Park City, Utah is about as common as well, skiing in Park City.
Before you set out on a hike with your furry friend, it’s important to keep in mind that Park City has a law that requires all dogs to be on a leash while hiking, walking, running or even skate skiing. Despite the law, that could result in a fine to the owner if a dog is off leash, you’ll still see many Park City canine running free on our over 450 miles of hiking trails. We’re not here to judge, since many of us are dog owners ourselves.
That said, read on for a few of our top trails for hiking with dogs. But don’t just take our word for it. Stop by one of the Jans stores around town and pick up a local trail map, published annually by the Mountain Trails Foundation.
Run-A-Muck is the only trail in Park City where dogs are legally allowed to run leash-free. To find the trailhead, drive from town to Kimball Junction and take a left at the light as if you were going to the Utah Olympic Park (UOP.) At the traffic circle, bear left to continue on the road toward the UOP. The parking for Run-A-Muck will be about a half mile up on the left hand side. This trail has barely any elevation gain and is a two-mile loop, making it ideal for a hike with your kiddos and their favorite furry friend. The trail is mostly exposed with little shade, so be sure to bring water along for you and your pooch. Since this is pretty much a dog-only trail Fido will find plenty of friends to play with, so you can watch him loping amongst the sage brush, deliriously happy that he is off-leash.
Willow Creek Trail & McLeod Creek Trail
Situated just off Old Ranch Road, the Willow Creek Trail is the gateway to a variety of other hiking trails that parallel State Road 224. This is a great trail for hiking with dogs in Park City and is one where you will see the greatest number of dogs on leash. Set on open space adjacent to a neighborhood and fully-operational farm, the Willow Creek Trail is flat and loops around soccer fields, a local park and beautiful homes. Since this hiking trail offers little shade for dogs, consider connecting into the McLeod Creek Trail during the heat of the summer. This dog-friendly Park City hiking trail meanders along a natural mountain stream and gives your pup a chance to splash around and cool off.
Lost Prospector Trail
To find the Lost Prospector Trail (LP), park at White Pine Touring, take the Rail Trail east to Skid Row and follow the switchbacks up to LP. This trail is well suited to hiking with dogs since it doesn’t get an inordinate amount of mountain bike traffic and weaves in and out of the trees to help keep Fido cool. While Skid Row has a bit of an elevation gain, Lost Prospector itself is mostly rolling and provides a bird’s eye view of Park City and Old Town. This is a great hiking trail to enjoy the fall colors as well. Just keep an eye out for the moose that calls LP home. If you spot him, be sure to rein in your pooch and turn around to give the moose all the space he needs. Moose are bigger and stronger than any dog and we all know who wins in that scenario.
Round Valley Trailhead at Old Ranch Road
While the Round Valley Trail system is widely used by mountain bikers, the trailhead located at Old Ranch Road is particularly rocky and a bit of a grunt, making it less of an appeal for bikers. As a result, it is a great choice for hiking with dogs in Park City, not to mention that many pets run free on this trail. Similar to the rest of Round Valley, this section is mostly exposed, so is best avoided on extremely hot days, but is ideal for an early morning hike when you want a bit of elevation gain. There is plenty of sagebrush providing lots of good smells for your canine companion and views of the Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort for you. To extend the hike, connect into the La Dee Duh trail which loops you around and brings you back to your original starting point.
When hiking with dogs in Park City, Utah it’s important to remember the same rule that applies to humans when exercising in a high desert environment. Be sure to stay hydrated. If your fuzzy friend is willing and able to drink from your water bottle or hydration pack hose, then you’re all set. If not, pick up a collapsible dog bowl at White Pine Touring, located on Bonanza Drive in Park City, and fill it in small increments at frequent stops so that Fido can drink freely. The last thing you want is an unexpected visit to the vet simply because you forgot to hydrate your best friend.
Liz Yokubison, Editor, JANS.com and whitepinetouring.com