Fourteen months and 80 pounds apiece later, Granite and Onyx accompany us on many hikes throughout the surrounding National Forest and within Grand Canyon National Park. Like most dog owners, I couldn’t think of going on a hike and leaving them behind. While dogs are not allowed on trails below the rim, there are many pleasant hikes you and your four-legged companion can take along the rim and in the forest.
Before you take off on any trails with your dog, there are a few extra things that you need to stick into your day pack:
Water and a dog bowl. Your dog is going to get just as thirsty as you, perhaps more so with that fur coat he’s carrying around. Most dogs like to drink the water as it comes out of the bottle, so unless you don’t mind dog slobber, bring separate water bottles for you and your dog.
Dog snacks. Reward your dog for a hike well done. She may not enjoy that Power Bar as much as you, so get something more suited to a dog’s taste. Try the canine version – Power Bones, available at most pet stores.
Poop bags and/or a trowel. Most places require that you pick up after your dog. Even if it is not posted, always clean up dog waste. A wide variety of waste disposal bags are available at pet stores. If you’re hiking away from the crowds, carry a lightweight trowel and use it just as you would for human waste: dig a cathole (no pun intended) about 6 inches deep and bury dog waste.
Dog first aid supplies. Add a couple things to your first aid kit: a pair of tweezers to pull out cactus spines and some blood stop powder in case of a nail tear.
Always, always keep your dog on a leash. It’s the law in all National Parks, common courtesy when around other people, and safer for your dog and wildlife. Your dog should be current on all vaccinations and should have a license and identification on its collar.
Hikes on the South Rim are all fairly easy; however your dog should be in reasonable shape and capable of walking the distance you intend to cover.
If your dog is a couch potato at home, it won’t have the stamina to walk long distances, and you’ll end up with an exhausted dog some distance away from your vehicle.
Dogs are allowed on any of the paved foot trails throughout the South Rim area. There are miles of trails that take you from Mather Campground to Trailer Village, the market, along the edges of the residential neighborhood, and to the restaurants and lodges along the rim.
Start out with the Rim Trail, an asphalt paved, mostly level trail that stretches from Mather Point to the Bright Angel Trailhead. Here you will be rewarded with great views, while your dog will enjoy the attention of other visitors.
Keep in mind that asphalt trails may be hot on your dog’s feet. If your dog insists on walking off the trail and on the dirt, the trail surface may be too hot for her to handle.
The Rim Trail turns into a dirt trail west of the Bright Angel trailhead and continues up to Hermit’s Rest. As you travel west, the crowd dissipates and you and your dog can enjoy some great hiking along the rim. Some stretches are narrow and precarious, so be sure you’re in complete control of your dog when walking.
Rowe Well Road, located west of Maswick Lodge, is seldom used during the summer, and provides connecting roads to the National Forest. Park your car at any turnout along Rowe Well Road, and enjoy an evening walk with your dog. Deer and elk frequent the area, so be sure your dog is under control. If you do see wildlife, do not approach with your dog. Take a different direction and allow the wild critters to continue on with their evening walk.
There are several picnic areas on Highway 64 heading towards Desert View. Some picnic areas, such as Buggeln, have short trails that meander through ponderosa pine and Gambel oak, providing great explorations for you and your dog. The Grandview Fire Tower area is the trailhead for several trails, including the Vishnu Trail, an excellent short trek that even the shortest of four legs will enjoy.
The Arizona Trail provides unlimited hiking and camping opportunities for you and your four-legged friend, and a chance to see wild turkeys. Some of the trail is covered with sharp limestone rock, so be aware of your dog’s feet.
If you decide to take a hike below the rim, the Grand Canyon Kennels provide kennel service for your dog. Reservations are suggested and can be made by calling 638-0534. They’re open 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Your dog may not appreciate the awesome vistas of the Grand Canyon as much as you do, but if you’re like most dog owners, your enjoyment of a morning saunter is greatly enhanced when shared with your four-legged companion. With a little preparation, you and your dog can enjoy many miles together.