Blue Ribbon - Robert E. Lee Park (Baltimore County).With its rough-around-the-edges look, Robert E. Lee radiates plenty of canine charm. It feels as if dogs are welcome here and the 456-acre park has evolved into a prime destination for dog walkers of all sorts.
Looking for a quick walk and a swim? Lake Roland can't be beat for deep water dog paddling. After a half-day's outing with your dog on the hiking trails? Cross the light rail line and the trail system explodes into a maze of hard-packed dirt passageways through the woods. Just need to let the dog romp with some buddies? Robert E. Lee Park may as well be Rover E.
Lee Park. You'll find more dogs per hour here than any park in the Baltimore area.#2 - Gunpowder Falls State Park - Hereford (Baltimore County).At Hereford the canine hiker can find any length or type of hike to set tails wagging. Long out-and-back walks through a rugged gorge (this is Baltimore?) can be combined with many side trails that scamper up the valley slopes.
You'll find plenty of great canine swimming holes in the river, fed by outflows from the Prettyboy Dam. You can even take the dog right to the base of the dam on a narrow trail drenched in mountain laurel.#3 - Susquehanna State Park (Harford County).The first European to set eyes on the Susquehanna River was English explorer John Smith. He was suitably impressed. "Heaven and earth," he wrote, "seemed never to have agreed better to frame a place for man's commodious and delightful habitation.
" Dog owners might readily concur. At Susquehanna State Park you can test trails in the hills that will leave man and dog panting or stroll along the shady Susquehanna and Tidewater Canal towpath, as level and pleasant an excursion as you can take with your dog.#4 - Downs Memorial Park (Anne Arundel County).Looking for a dog-friendly park? At Downs Memorial Park there is a "pet parking" stall outside the information center. A dog drinking bowl is chained to a human water fountain. The walking is fine too.
Some five miles of easy hiking through woodlands of oak and maple and holly and gum. Best of all is Dog Beach, an isolated, scruffy 40-yard stretch of sand where you can let the dog off leash for canine aquatics in the Chesapeake Bay. The wave action is just right for dogs and there is enough sand for digging. Need we say more?.#5 - Gunpowder Falls State Park - Sweet Air (Baltimore/Harford County).
Sweet Air offers more than 12 miles of well-marked rambles on four main trails and several connector branches. Unlike other sections of Gunpowder Falls State Park, the water is not the star at Sweet Air. Rather the attraction is a pastiche of open fields (still under cultivation) and wooded landscapes on either side of the river. Don't forget to check out the farm ponds on the property for some canine refreshment.#6 - Oregon Ridge Park (Baltimore County).Save for the demanding rocky slopes of the S.
James Camp-bell Trail, the hiking on Oregon Ridge's six miles of trails is almost uniformly wide and soft to the paw. The folks at Oregon Ridge are accommodating to dog owners - if you forget the leash they will loan you one. There are many trail options in this 1000-acre park and don't be afraid to learn something here.
An interpretive trail leads to exhibits on the bountiful natural resources that made Oregon Ridge an active mining commun-ity in the 19th century: water, timber, iron and marble.#7 - Gunpowder Falls State Park - Bel Air (Baltimore County).From the parking lot on US 1 there are hours of hiking on both sides of the Gunpowder Falls in either direction.
The highlight for canine hikers here is the Sweathouse Branch Wildlands Area that provides some of the best loop trails in the Gunpowder Falls state park system. The healthy hill climbs and wide trails give a big feel to this 5.1-mile walk as it meanders through differing forest types. Continue just past the end of the Sweathouse Trail to the Long Green Run and you'll find one of the best canine swimming holes in Greater Baltimore. Racing water is funnelled into a deep pool by a whale-shaped rock that serves as a natural diving board for playful dogs.
#8 - Patapsco Valley State Park (Carroll, Howard and Baltimore counties).Dogs are banned in most areas of Maryland's first state park, established in 1907. But there is plenty of lemonade to be squeezed from those lemons served up by the state of Maryland. Dogs are welcomed in undeveloped areas such as Feezer's Lane where a short hike leads to the base of Liberty Dam; Henryton Road which sports a wild and wooly streamside adventure; access to the tamed Patapsco River at historic Daniels; and breathtaking views of the river valley from Buzzard's Rock off Hilltop Road.
#9 - Savage Park (Howard County).Three unconnected areas surrounding the confluence of the Middle Patuxent and Little Patuxent rivers conspire to form Savage Park. The Wincopin Neck Trails are the prime destination for the canine hiker where most of the walking is level except where the paths plunge to the edge of the rivers. Across the water, the Savage Historic Mill Trail is a wide, level wooded path that traces the boulder-pocked stream below the confluence for 3/4 mile. Pools in the falls are the prettiest canine swimming holes in Greater Baltimore.#10 - Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area (Baltimore County).
Soldier's Delight is the ideal change-up from the tall trees and rushing streams found at most Baltimore area parks. Keep your eyes open as you wander through Soldier's Delight's 2700 acres. The lack of nutrients in the soil of these "barrens" produce a prairie-like environment loaded with rare insects, rocks and more than three dozen endangered plant species. The distinctive green-tinted serpentine stone sticks up through the thin soil, however, and, while easy on the eye, can be tough on the paw..I am the author of over 20 books, including 8 on hiking with your dog, including the widely praised The Canine Hiker's Bible.
As publisher of Cruden Bay Books, we produce the innovative A Bark In The Park series of canine hiking books found at http://www.hikewithyourdog.com During the warm months I lead canine hikes as tour leader for hikewithyourdog.
com tours, leading packs of dogs and humans on day and overnight trips. My lead dog is Katie, a German Shepherd-Border Collie mix, who has hiked in all of the Lower 48 states and is on a quest to swim in all the great waters of North America - http://web.mac.com/crudbay/iWeb/Katies%20Blog/Katies%20Quest.html I am currently building a hikewithyourdog.
com tours trailer to use on our expeditions and its progress can be viewed at http://web.mac.com/crudbay/iWeb/Teardrop%20Trailer/Building%20A%20Tour%20Trailer.
By: Doug Gelbert