Dogs make good companions when hiking outdoors, and a wagging tail is often a welcome sight on a winding path.
Both pets and owners benefit from outdoor adventures, and Massachusetts offers plenty of off-leash hiking opportunities. With a little advance planning, you can both be safe, have fun, and immerse yourself in nature.
More:ASPCA offers health and safety tips for exploring the great outdoors with dogs
All areas where off-leash hiking is permitted also have rules for safety and respect for fellow hikers, fellow dogs and the wildlife that call those places home.
Even in areas where off-leash hiking is permitted, the ASPCA recommends leashing your dog in an unfamiliar area and following all rules where leashing is required, including controlling a dog’s behavior and cleaning up dog feces. And since any outdoor activity presents the possibility of parasites; Taking preventative measures is key to protecting yourself and your dog.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation lists state parks where off-leash hiking is permitted.
location 259 Massapoag Avenue, North Easton
features Trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding, fishing and boating in the pond and facilities for tennis and disc golf. There’s also a historic mansion that’s open for tours (no dogs allowed).
More:Off-leash dog parks are fun for people and pets — but the rules target health concerns
location 155 Massachusetts Route 134, South Dennis
features The Dennis Conservancies are open for hiking, hiking, wildlife viewing and more.
Dogs are only allowed in Conservancies when leashed and/or under the control of an adult or licensed hunter. Dog owners must clean up after dogs and stay on the trails at all times.
Includes the Cheryl Malone Fresh Pond Dog Park.
More info Link at town.dennis.ma.us.
location Route 97, George Town
features Over 1,000 acres of forest with year-round activities including hiking and biking in the warmer months, and skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.
More:ASPCA supports off-leash dog parks, but where can you find them?
location List of public parks in Brookline
features City program that allows dogs to be off-leash at participating parks at certain times. Residents and foreigners are eligible to participate.
Annual fees are $100 for resident dogs and $150 for non-resident dogs, with separate fee schedule for commercial dog walkers.
More info Link at brooklinema.gov.
location Lloyd Center for the Environment, 430 Potomska Road, Dartmouth
features Facilities such as hiking trails, nature center and more.
Dogs may be off-leash before 10:00 a.m. and after 3:00 p.m. if accompanied by owners on trails. Owners must wear a leash when encountering visitors on trails or elsewhere on the property.
Off-leash dogs must be kept within sight, by voice command, and under the owner’s control at all times.
More info lloydcenter.org.
location 165 North Street, Carlisle
features A 1,000-acre park offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails. Contains Native American sites and 17th-century English settler basements.
Active dairy farms offer guided tours at weekends.
Dogs allowed off leash except in parking lot and near ice cream parlors.
location 4 Woodland Road, Stoneham
features Schafstallwiese, off-leash hiking area for dogs.
- Dogs may only be walked off a leash in the designated areas.
- Keep your dog on a leash when entering or leaving the outdoor area.
- Always keep a leash on hand for each dog you bring into the free run area.
- Dogs must be under control at all times and come to their owners when called.
- Children under the age of 13 must be supervised by an adult.
- No unsupervised dogs
- No aggressive dogs
- No dogs in heat
- No digging
location On Dunklee Street, Newton
features 65 acre nature reserve and recreation area. Features an off-leash dog area accessible from the Beacon Street entrance. Off-leash dogs are not allowed on the trails.
More info Link at newtonma.gov.
location 457 Lincoln Street, Hingham
features Stodder’s Neck is a peninsula at the mouth of the Back River. The park offers harborside hiking trails and hillside views.
Dogs may be walked off-leash in designated areas of the park.
location Access from Winchester Drive and Summer Street in Lexington and Philemon Street and Skyline Drive in Arlington.
features Lexington’s second largest nature reserve with 300 acres and 4 miles of trails featuring a variety of trees, plants and wildlife.
The City of Lexington provides a list of rules for bringing dogs into conservation areas.
In Willard’s Woods: Dogs may be walked off-leash on weekdays, but they must remain under the immediate restraint and control of their walker, either by leash or by voice and visual command.
Visit lexingtonma.gov for more information.