So the weather is changing and you want to be outside more [well at least my dog Ghost does] and breaking down one of Ghost-dog's favorite activities seemed like a great way to celebrate my favorite season, Fall.

Currently I have been going through a personal rough patch and I found myself hiking almost everyday - a little nature meditation with my dog seemed to be what my soul was craving. This past weekend my husband and I planned a hike, packed the car and drove about 40 minutes to our destination. It was beautiful … then we noticed the “PETS NOT WELCOME” sign ... my husband knew the area and recalled another trail near by, so we looked it up and drove another 10 minutes. But when we pulled up - to our horror “PETS NOT WELCOME” ... what do you mean!? Doesn’t everyone know how cool our dog Ghost is?  How well behaved off – leash [most of the time] - and how far her trail manners have come?

I’m just kidding. I get it. Some spots are for humans only and dogs running around could possibly piss a few people off. But when I think hike, I envision a dog, paw padding along [even before I had a dog of my own, I pictured myself out in nature with one] - or better yet a fox guide. Which is what I call Ghost when she is accompanying me on trail.

So what better way to honor the time spent in the great out doors with your dog then to list Ghost’s favorite hiking trips to enjoy with your own good girl / boy. Ghost tested and state of NJ approved for K9 recreational access.  

Kittatinny Valley State Park _ Andover, NJ

No entrance fee.

One of our all time favorites and most frequently visited because it is about 4 minutes from our den.

Kittatinny Valley State Park Has “Glacial lakes, limestone outcroppings, former railroads, and a small airport ... Lake Aeroflex and Gardner’s Pond form part of the headwaters of the Pequest River and are excellent for fishing and boating. This scenic property is home to a variety of wildlife such as whitetail deer, wild turkey, a variety of songbirds, beaver, muskrats, and squirrels.” OH and MILKWEED – tons of milkweed, so if you are a monarch butterfly nut – it is a great place to see them!

What you'll get:

-   a spot for your dog to take a dip

-  great mountain biking trails 

-   just a real pretty spot to spend the evening

Two additional favorite trails, both part of Kittatinny Valley State Park, are the Paulinskill Valley Trail and Sussex Branch Trail, described below.



The Paulinskill Valley Trail_ Andover, NJ

Comprised of 27 miles passing through rural landscapes, northern deciduous forests and wetlands, and small towns in Warren and Sussex Counties, this trail cuts under the majestic Hainseburg viaduct, once part of the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. The trail has a wide, firm cinder base suitable for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

What you'll get:

-  a really muddy dog



Sussex Branch Trail_ Andover, NJ

This 20-mile trail skirts swamps, lakes, fields and several small communities. The trail corridor exhibits many features of the trail’s former existence as a railroad. The Sussex Branch Trail also crosses through Allamuchy Mountain State Park.

What you'll get:

-  a nice wide trail

-  great mountain biking trails



Hacklebarney State Park _ Long Valley, NJ

No entrance fee.

One of my favorite hike to picnic locations,  with Picnic tables placed in scenic locations along the ravine – “Hiking trails in the northern portions of the 465-acre natural area offer breathtaking views of the Black River, which lies deep within a shaded hemlock ravine. Rinehart and Trout Brooks empty into the Black river and several small waterfalls can be seen from the high trails”

What you'll get:

-  a nice place to set up lunch, if you like picnic tables as there are plenty



Schooley’s Mountain County Park _ Long Valley, NJ

No entrance fee.

I would vote this as Ghost’s favorite hike. You can start off with a dip in the pond, hike past a water fall and swim in the pool – and then stop at the look – out to complete the loop and we like it because it gives her time to dry off.



Buttermilk Falls_ Layton, NJ

No entrance fee.

What you'll get:

-  a great workout [and remember your dog covers about double the area that you do – so this is a hard one]



Cooper mill_ Long valley , NJ

WE ARE ALWAYS looking for new places to explore, and met this lovely Jack Russell and his owner on our last trip to Schooley’s Mountain County Park. Ghost was swimming around like a manic and this woman stopped to chat with Nick and I. She told us about a DOG HIKERS [of central and northern NJ] group. I was in and I signed up when i got home that evening. I have yet to join them on a pack hike but will surely follow - up once I do. In addition Ghost would love to know your favorite tri-state area dog friendly hikes, so please share.