Many Mendocino visitors stay glued to the coast during their visits, but to do so is to miss out on star canine attractions such as Cow Mountain Recreation Area, 27,000 acres of rugged terrain administered by the Bureau of Land Management near Ukiah; the Snow Mountain Wilderness in the Mendocino National Forest; and Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,132-acre coastal haven near Point Arena. Dogs are allowed off-leash under voice control at all three placesóa privilege that could be revoked should too many canines collide with the bovines sharing the landscape. (While you’re in the area, be sure to visit scenic Point Arena Lighthouse.)
Another great find for outdoorsy types: Lake Mendocino Recreation Area, offering 300 campsites, boat-in camping, a 700-acre wilderness area and 15 miles of hiking trails operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A good place to hang your hat and rest Fido's paws in this neck of the redwoods is Baechtel Creek Inn and Spa in the misty mountain town of Willits. The proprietors will be happy to pack a snack, provide a map and point you toward a web of scenic, dog-friendly trails that follow old logging roads converted to hiking trails through the redwoods. If you're traveling by RV, a great place to settle in with your pet is the resort-like Willits KOA, where the many family-friendly amenities include a doggie playground.
Follow our suggestions for a great time in Mendocino County and find more in Hairy Putter’s 2012 Pet Friendly Travel guide.
Photo: Sunset at Point Arena - Dave Kendrick