Clear Lake, that big puddle of blue in the middle of Lake County, is a popular vacation destination for families, but it’s hardly the only body of water in the vicinity. Blue Lakes (Upper and Lower), just five miles away, are a pair of clear, spring-fed bodies of water ideal for swimming and fishing. Only human-powered craft or those with or electric motors are allowed (speed limit is 5 mph), but you can rent an electric “yacht” or pontoon boat from the Lodge at Blue Lakes and pile the family (dogs included) on board for a great day of cruising about.
Lodge visitors also can purchase a day-use pass and enjoy waterfront privileges. The charge is $12 per person and $12 per dog, with a minimum two-hour boat, kayak or sports-tube rental required.
Clear Lake State Park near Kelseyville is the place to go if you’re visiting the area just for the day. While most trails are not dog-friendly (pay attention to signage), campsites are, and dogs are welcome to splash at non-designated beaches like the one between sites 57 and 58 in the Kelsey Creek campground. Keep your pups on a leash to be legal, and don’t forget the pickup bags. Want to rent a boat that allows four-legged passengers? Head to Disney’s Water Sports, a full-service marina offering dog-friendly ski boats, pontoon boats and other types of watercraft.
When it comes to hiking in Lake County, the Konocti Regional Trails system is a network of community pathways, land and water trails on a variety of public lands. Dozens of trails, back roads and splash spots designated as dog-friendly are identified on this handy map.
For moderate hikes, try one of the trails in the Indian Valley Wildlife Area around Indian Valley Reservoir, a popular fishing spot. Highland Springs Recreation Area, a 3,200-acre preserve just outside Lakeport, has a disc (Frisbee®) golf course as well as hiking and equestrian trails. Middletown Trailside Nature Preserve County Park welcomes leashed pets on designated trails, too. In fall and winter, Cache Creek Natural Area, a patchwork of public lands west of Clear Lake, is a great place for wildlife watching. You’re likely to spot bald eagles roosting or soaring and some of California’s last wild tule elk roaming in the rough.