DogTrekker | September 19, 2012

'State Secrets' Worth Yapping About

'State Secrets' Worth Yapping About California state parks have had a roller-coaster year, but the bottom line is good news for DogTrekkers: not one of 70 parks slated to close in 2012 actually shut its gates. And while most state preserves restrict canine companions to campgrounds and paved roads, we've found a few that allow four-paw venturing. Here are four "state secrets" worth a special trip.

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Samuel P. Taylor State Park

dog and woman on shady trail

This lush redwood retreat 15 miles west of San Rafael has dog-friendly picnic areas, campgrounds with showers and the five-mile Cross-Marin Trail, shared with cyclists, that visitors with leashed dogs are welcome to enjoy. For DogTrekkers who like to camp, there's a bigger attraction: Samuel P. Taylor makes an ideal, low-cost base camp for forays into the adjacent Point Reyes National Seashore and Golden Gate Recreation Area, both of which hold many options for hikers and sightseers with leashed canine companions. And there's no need to cook all your meals over a camp stove: The nearby communities of Olema and Point Reyes Station are loaded with restaurants where you can relax and fill up after a day in the outdoors. More…

South Yuba River State Park

dog swimming in river

We'd love South Yuba River State Park even if its many trails and swimming holes weren't dog-friendly, and we bet you will, too. This isn't a contiguous park, but a patchwork of lands in Nevada County along the scenic Yuba River, which changes personalities according to the season.

In summer, you'll find idyllic, dog-friendly swimming holes at Kneebone Beach near park headquarters in Bridgeport and at Jones Bar alongside the wheelchair-accessible Independence Trail, constructed along a series of old mining ditches and flumes. More than a dozen trails with river views and varying degrees of difficulty will have both you and Sparky working up a pant, and you're free to try your hand at gold-panning anywhere along the shore. More…

MacKerricher State Park

Hairy Putter at MacKerricher Beach

Adhering to leash restrictions is a small price to pay for reveling in the beauty of this Mendocino County gem with numerous dog-friendly trails and beaches. MacKerricher State Park is diverse, with habitats ranging from bluffs to beaches, headlands, tide pools, forests, wetlands and one of California's longest coastal dune systems. Take a stroll on the southern part of the old logging haul road running the length of Ten Mile Beach (dogs aren't allowed on the northern end). Explore the tide pools at Laguna Point, watch for whales from a vantage point along the bluffs—you won't run out of things to do.

The park's three pet-friendy campgrounds are extremely popular, so make reservations in advance or snag a room in Fort Bragg, just three miles away. More…

September DogCation: Carmel

With fall almost upon us, and summer vacation a distant memory, we thought the best cure for impending winter blues was a new DogCation Sweepstakes. This month we are barking louder then ever because it is a big one. We are set to take you down the coast to Carmel Highlands with an incredible three-night stay at a luxurious rental property. You will have nary a care in the world when you and your four-legged pals watch the sunset over the ocean from the comfort of a private home.

The oceanfront house boasts 3 suites, each with their own bath and numerous common areas for relaxing and belly scratching.  Nestled above Wildcat Cove, the house is just a few miles south of dog-friendly
Carmel and full of Big Sur solitude. With views of the ocean and abundant wildlife this over-the-top dog-friendly luxury rental is incredible any season you choose to go. During the day you can head to Carmel Beach for some doggy socializing or take Fido south to Pfeiffer Beach to chase his ball, whatever direction you you head, this home is the perfect jumping off point.

This amazing DogCation is brought to you courtesy of Elite Carmel Estate Management.  With over 20 dog-friendly rentals Elite Carmel will find you the vacation retreat of your dreams. 

Don’t miss out on your chance to live the good life…enter here for your chance to win!


Garrapata State Park

If the rocky, surf-crashed scenery at Garrapata State Park looks familiar, that's probably because it resides in your subconscious, deposited there by paintings and films that have made impressions before. This is the last state park on the Big Sur coast to allow canine visitors, which makes it feel all the more special. Dogs are only allowed along the two miles of beachfront, not on trails, but as we like to put it, a hike by any other name is still a hike.

There's no camping here, but you'll find plenty of dog-friendly lodging and campgrounds elsewhere in this serene stretch of Monterey County, along with a seemingly limitless network of trails. More…

Bluegrass and Dog Rescue

Emmylou and Bonaparte

Back in the day, Emmylou Harris was rarely known to tour without her canine travel companion, the poodle mix Bonaparte. Then, when Bonaparte passed on, the singer decided to honor him by rescuing dogs who'd run out of time in Nashville, TN shelters. For the last eight years, Bonaparte's Retreat foster volunteers (including Harris herself, who's currently caring for seven adoptables) have been keeping these dogs happy and safe till permanent, loving homes come along.

Along with many other notable artists, Harris will be on hand for this year's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, coming up October 5-7 in Golden Gate Park. It's a classic only-in-San-Francisco event, which offers a rare opportunity for you and your pooch to enjoy three days of world-class and local musicians. Together. For free. (Besides Harris, this year's lineup includes Elvis Costello, Les Claypool, Patti Smith and Ralph Stanley). More…

Photo Credits:

"Emmylou Harris and Bonaparte" - Bonaparte's Retreat
"Bundled Up on the Beach" (MacKerricher State Park) - Ambrosiamonkey (CC)
"Dot and Dash on Independence Trail" (South Yuba River State Park) - Janet Fullwood
"Bonnie Swimming at Kneebone Beach" (South Yuba River State Park) - Janet Fullwood
"Kayla on Cross-Marin Trail" - Dave Kendrick

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