Girl hugging white golden retriever outside

As a dog mom, I know how important it is to find safe, accessible, and dog friendly hikes. Dexter, my two year old golden retriever, is just as passionate about getting outdoors as I am! We go on a lot of adventures together, and thankfully there is no shortage of trails around Asheville. So without further ado, here are my top 5 hikes to take with your furry companion!

Girl looking at a white golden retriever outside

Dexter and I

Bearwallow Mountain

It’s hard to choose a favorite hike, but this one is definitely at the top of my list. The hike to the summit of Bearwallow Mountain is only a mile, but it is definitely still a good workout for you and your dog. Once you reach the top, you are greeted by a breathtaking panoramic view of the mountains. Thanks to the cows that call the mountain home in the summertime, there are no trees or large plants blocking your view. As far as being dog friendly, this hike doesn’t disappoint. There are almost always other dogs on the mountain for your canine companion to socialize with (if they feel comfortable). It’s also the perfect olfactory experience, because there is always a multitude of cow poop for your dog to sniff and explore! It might sound gross… but to your dog it’s like the cherry on top of the perfect day.

A white golden retriever laying down with the Blue Ridge Mountains in the background

Dexter at Bearwallow Mountain

Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg Home trail mapThe Carl Sandburg home, located in Flat Rock just outside of Hendersonville, is doggie hike heaven. This National Park Service site has a plethora of activities for you and your dog to enjoy. There are plenty of trails that cater to the short legged shih-tzu, or the athletic and sporty shepherd. Whether you are exploring the land around the house, checking out the goats (the “funny dogs” as Dexter knows them), or hiking up to Big Glassy Mountain, an entire day can easily be dedicated to having fun here.

Girl and white golden retriever at the top of Big Glassy Mountain

Dexter and I at the top of Big Glassy Mountain

Black Balsam Knob

Two people looking at the mountains from Black Balsam Knob

Photo by @dilsworth on Instagram

Definitely one of the most stunning hikes in Western North Carolina, Black Balsam is like something out of a fairytale. The adventure begins at the Art Loeb Trailhead, located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 420. The short stretch of trail leads to the iconic Black Balsam view. I highly recommend this hike for people and dogs who aren’t looking for anything too strenuous. Small, senior, or special needs canines can experience the joys of this beautiful hike and not over exert themselves.

DuPont Forest

There’s never a shortage of fun things to do at the DuPont State Recreational Forest. With a collective 86 miles of trails on protected 10,000 acres, there’s something for everyone and their dog (literally). From waterfalls, swimming holes, and awesome views, DuPont is the place to be. My personal favorite is seeing the waterfalls and exploring the swimming holes with Dex. I especially recommend this place for pups who love to swim. Want to learn more about all the things you can do here? Check out the Friends of DuPont Forest Website for more information!

White golden retriever swimming with a stick in his mouth

Never Dull in DuPont!

Remember: It is never a good idea to have your dog off leash near waterfalls, especially if they love swimming. There are designated spots that are safe to swim and explore, and other spots that are off limits. Please make sure to abide by these rules and regulations for you and your dog’s safety!

Catawba Falls

Catawba Falls, NC

Photo by @dilsworth on Instagram

Another great hike for all the four legged water bugs out there is Catawba Falls! This hike is just short of 3 miles, and offers plenty of opportunities for you and your dog to get your feet/paws wet! My favorite part of this hike is the swimming hole at the base of the falls, which is always refreshing on a hot summer day.

Daniel Ridge Loop Trail

The first time I went here with Dexter, I knew this would be one of our frequent hiking locations. The Daniel Ridge Loop, located in the Brevard area in Pisgah National Forest is definitely a trip you don’t want to pass up on. The trail itself parallels certain parts of the Davidson River, and again, offers wonderful swimming opportunities for you and your dog. Other than the river, there are so many other reasons this trail is worth visiting. The different biomes that you encounter throughout the trip are amazing, and the view of Tom Springs Falls is breathtaking. To top it all off, at the end of the hike you and your fuzzy adventure buddy can visit The Hub and Pisgah Tavern for a good meal in their outside seating area!

It’s a well known fact by any dog mom/dad that as long as you have your four legged companion with you, there is never a dull moment. Hopefully these 5 dog friendly hikes can help inspire you and your pup’s next adventure!

White golden retriever with his tongue out


Sunny spring days have us in the mood for some outside time. And when we say “outside time” we’re not talking about a quick lunch break or a short hike, we mean a full on day of frolicking, relaxing, and picnicking in the great outdoors. Here are 3 of our picks for spring picnic adventures.

For Animal Lovers

Goats at Carl Sandburg's Home

The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site has trails of various difficulties, beautiful views, and a goat barn that’s accessible to the public.

We recommend starting with a visit to see the newborn kids (currently 9 and counting).  If you’re a poetry buff or just need an escape from inclement weather, a 30 minute tour of the Sandburg home is well worth your time.  The grounds around the main home offer plenty of peaceful picnic locations. Alternately, you can head down the hill to one of the lakefront picnic tables or benches.

If you’re feeling adventurous, the 3-mile hike to the top of Big Glassy Mountain and back offers unparalleled views. This trail is short but steep, so be sure to wear proper footwear and consider bringing a pair of trekking poles.

Not in the mood to pack your own lunch? Local favorite, Flat Rock Bakery makes exceptionally good wood-fired breads and pastries, and is a great place to pick up a sandwich to take with you.

The All-Day Hang

View on the Trail, Courtesy of

From trails to wide open spaces, Pink Bed’s Picnic Area in Pisgah National Forest has a little something for everyone. We recommend starting with a  hike of Pink Beds Loop – a rolling five mile trail featuring rare local flora.

Post-hike, the wide open field is the perfect place for throwing a frisbee, kicking a soccer ball, or just hanging out. There’s even a sizable picnic shelter, complete with grills. If you want to be sure you’ll have the place to yourself, be sure to reserve it for the day.

Unobstructed Views

View from Max Patch in Winter

If 360 degree views are your thing, it doesn’t get much better than a picnic on top of Max Patch. A quick half mile hike will take you to the top of this scenic bald that offers long range views of Tennessee and Western North Carolina. This trail is along the AT, so if you visit in the spring, think about bringing a few extra snacks to offer a little “trail magic” to tired thru-hikers.

If a hike up Max Patch doesn’t quench your thirst for adventure, head back through Hot Springs for another short hike up Lover’s Leap or a soak in the town’s namesake hot springs.


Tucked away in Marietta, SC at Jones Gap State Park, is an immensely beautiful 125′ waterfall, Falls Creek Falls. The 1.7 mile out and back hike is strenuous as it ascends approximately 600 feet with a few flat stretches thrown in the mix. But it is worth every bit of effort.  This moderately hiked trail is often overlooked, making it one of my favorite spots.  I love of having the solitude of enjoying the trail with just myself and my dog.  That’s right, it’s dog friendly!  The trail head is roughly 45 minutes from Greenville, SC depending on your location, making it a great local option for an afternoon trip.  I highly recommend this impressive local gem. I guarantee that will not be disappointed, but maybe a little sore and in awe of what South Carolina has to offer.

Distance: 1.7 mile out-and-back

Difficulty: Strenuous

Directions: Head north on US 276 from Greenville (you will pass SC 11 Junction). Turn right on River Falls Road; then go 4 miles. Turn right on Duckworth Road; then go a 1/2 mile. Turn right on Falls Creek Falls Road.Trailhead is down on your left with parking.



Looking for a hike that’s short enough to do in an afternoon, but challenging enough to keep the crowds at bay? You might want to give Frugal Backpacker Greenville Staffer, Marie’s favorite hike a try – Rainbow Falls. Located in Jones Gap State Park, these stunning falls and offer plenty of space to spread out for a picnic or wade around the base (always use caution on slick rocks and around water).

Marie at her fav trail.

Distance: 5 mile out and back

Difficulty: Strenuous

Directions: From Greenville, head north on 276 toward Caeser’s Head State Park. Continue 2.6 miles past the park and turn right onto Solomon Jones Road. After 4.6 miles, you’ll see a small parking area on the right. Head back about 10 yards and turn left to to access the trail.

Start out on the blue blazed Jones Gap Trail, then after 3/4 of a mile veer right onto the red blazed Rainbow Falls Trail.


If you’re looking for a fun family afternoon in the great outdoors, check out one of our favorite hikes for a summertime splash – Skinny Dip Falls. This short hike to idyllic falls and swimming hole on the Yellowstone Prong of the Big East Fork of the Pigeon River is perfect for a relaxing afternoon and well within the limits of even the littlest of hikers. Cross the road at the parking area and follow the path next to milepost 417 up the hill and follow the Mountains-to-Sea trail straight at the intersection. Enjoy a quick jog uphill and follow the ever-increasing volume of the Yellowstone Prong downhill and prepare to cool off in one of the most popular swimming holes in Western North Carolina.

Difficulty: Easy
0.8 miles
NatGeo 780; Pisgah Ranger District Location: From Asheville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway south past Mount Pisgah and US 276 to milepost 417. Park at the Looking Glass Overlook on your left-hand side.