Doggin’ The Chesapeake
The Chesapeake Bay is one of our great recreation destinations. More than 1 in every 15 Americans live within a short drive of the nation’s largest estuary and millions come each year for the sailing, the lighthouses, the Atlantic Blue Crabs... What about for your dog? Some of the best Maryland state parks on the Bay don’t allow dogs (Calvert Cliffs, Sandy Point) but there are some fine beaches to take your dog to nonetheless. Here are the 13 best -
1. FIRST LANDING STATE PARK (Virginia, south mouth of Bay).
One of the finest state parks you’ll find anywhere features an ocean-type beach at the mouth of the Chesapeake. You can easily hike with your dog for over an hour on the beach with views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and ocean-going vessels in view the entire time.
2. HUGHLETT POINT NATURAL AREA (Virginia, western shore).
You will start your exploration with your dog here on a wide, soft and exceedingly agreeable path through a fragrant loblolly forest. Soon you will pop out on the beach of the Chesapeake Bay where you will be excused for thinking you have just landed on Tom Hanks’ deserted island in Cast Away. Ghost trees and fallen trunks pepper the enchanted shore - ineffective guardians against the relentless Chesapeake wave action.
3. KIPTOPEKE STATE PARK (Virginia, eastern shore).
Features more than a half-mile of wide sandy beaches, backed by dunes. Off-shore nine concrete World War I surplus ships have been sunk as a breakwater, leaving gentle waves for your dog to play in. Also an easy 1.5-mile Baywoods Trail when you want to take a break from the water. Dogs are welcome in the campground.
4. TERRAPIN NATURE PARK (Maryland, eastern shore at Bay Bridge).
Terrapin Park has over 4,000 feet of beach frontage at the tip of Kent Island. Firsky waves and canine swimming in the north shadow of the Bay Bridge. The trail to the beach takes you across oyster chaff.
5. DOWNS MEMORIAL PARK (Maryland, western shore north of Annapolis).
Looking for a dog-friendly park? At Downs Memorial Park there is a “pet parking” stall outside the information center. A dog drinking bowl is chained to a human water fountain. Best of all is Dog Beach, an isolated, scruffy 40-yard stretch of sand where you can let the dog off leash for canine aquatics in the Chesapeake Bay. The wave action is just right for dogs and there is enough sand for digging. Need we say more?
6. FLAG PONDS NATURE PARK (Maryland, western shore - Lusby).
Thick woods and an isolated sandy beach backed by wild grasses but don’t come too early - the park doesn’t open until 9:00 a.m and is only open Memorial Day to Labor Day and week-ends all year round.
7. MATAPEAKE PARK (Maryland, eastern shore, south of Bay Bridge).
This small park on the Chesapeake Bay features a pleasant one-mile wood-chip trail through a pine forest but the reason to come here is a stretch of sandy beach where your dog is welcome off-leash. The beach is a bit too industrial for sunbathers which makes it the perfect place for dogs to romp. Matapeake Park is just south of the Bay Bridge with splendid views of the bay and bridge.
8. GLOUCESTER POINT PARK (Virginia, western shore, at the mouth of the York River).
Here in the shadow of America’s longest double-swing bridge your dog will find a smooth sand beach and swimming in the light waves of the bay. There is also a small grassy area to roll around in.
9. WYE ISLAND NATURAL RESOURCES MANAGEMENT AREA (Maryland, eastern shore). The Ferry Landing Trail was once the only access road to the island, lined with Osage orange trees imported to serve as a natural fence. Osage orange trees originated in a small region of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, which was home to the Osage Indians, who used its wood for bows. This mile-long path ends at a small, sandy beach.
10. POINT LOOKOUT STATE PARK (Maryland, southern tip of western shore).
A Civil War prison to hold Confederate soldiers was built here at the mouth of the Potomac River and is the main attraction of the park but dogs aren’t allowed here. Before crossing the causeway to the island, however, is a small, sandy dog beach with excellent wave action.
11. EASTERN NECK NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE (Maryland, eastern shore, south of Rock Hall).
Technically the secluded sandy beach at the end of the Boxes Point Trail is on the Chester River and not the Chesapeake Bay but your don’t won’t quibble when she tests these fun waves.
12. ELK NECK STATE PARK (Maryland, eastern shore, 11 miles west of Northeast).
The park is situated on 100-foot bluffs above the Chesapeake Bay where the Elk and Northeast rivers converge. Narrow, informal trails lead down to the water’s edge where gaps in the stone breakwater produce little sandy beaches just for your dog.
13. NORTH POINT STATE PARK (Maryland, western shore, east of Baltimore).
Although only 20 acres in size, the Bay Shore Amusement Park was considered one of the finest amusement parks ever built along the Chesapeake Bay. Opened in 1906, the park featured an Edwardian-style dance hall, bowling alley and restaurant set in among gardens and curving pathways. There were rides such as a water toboggan and Sea Swing. Visitors would travel to the shore from Baltimore on a trolley line. Your dog can explore the remains and dive in the Chesapeake at a small wading beach at the Visitor Center.
9 Great Great Lakes Beaches For Your Dog
Your dog might not agree they are “great lakes” when she discovers that dogs are not allowed on Michigan state beaches and most county and town beaches. In-season, the metropolises of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin are even more restrictive. But all is not lost for the outdoor canine adventurer when visiting the Great Lakes. Here are the 9 best places to take your dog here:
1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Lake Superior, Michigan
Possessing the largest surface area of any freshwater lake in the world, there is enough water in Lake Superior to easily fill the other four Great Lakes combined to overflowing. Lake Superior is known for its cold water and rugged shoreline but there are some sandy beaches scattered across its 300 or so miles of southern shores. Other beaches are more of the cobble variety. Most of the shoreline is sparsely populated which bodes well for finding a dog-friendly beach.
The "pictured rocks" on the south shore of Lake Superior were painted by mineral stains on exposed sandstone cliffs scoured by glaciers. The colorful streaks on the cliffs - as high as 200 feet above the water - result from groundwater that seeps out of cracks in the rock. The oozing water contains iron, limonite, copper, and other minerals that brush the cliff face with colors as they trickle down. In 1966, the Pictured Rocks were preserved as America's first national lakeshore. The park stretches along Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, for 40 miles.
Dogs are not allowed to trot everywhere in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore's 72,000 acres (a detailed pet area map is available) but there is plenty of superb canine hiking on tap here. Day hikes lead to clifftops and cobble beaches through hardwood forests and windswept dunes. The best beach for dogs is at the western end of the park where dogs are allowed on Sand Point until the trail begins to climb the cliffs.
2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Lake Michigan, Michigan
Long ago, according to Ojibway Indian legend, a forest fire ravaged the Wisconsin shoreline driving a mother bear and her two cubs into the waters of Lake Michigan. The three bears swam for safety across the entire lake but the two cubs tired in the crossing. The mother bear continued to the shore and climbed a high bluff to wait for her cubs who couldn't make it and drowned within sight of shore. The Great Spirit Manitou created two islands to mark the spot where the cubs disappeared and then created a solitary dune to represent the faithful mother bear. The national lakeshore, established in 1970, protects 35 miles of dunes - the highest 480 feet above the lake - that are the product of several glacial advances and retreats that ended 11,000 years ago.
Your dog isn't allowed to make the Dune Climb up a mountain of sand but she may thank you for that. Otherwise dogs are welcome on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore trails. The best canine hike is the Cottonwood Trail off the popular Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The loop leads out into dunes speckled with the bleached remains of overwhelmed trees and the hardy survivors adapting to their sandy world. The rollicking trail, open May to October, is completely on thick sand that, while soft to the paw, can tire an unfit dog.
In the north section of the park the Good Harbor Bay Trail is a flat, wooded walk. Most of the starch has been taken out of the Lake Michigan waves here for gentle canine swimming. More adventurous dog paddlers will want to test the frisky waves in the southernmost Platte Plains section. You have your choice of trails here to choose how much you want to hike before reaching the surf. The 13 mid-length trails throughout the park are all hiker-only. Dogs are not allowed on North or South Manitou Island, both floating just offshore.
3. Lake Michigan Sand Dunes
Lake Michigan, Michigan
The year 2007 marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Mackinac Bridge that connects the lightly populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan to lower Michigan. Traditionally the bridge has attracted hunters and other woods-loving types but that list should also include beach-loving dog owners.
Just across the bridge on the Upper Peninsula head west on Route 2 out of St. Ignace and eight miles past the town of Brevort you will come to an unnamed, unsigned stretch of dune-backed, sandy white beach. You are actually in the East Side Section of the Hiawatha National Forest. Pull off the water-side of the road and park your car. There are miles of beach and not much traffic so there will be plenty of room for your dog to romp in the Lake Michigan waves. If you need facilites, travel a bit further west to the Lake Michigan Picnic Area.
4. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Lake Michigan, Indiana
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a park of striking contrasts. More than 1,400 plant species have been identified within park boundaries, ranking it 7th among national parks in native plant diversity. Growing zones clash here at the southern base of Lake Michigan so southern dogwood mixes with arctic bearberry and northern conifer forests thrive alongside cacti. The park itself stands in stark relief from the industrial surroundings of Gary, Indiana and Chicago. The national lakeshore was designated in 1966 and preserves 25 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Canine hikers will also find the dog-friendly trails, with dips and climbs, to be of a different style than the generally flat northern Indiana area. The high point on the dunes is 123-foot Mt. Baldy at the extreme eastern point of the park - you can make this short, sandy climb your first or last stop. If you take your time, even older dogs can make it to the top or you can hike a trail around Mt. Baldy directly to the beach.
Dogs are not allowed on the Ly-Co-Ki-We Trail but can spend the night in the Dunewood Campground. More superb canine hiking can be found in Indiana Dunes State Park, entombed by the national lakeshore. There are many numbered trails - some quite challenging - that ascend high vista points such as Mt. Tom. The best trails on the lake’s edge can be found in the state park.
5. Presque Isle State Park
Lake Erie, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania's most popular state park is believed to have formed 11,000 years ago from the deposits of sand carried by wind and water across Lake Erie. This "flying spit" of sand is the largest in the Great Lakes region and the only one in Pennsylvania. Presque Isle State Park is estimated to be moving eastward at the rate of one-half mile per century. Although Presque Isle is French for "almost an island," the area has often been completely surrounded by water. One such breech in the sand peninsula, designated a National Natural Landmark, lasted 32 years.
During the War of 1812 Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry used a harbor on the east side of Presque Isle as a base of operations for the critical Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. After the clash with the British fleet, Perry returned to Presque Isle for the winter, using a shallow pond to bury American dead. The harbor was named Misery Bay in light of the hardships suffered that winter. Today the Perry monument on Crystal Point remembers the American exploits here.
Presque Isle is unique in that plant succession from sandy shoreline to climax forest can be seen in less than one mile. This transformation can be viewed from the 5.8-mile Multi-Purpose Trail, a National Recreation Trail. The path begins at the park entrance and shadows the Presque Isle Bay shoreline until it ends at the Perry Monument. As this main pathway is popular with cyclists, skaters and joggers, dogwalkers may want to migrate to one of the park's many other trails. Dogs are welcome on all trails but ticks are heavy so avoid the trail fringes. Dogs are not allowed on the swimming beaches but you can hike a little ways up the peninsula past the supervised beaches where dogs can enjoy the frisky waves of Lake Erie.
There are more than a dozen short trails radiating across the peninsula that offer a pleasing variety of easy hiking. The Sidewalk Trail was constructed of wooden boards by a lighthouse keeper to reach the Presque Isle Lighthouse from his boat over a mile away in Misery Bay; it is now a concrete strip down the center of the trail that was resurfaced in 1925. The North Pier Trail traces the shoreline along a sand ridge and the Long Pond Trail hugs the shoreline of one of the park's several lagoons. Longer trails such as the Fox Trail (2.25 miles) and the Dead Pond Trail (2 miles) traverse distinct ecological zones as they move from sandplains to oak-maple forests.
6. Old Mission Peninsula
Lake Michigan, Michigan
Old Mission Peninsula is an 18-mile appendage that splits Lake Michigan's Traverse Bay neatly in half. Presbyterian Minister Peter Dougherty arrived in 1838 to establish the missionary for which the peninsula would be named. As settlers arrived they discovered ideal growing conditions on the narrow land moderated by the surrounding waters of Lake Michigan. Getting the crops to market was not so easy as growing them, however, thanks to a series of rocky shoals around the tip of the peninsula. Today Old Mission is still renowned for its cherry harvest.
Congress authorized funds for the building of a lighthouse here in 1859 but the Civil War prevented construction until 1870. A keeper was stationed here until the 1930s when a navigational marker was built on the shoals in the lake. The Mission Point Light remains the focal point of the park that was created by the state of Michigan after World War II. The lighthouse sits directly on the 45th parallel - halfway between the equator and the North Pole.
The trail system stitches several paths into a loop of a couple miles around the tip of the peninsula that works through woodlands and along the shore of Lake Michigan. This is easy hiking for your dog on mostly level terrain with plenty of opportunity for your dog to visit the waters of the lake.
7. Point Gratiot
Lake Erie, New York
Although its shores are the most densely populated of any of the Great Lakes, there is plenty of opportunity for a dog to explore Lake Erie. The smallest of the five lakes, Lake Erie waters average only about 62 feet in depth and warm rapidly in the summer for happy dog paddling.
The headlands here contain Dunkirk Beach, a U.S. Coast Guard Naval Reserve Station and an historic lighthouse. Around the west side of the headlands are low bluffs fronted by a wide, sandy beach. Dogs are welcome, there is plenty of easy parking - and it’s free.
8. Whitefish Dunes State Park
Lake Michigan, Wisconsin
Door County is a magnet for Lake Michigan recreation. For dog owners it is hit and miss among the parks and forests but one place your dog can enjoy the sandy lake beaches is Whitefish Dunes State Park. Long considered the best sand dunes on the western shore of Lake Michigan, this wilderness was the target of conservationist before World War II. Finally in 1967 the state park was established. Parts of the beach are open for your dog to swim in Lake Michigan.
9. Apostle Islands National Seashore
Lake Superior, Wisconsin
Twenty-one jeweled islands in Lake Superior have been rounded up by the National Park Service and herded into Apostle Islands National Seashore. Dogs are not permitted on any of the park service shuttles from the mainland so the emerald forests and pristine beaches of the islands are restricted to travelers on private boats. The National Lakeshore, however, includes 12 miles of Lake Superior frontage on the mainland.
Dog owners will thus want to steer towards Meyers Beach at the western end of the park. Here your dog will find a lengthy beach of thick sand and frisky waves of crystal clear Lake Superior waters. Driftwood is in abundance for your favorite fetcher.
The one hiking trail on the mainland departs from Meyers Beach and pushes east over three miles to a pack-in campground. Unless you’re spending the night, your hike on the Lakeshore Trail will likely end about two miles in at the top of cliffs above sea caves that have been carved into the sandstone bluffs. Be careful when you arrive with your dog to peer into the caves. If you don’t have a boat or kayak another way to explore these magnificent foundations is to visit in February when Meyers Beach is usually covered in thick ice and snow. You can then hike with your dog right along the shore to reach the caves at lake level.
The Best Beach Trip You Can Take With Your Dog In 1929 Samuel Boardman, 55 years removed from his childhood in Massachusetts, was assigned the new post of Parks Engineer for the Oregon Highway Department. The Great Depression was just beginning to sweep across the land and local governments everywhere were slashing budgets and squirrelling away funds. Boardman saw the financial crisis differently. The Oregon coast had yet to see much development and he knew land prices there would never be so cheap again. he proposed the issuance of $500,000 of state bonds to acquire coastal land.
Boardman received little political support but the zeal with which he spread his conservationist vision inspired an outpouring of private donations and eventually public funding. The State of Oregon had 4,070 acres scattered in 46 small parks when Sam Boardman began his career. When he retired in 1950, the number of parks had increased to 181 and the acreage to 57,195. And every grain of sand along Oregon’s 363 miles of coastline was open to you - and your dog.
Ambitious canine hikers with about a month to spare can experience all of Oregon’s sandy beaches and spruce-shrouded headlands up close on the Oregon Coast Trail that begins at the mouth of the Columbia River in Fort Stevens State Park and concludes at the California state line. Most travelers, however, will choose to sample the craggy Pacific shoreline with their dogs from numerous waysides, picnic areas and parks sprinkled along the spectacular US 101 coast highway. You can stop just about anywhere and and find a solitary beach walk with your dog but here are some of the standouts, from north to south...
Oregon’s North Coast is dominated by dramatic cliffs and the resort towns of Cannon Beach and Seaside. Seaside is near the site where Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery joyously reached the beach in 1805 after two years of crossing the continent and not too many decades later Oregon’s first seashore resort began taking shape. Today you can take a long hike with yoru dog on the wide sandy beach or use the famous 1.5-mile Promenade that fronts the beach behind a concrete balustrade. Originally platted on boards int he 19th century, the wide, strolling path was redone in pebbly concrete in 1920.
Cannon Beach, an artists’ colony-turned-upscale resort, got its name when the naval vessel USS Shark ran aground and split in half. The part of the deck with a cannon attached washed ashore. You will want to bring your dog to the town beach for a sitting with Oregon’s most-photographed landmark - the 235-foot Haystack Rock that looms only a few yards offshore. The monolith is one of the largest free-standing rocks in the world.
Just north of Cannon Beach is your first must-see park along the Oregon Coast. Ecola State Park boasts conifer-speckled cliffs with many trails leading to the water. An easy 3-mile round trip hike at the park’s Indian Beach takes your dog to a scenic bluff 150 feet above the sea and panormaic views of the Pacific Ocean. If you arrive in winter and spring keep a look-out for migrating gray whales. South of Cannon Beach, water-loving dogs will love a stop at the Hug Point Wayside where frisky waves bang up against a rocky cove.
Moving south, your next target is the Three Capes Scenic Route, a 30-mile alternative to US 101 that links a trio of breathtaking headlands. Before you exit the main road, however, treat your dog to the tallest waterfall in the Coast Range in the rustic Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site, six miles south of Tillamook. Another short trail leads to the world’s second-tallest Sitka spruce, one of the four titans of the Pacific rainforests along with western red cedars, Douglas firs, and western hemlocks.
The first of the three destination capes is Cape Meares where parallel trails lead to the 38-foot Cape Meares Lighthouse tucked on a bluff, one of seven Oregon coast lights you can visit. Next up is Cape Lookout where your dog can romp on expansive sand beaches. Waves crash around a sandstone bluff at Cape Kiwanda - this is a surfer’s hangout and the turbulent waters will test the mettle of any dog looking for a swim here.
Back on US 101, the next state park you come to is Devil’s Punch Bowl, site of a collapsed sea cave. The circular beach thwarts most of the big waves, making htis a good choice for an inexperienced sea-swimming dog. Your next must-stop highlight lurks just down the road.
Perched more than 800 feet above the waves, Cape Perpetua is the highest viewpoint you can access by car on the Oregon Coast. In 1966 almost 3,000 acres were set aside here by the federal government as a scenic Area where the temperate spruce rainforest transitions to the sea. The St. Perpetua Trail switches back and forth here up 700 feet in over a mile to reach the “Best View on the Oregon Coast.”
When your dog tires of the 75 miles of coastline visible in either direction you can sample Cape Perpetua’s other 26 miles of foot trails. Many slip quietly through old growth forests, including the mile-long, mostly level Giant Spruce Trail that leads to a 500-year old Sitka spruce. Others lead down to the rocky coves where your dog can explore tide pools and dodge the sea spray from the Devil’s Churn.
Situated roughly at the coastal mid-point is the Super Bowl for canine play - 40 miles of beach in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. These mountains of sand extend inland for 2.5 miles and are the tallest dunes in North America. The star canine hike in this vast alien landscape is at the Tahkanitch Area where a five-mile loop crosses the open oblique dunes, explores the inter-dune forest and reaches the Pacific Ocean where you can enjoy an isolated beach for as far as your dog’s eye can see. For a quicker way to experience the dunesland consider the John Dellenback Dunes Trail south of Reedsport that deposits your dog amid towering sand piles and island of trees.
Oregon’s South Coast is the stronghold of working fishing boats, classic bridges spanning exhausted rivers spilling into the Pacific Ocean and pocket beaches embraced by rocky alcoves. Bullards Beach, near Bandon, is one of the best places here for long walks on a dune-backed beach here. Port Orford Heads State Park preserves the site of one of Oregon’s most famous life-saving stations where crews operated from 1934 to 1970. The station at Port Orford retains the Cape Cod and Craftsman features, with its cedar shingles, typical of the Pacific coast architecture. Later statins were built in a starker, military model. The park also features mossy, wooded trails out to scenic overlooks on Port Orford Head.
The coarse sand at Ophir Beach is another good choice. Swimming dogs will enjoy a pit stop at Merchant Beach on the south end of twisty Seven Devils Road. Stop at Samuel H. Boardman State Park to pay tribute to the architect of Oregon’s coastline only without a time schedule - you will need to pry your dog from the pulsing waters of Whaleshead Beach.
Your last chance to enjoy the Oregon beaches with your dog comes at Harris Beach, north of Brookings. The Pacific surf here is squeezed by offshore rock formations so there is good fetching to be had. Look around the massive driftwood on the constricted beach - you’ll know your Oregon beach journey has ended at redwood country and the forests of Northern California.
50 Great Beaches To Take Your Dog
Have you ever noticed how many TV commercials and magazine ads show happy people walking down a beach with their dog? Fast forward to real life. Yes, it is hard to imagine any place a dog is happier than at a beach. Whether running around on the sand, jumping in the water or just lying in the sun, every dog deserves a day at the beach. But all too often dog owners stopping at a sandy stretch of beach are met with signs designed to make hearts - human and canine alike - droop: NO DOGS ON BEACH.
The reality is that about half of the beaches in America never allow dogs on the sand. Most of the rest only allow dogs in the off-season. Whenever you see a lifeguard stand you can assume your dog will not be welcome. Other beaches ban dog to protect nesting shorebirds.
But all is not lost. Here are 50 great places where you can get that dream vacation at the ocean with your dog.
Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
Maine is known for its rocky coastline, especially in the northern stretches, but the many coves offer small sandy beaches in places. Old Orchard Beach is a classic resort beach with plenty of white sand and a long fishing pier. No dogs allowed on the beach midday during the summer but you don’t have to get off the beach until 10:00 a.m.
Fort Popham State Historic Site, Maine.
Popham Beach State Park is better known but only permits dogs in the off-season. The preservation of this Civil War-ear fort is the destination for dog lovers. The beach extends for more than a mile and a hike here passes not only the half-completed semi-circular granite fort but a life-saving station and offshore lighthouses perched on rocky atolls.
At York Harbor Beach you’ll find a big, convenient parking lot next to a wide sand beach in a sheltered cove. You have to arrive early or come late in the summer but your dog can play here under voice control. Wells is a dog-friendly place with several beaches. Drakes Island Beach is a wonderful, secluded choice.
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is the best northeastern state to take your dog to the beach in summer. The resort islands are particularly dog-friendly and several spots on Cape Cod will permit dogs in non-swimming areas. At Cape Cod National Seashore dogs are allowed on all non-nesting protected beaches year-round. Walking the beaches at Cape Cod is a special experience due to limited sight distance down the shore caused by the curvature of the coastline. The effect is that of a series of private beaches as you move from beach alcove to beach alcove. In addition to Atlantic Ocean beaches backed by impressive highlands, the park extends across the cape to include bayside beaches with gentler waves for doggie swims.
Scarborough State Beach, Rhode Island.
With some 400 miles of shoreline within a short drive your wave-loving dog can enjoy a salt-water swim somewhere any time of the year - even in the summer, if you get out to Block Island where dogs are welcome on the beach all year-round. Scarborough State Beach is the Ocean State’s biggest sand beach in Narragansett and off-limits from early May through Labor Day but your dog will want to line up on that first Tuesday in September to romp on this long, wide stretch of white sand.
Cliff Walk, Rhode Island.
No vacation in Newport is complete without a visit to the Cliff Walk, a path through America’s most spectacular backyard. The busy Cliff Walk is not only open to dogs but poop bags are provided. In the off-season your dog can enjoy a 3/4-mile swath of sand on First Beach at the beginning of the Cliff Walk or anytime on Reject Beach deep into the Walk after the civilized path falls away and there is nothing between your dog and crashing Atlantic Ocean waves except gigantic black rocks.
Bluff Point Coastal Preserve, Groton, Connecticut.
Bluff Point is the last remaining undeveloped public land of any size along the Connecticut coastline. That is an irony since it was one of the first to be developed. Connecticut Governor John Winthrop (1698-1707), grandson of the founding governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, made his home on the peninsula and subsequent generations farmed the land for more than a century. A short detour from the main loop path leads to a one-mile wide sand spit that connects to the small Bushy Point Beach. Your dog will salivate at the chance to romp across the open sand but it is closed to dogs during the plover nesting season from April 15 to September 15. That means the beach and small, grassy dunes are now open to your dog. And since it requires a one-mile hike to reach the Bushy Point Beach you can usually count on plenty of space for your dog to romp when you get there.
Montauk, New York.
The further east you go out on Long Island the more dog-friendly New York becomes but whether on the north shore or south shore your dog is going to need to wait until the off-season to really sample the Long Island Sound or Atlantic Ocean. Around Montauk the many beaches, some stone and some sandy, will welcome dogs if you stay out of the swimming areas. The town beaches are very tail-friendly and Hither Hills State Park (no ocean beach for dogs) and Theodore Roosevelt County Park offer geat trails before you reach the beach. Come in the winter and you and your dog will have these magnificent Atlantic Ocean beaches of the exclusive Hamptons to yourself.
Island Beach State Park, New Jersey.
A vacation at the Jersey shore it a ritual for millions of Americans, most of whom leave the family dog at home. But one rare stretch of ten miles of undeveloped Jersey shoreline is open to your dog year-round - Island Beach State Park. Just drive down past the pavilions, park in one of the many small lots on the left and you can swim in the Atlantic Ocean with your dog right through the Dog Days of August.
Gateway National Recreation Area, New Jersey.
Although the summer at the Jersey shore is not a place for dogs after Labor Day some of America’s best white-sand beaches start to open wide for dogs. This strategic old military base at the northern tip of the shore is perfect for a long hike with your dog around Sandy Hook with views of the New York skyline across the harbor.
Brigantine Natural Area, New Jersey.
There is nothing like the solace of the wag of a friendly tail after a losing day at the blackjack tables and Atlantic City visitors can take their dogs to the beach by going one town north to Brigantine. Keep following the ocean until you can go no further. Park and let your dog onto the beach year-round.
Corson’s Inlet State Park, New Jersey.
Corson’s Inlet was established in 1969 before every last inch of Jersey shorefront became developed. There aren’t many places in the Garden State where the public can explore ocean dunes and a maritime forest but Corson’s Inlet is one. Even rarer still is to find a dune system that permits dogs but this is the place - from September 16 through March 31 anyway. If your dog finds the excitement of the Atlantic surf too intimidating, walk around the corner and enjoy the expansive crescent beach along the inlet with its calm, inviting waters.
Higbee Beach/Sunset Beach, New Jersey.
Cape May has more Victorian buildings than any similar-sized town in America and apparently town officials are concerned that dogs will mess up all that fancy gingerbread trim. Dogs are never allowed on the boardwalk, in parks or on the beach. I’m not sure what happens if you try to drive through town with a dog in the car - I’m scared to try it. But if you plan a vacation along the southern Jersey shore you can go to the tip of Cape May and cross over to Higbee Beach, where strict regulations melt away (this used to be the area’s unofficial nudist beach). Higbee Beach is actually on the Delaware Bay which is why your dog is allowed here year-round. With its wide sand and easy wave action your dog won’t know the difference. You can also hike through the last remaining dune forest on the Delaware Bay. The beach next door to Higbee is the similarly dog-friendly Sunset Beach, famous for its Cape May Diamonds. The “diamonds” are actually pieces of quartz crystals that have been eroded from the Upper Delaware River and been polished by a 200-mile journey of churning and jostling that can last a millennium or two. The stones, that can be cut and faceted to do a passable imitation of a diamond, are found in abundance here because the tidal flow bounces off a unique concrete ship that rests offshore. The Atlantus was built to transport soldiers during steel-short World War I. The reinforced-concrete ship worked but the recovery of post-war steel supplies made her obsolete and the Atlantus was being towed to Cape May to serve as a ferry slip when an accident dumped her on a sand bar where she remains today.
Fowler Beach, Delaware.
The sand is a little rockier and the beach a little narrower but if you are looking to spend undisturbed days on the beach with your dog come to the small towns of the Delaware Bay. Fowler Beach is one of the best. With no development and backed by dunes, this is the Delaware Bay beach that most resembles an ocean beach. The sloping coastline promotes excellent wave action and you can walk your dog for several solitary hours.
Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.
Rehoboth Beach has long been known as the “Nation’s Summer Capital” because of the number of Washingtonians who visit during the summer but dog owners would be better advised to bivouac one town to the north, in Lewes, Delaware’s oldest town. Cape Henlopen, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, is Delaware’s largest state park with more than 5,000 acres. The miles of beach reache around the cape into the bay. Your dog is welcome throughout the year but can’t go on the beach mid-day during the summer.
Delaware Seashore State Park, Delaware.
Stay away from the swimming beaches and you can bring your dog here right through the year. Those concrete towers you see on the beach were used during World War II to track German U-boat activity. You can also access the gentle waters of Rehoboth Bay where your dog can walk out a half-mile and scarcely get his tummy wet.
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland.
Miles and miles of undeveloped beach march south out of the campground on this lovely barrier island. Entrance fees are good for one week and your dog is always allowed in the Atlantic Ocean here. When you drive onto the island make sure to turn right - straight ahead is the state park that doesn’t even allow dogs out of the car.
Virginia Beach, Virginia.
You can get your dog on all of Virginia Beach’s clean, white sand at some point during the year; after Halloween every grain is open to dogs from Cape Henry to the North Carolina border. In the summer, while you wait for “The Strip” to open for your dog, head around the corner to First Landing State Park where your dog can enjoy the wide sand beach at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Just move your dog down away from the bathhouse. Across US 60 the hiking trails of First Landing State Park are some of the most interesting anywhere.
Duck, North Carolina.
This could well be the best place in America to rent a vacation beach house anywhere in America. Arriving onto the Outer Banks most people follow Route 12 south but when others go right you’ll turn left to the towns of Duck and Corolla. In Duck your dog can go on the beach year-round under voice control. If it’s a long walk you are after, head north.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina.
The heart of the Outer Banks for active dog owners is the 70 miles of dog-friendly sand in America’s first national seashore, dedicated in 1937. In addition to the beach you can take you dog lighthouse hopping here. There are five on the Outer Banks and three in the National Seashore designed to warn ships away from the shifting sand shoals known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” No dog’s vacation to the Outer Banks is complete without a stop at Jockey’s Ridge State Park and the highest natural sand dune system on the East Coast. Next door, your dog is welcome in the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk to walk along the route of the world’s first self-powered flight.
Crystal Coast, North Carolina.
Most towns on Crystal Coast permit dogs on the beach year-round; Emerald Isle has the most parking. At the far eastern end is Fort Macon State Park where the pentagonal coastal defense fort still stands. Your dog can walk through the massive masonry fort and enjoy the best dune-backed and beach on the Crystal Coast.
Topsail Beach, North Carolina.
Dog owners will not be disappointed with a vacation rental on this chunk of Cape Fear. Dogs are allowed year-round on the beach and when the summer ends can romp on the sand under voice control. (If you are starting to get the idea that North Carolina just might be the place for a summer vacation at the beach with your dog, you would be right...)
Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, North Carolina.
On the site of the largest earthwork fort in the Confederacy your dog will find seven miles of tail-friendly white sand beaches open year-round. Once you clear the Visitor Center there is nothing but wide-open beach ahead of you. Robert Harrill, for one, sure liked Fort Fisher. In 1955, the 62-year old Harrill left behind a wake of failed jobs and relationships in the Carolina mountains for a life of solace at the seashore. He came to settle in the old World War II bunker at Fort Fisher where he would live for 17 years. He was tabbed the “Fort Fisher Hermit” but he was far from alone. He welcomed all visitors and more than 100,000 made the pilgrimmage over the years to listen to his philosophies of simple life. In 1969 the state of North Carolina called him the Tarheel State’s second largest tourist attraction behind the battleship North Carolina. Not that Robert Harrill ever lived truly alone - he often had a dog by his side.
Brunswick Islands, North Carolina.
When vacationing in these towns just north of the South Carolina border your beach choices for your dog will be limited in the middle of the day but your dog is welcome on either end of the day. After 6:00 p.m. bring your dog to the residential beach of Sunset Beach for a stroll into the setting sun behind the dunes.
Grand Strand, South Carolina.
Your dog isn’t allowed in Myrtle Beach proper - 34 blocks worth - but you didn’t think she would be did you. But jut south of town you’ll find two state parks your dog will love. At Myrtle Beach State Park, South Carolina’s oldest, there is over one mile of dune-backed sand where your dog can relax and a 100-acre maritime forest for trail time. A bit further down Route 17 some of the money from the original Transcontinental Railroad dribbled down to the magnificent surfside estate built here in the early 20th century. Today, head for the northern section of Huntington Beach State Park for long walks on the beach.
Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
The fame of Edisto Island, South Carolina cotton spread far and wide. It is stated that at one time the Vatican insisted that the Pope's garments be made only from "Sea Island Cotton." The Boll Weevil and the Civil War conspired to destroy the cotton fields and after that development slowed to a crawl. So today the Edisto Beach State Park maintains 1.5 miles of Atlantic Ocean beachfront, backed by some of the Palmetto State's tallest trademark trees. The beach is wide with plenty of room for your dog to stretch out for a hike. And if that isn't enough sand time, the park adjoins Edisto Beach that has remained a residential beach so your dog can just keep going.
Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina.
Hunting Island State Park is one of the best places you can bring your dog. Dogs are allowed on the park trails and the ocean beach - three miles of natural sand - are open for long canine hikes beside the Atlantic waves. The palmetto trees come right down to the beach in this marvelous park. You won’t wonder why the jungle scenes from Forrest Gump were filmed here.
Golden Isles, Georgia.
Sea Island is private, St. Simon Island is residnetial and Jekyll Island is a state park. Jekyll Island with over ten miles of dog-friendly beaches., is your call. The southern tip of the island is backed by pristine dunes and easily accessed by boardwalk crossings from several picnic areas. The waves are gentle in the sound at the northern end of the island. Here the beach is infiltrated by the snags of dead trees. The tides bring in plenty of shells for your curious dog to sniff.
Amelia Island, Florida.
Florida ranks among the most dog-unfriendly of states. Entire counties and regions ban dogs from the beach. So if you are driving south to vacation in Florida you will want to get your dog onto the sand as soon as possible. This residential/vacation beach will fill the bill nicely. It will get dreary for dogs along the Atlantic Ocean soon enough.
Sombrero Beach, Florida.
A vacation in the Florida Keys is a mixed bag for dog owners. The dog beach in Key West can scarcely fit a pair of Golden Retrievers onto its meager sands. Unlike the mainland Florida coast the Keys are not mile after mile of sandy beach. The coastline instead is pockmarked by mangrove swamps and rocky reefs. Not that you can't find a pretty stretch of sand beach - one of the best is Sombrero Beach in Marathon, on the Atlantic Ocean side at Mile Marker 50 near the Seven-Mile Bridge. The wide beach is framed by palm trees whose only downside is that they don't drop any branches for your dog to fetch in the clear emerald waters. The soft sands extend far into the water so you can join your dog in the gentle surf. Even the beach sand is special. Pick up a handful. Looking closely, you'll see it comes in many shapes. Some grains look like bits of oatmeal, other like miniature deer antlers. Fashioned byspecial algae which thrive in Marathon's warm waters, these specks contribute much of the sea bottom and beaches surrounding the Keys.
Fort DeSoto Park, Florida.
Fort DeSoto was named “America’s Best Beach” by Dr. Beach in 2005. Your dog can’t actually go on that champion Gulf of Mexico beach but around the corner there is an enormous dog park and paw-friendly groomed sand on Tampa Bay. There are even doggie showers to spruce up a bit before you head home.
Bonita Beach, Florida.
Dog lovers vacationing on Florida’s Suncoast will want to stitch directons to Bonita Beach into their dog’s collar. A short walk through the trees leads to a long beach and shallow, gentle water on the Gulf of Mexico - and it is just for dogs.
St. Andrews Beach, Florida.
Another award-winning beach your dog can’t enjoy. But bring your dog anyway. Only when you pull into the park, turn left when everyone else goes straight for the beach parking lot. Your destination is the mostly ignored Grand Lagoon side of the park you and your dog can enjoy a narrow strip of sand and leisurely swimming in the shallow, gentle waters. The Grand Lagoon is reached by the Heron Pond Trail, a rolling exploration of the scrubby dunes. In the town of nearby Panama City your dog can dip a toe into the Gulf of Mexico at the Pier Park dog beach.
Grand Isle State Park, Louisiana.
People don’t seek out Louisiana for its sandy beaches, most of the coastline is made up of bayous. Grand Isle has a beach but it is not the manicured sand that attracts sunbathers - which means it is ideal for dogs. Bring plenty of bug spray for the squadrons of mosquitoes - and don’t forget to spray your best traveling companion as well.
Galveston Island, Texas.
On the Bolivar Peninsula many miles of open beach await your dog near Galveston Island; check in at the towns of Bolivar and Crystal Beach if you require civilization. In the eclectic town of Galveston your dog is also welcome on the beach. The sand in front of the breakwater is not the prettiest but your dog certainly won’t mind. Since the surf is gentle most of the time it is hard to imagine this was the site of America’s worst natural disaster when more than 6,000 people died in the aftermath of a storm on September 8-9, 1900. The oldest part of the 10-mile seawall built to protect the city is still visible from 6th Street to 39th Street and dates to 1902.
Padre Island National Seashore, Texas.
Padre Island is America’s longest barrier island and the world’s largest undeveloped barrier island. For most of the time here the only inhabitants were range animals.- There is plenty of room for dogs to roam on its 113 miles of sand. The only place your dog can’t go is directly around the Visitor Center. Certainly one of the best places to vacation with a dog anywhere, and absolutely the destination of choice on the Gulf of Mexico.
San Diego Dog Beach (North Ocean Beach), California.
Southern California is not the place to vacation with a beach-loving dog (remember that “rule” about people beaches equaling “no dogs”). When you are practically the only beach within a short drive of 20 million people that allows dogs you can expect to be busy and city officials estimate that as many as 10,000 dogs visit each week. With 38 acres at the north end of Ocean Beach, Dog Beach is the second largest leash-free beach for dogs in America.
San Simeon Beach, California.
William Randolph Hearst’s beach at the foot of his castle is not dramatic nor expansive by California standards but your dog won’t be critical. Just pull off Highway 1, walk down some wooden steps and you are on the beach in about one minute. The beach in front of the short, grassy bluffs is a mix of stones and rocks and a strip of sand. And the resident dog when Hearst lived in San Simeon? A dachshund named Gandhi.
Pismo Beach, California.
A good, hassle-free beach to bring your dog on the Central Coast. When you see trucks lining up to drive on the beach, you can assume no one is going to much mind about your dog. Convenient parking in town as well.
Pfeiffer Beach, California.
The Big Sur coastline south of the Monterey Peninsula is a must-see for any traveler. A string of state parks provides the best access to seascapes that Robert Louis Stevenson described famously as “the greatest meeting of land and sea in the world.” Your dog, sadly, will not be able to confirm that since the Big Sur state parks ban dogs for the most part. But Big Sur is not a complete washout for dog lovers, however. A short, sandy trail leads to Pfeiffer Beach, one of the most beautiful public beaches in California. The sand is wrapped in spectacular rock formations making this a very secluded beach indeed. The rocks are sprinkled in the surf as well, forming coves and making for exciting play in the waves for dogs. The turn-off from Highway 1 is obscured and easy to miss on the crest of a hill so be diligent when seeking out Pfeiffer Beach.
Carmel-by-the-Sea. You will never find a more dog-friendly beach than Carmel Beach where dogs and people mingle freely on soft white sand. This is the biggest beach among the craggy headlands of Monterey Peninsula. Dogs are also welcome on Carmel River State Beach at the east end of town. Along famous 17-Mile Drive your dog can enjoy small cove-like sand at Fanshell Beach and Sand Beach.
San Francisco Bay, California.
In 1972 a menagerie of government properties around the San Francisco Bay that included forts, a prison, an airfield, beaches and forests were knitted into one of the world’s largest urban national parks, Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Much of it is open to your dog. Start on Fort Funston on the Pacific Ocean and work your way around the bay. The north end of Stinson Beach in Marin County is a dog beach.
Point Reyes National Seashore, California.
You just can’t hit the beach with your dog at the national seashore - there are restrictions for the snowy plover at certain times and elephant seal mating at other times and other beach restrictions but there is also plenty of open sand and interesting terrain around the peninsula for your dog.
The bluffs around the Northern California town are the main attraction for vacationers but your dog will favor the state park beaches in the area instead.
Crescent Beach, California.
Dogs aren’t allowed to poke around popular Redwoods National Park too much but they are allowed on this wide semi-circle of sand. The waves in the broad cove usually lap softly onto the shore but this was the site of a tsunami that wrecked Crescent City in 1964. A century earlier, the side-wheeler Brother Jonathan struck a submerged rock spire known as the “Dragon’s Teeth.” Lifeboats were deployed but only one made it to shore with 19 survivors. The loss of 215 lives remains the worst maritime disaster in California history.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon.
These wind-sculpted dunes are the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America. As long as the birds aren’t nesting, your dog is allowed anywhere on the sand.
Gold Beach, Oregon.
The wild and scenic Rogue River is on the radar for every outdoorsman. Gold Beach, where the Rogue reaches the Pacific Ocean is noted for its clean sands. Your dog can help with the beachcombing in the state recreation area.
Cannon Beach, Oregon.
All of Oregon’s beaches are public. You can step on every grain of Oregon sand for 400 miles and, in the rare exception of a ban due to nesting birds, your dog can be with you all the way. With its views of the sea, the mountains and rugged coastal outcroppings, this is one of Oregon’s most celebrated beaches. Haystack Rock looms out in the surf. Come in October for the Dog Show on the Beach.
Long Beach Peninsula, Washington.
These uncrowded Pacific Coast beaches are some of the dog-friendliest in America for a vacation - even Olympic National Park, which bans dogs from almost all of its 632,324 acres, opens some of its remote coastal beaches to dogs. Miles of wide open sand and county officials who promise not to enforce leash laws on the beach providing your dog is well-behaved. Now that is a deal all dog owners can live with!
Kalaloch Beaches, Washington.
You shouldn’t have to go to the corners of the country just to vacation on the beach with your dog but you’ll want to come to the northwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula. The Kalaloch Beaches and Ruby Beach on US 101 are the most accessible but you may want to seek out even more remote beaches for your dog in the Olympic Wilderness. Some consist of deep, soft sand; others of the more pebbly variety. Keep an eye out from giant driftwood logs the surf can bring in. Great for whale watching, beach combing, dog walking and sunsets.
Doggin’ The Golden Isles
The Georgia mainland is completely protected by a chain of barrier islands that march down the coastline. So the mainland is comprised of salt marshes and the beaches are on the barrier islands. Several of the islands are wildlife refuges. The northernmost, Tybee Island, is the playground for Savannah and dogs aren't allowed there. The southernmost, Cumberland Island, is a national seashore reached only by passenger ferry. No dogs allowed there either.
For dog owners that leaves only one target - the Golden Isles.
The Golden Isles are four barrier islands centered around the historic port town of Brunswick. They are easily differentiated for the visiting dog owner. There is no land access to Little St. Simons Island. Sea Island is private and also has no access. St. Simon Island is heavily residential with a sandy beach that swings around its southern tip. The beach is backed by small dunes, beach houses and high rises. Dogs are allowed to trot the beach anytime except during the high season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. In the summer you can hike the beach before 9 am and after 6 pm.
Most dog lovers visiting the Golden Isles will want to head straight for the fourth barrier isle, Jekyll Island, billed as Georgia's jewel. First developed in the late 1800s as a playground for America's riches families, today the entire island, including 11 miles of Atlantic Ocean beach, is a state park. Dogs are allowed on all the beaches anytime.
The beaches around Jekyll Point at the south end are undeveloped and you can hike with your dog for hours beside natural wind-sculpted dunes. At the north end is Driftwood Beach where the forests come right down to the beach. Here the sands are harder and the surf gentler. A great beach for strolling with your dog.
Away from the beaches there is no trail hiking for your dog in the Golden Isles, unless you like yo travel on paved bike paths. On Jekyll Island you can walk your dog through the 240-acre historic district anchored by the opulent Jeykll Island Club. You will wander on carriage roads around fantastic cottages built by the Vanderbilts, Morgans, Rockefellers, Goodyears, Pulitzers and so on.
21 Great Beaches To Take Your Dog On Long Island
The NO DOGS ON BEACH sign is certainly widespread on New York’s Long Island. If you were the stretch the Long Island coastline in a single line it would cover 1,180 miles - think about a coastline from New York to Chicago. Surely, there must be a place on the beach for your dog, right? Dogs are generally not allowed on Long Island Sound beaches on the North Shore but you can get your dog into the Atlantic Ocean on the South Shore. Here are some good choices, roughly heading from west to east:
Nassau Beach Park
Nassau Beach Park was welded together from three swanky private beach clubs in the 1960s. If you have seen Matt Dillon in the Flamingo Kid (1984) you have seen what the beach and cabanas were like. Over the years the beach became run down and "dilapidated" often equals "relaxed restrictions against dogs." Today there is a dog park off Lido Avenue at Nickerson Beach Park and Nassau Beach Park is open to dogs when the birds aren't nesting from September 15 to March 1.
Gardiner County Park
The Beach Road in this ultra dog-friendly park leads to a sandy beach where your dog can romp in the Great South Bay. Almost any time of year she will find someone to play with in these waters.
Western entrance via Robert Moses Causeway
In 1857 Congress appropriated $40,000 for the construction of a 168-foot brick tower lighthouse on Fire Island, The tower stands atop a Connecticut bluestone base salvaged from the island's first tower that was built too short. The Fire Island Light was changed from a creamy yellow to its present day-mark of alternating black and white bands in August 1891. In the1980s the lighthouse was restored to its 1939 condition (when electricity was first installed) and is still an official aid to navigation. The lighthouse beach east to the village of Kismet is open to dogs between Labor Day and mid-March.
Eastern entrance via William Floyd Parkway
Dogs are permitted anywhere on the wide, dune-backed sands between Labor Day and mid-March when driving is also allowed here. If you have a private boat or take a dog-friendly ferry to the interior of 32-mile Fire Island during the summer, dogs are allowed on any non-ocean, non-lifeguarded patch of sand. Dogs are never permitted on the lifeguarded beaches at Watch Hill and Sailors Haven. Additional area closures can occur at any time due to actively nesting piping plovers. If the pounding Atlantic surf is too intimidating for your dog, you can also find some sandy access along the Great South Bay. Dogs are not allowed on the beaches in the attached Robert Moses State Park on the western tip of Fire Island.
Smith Point County Park
The park extends from the east end of the Fire Island Wilderness portion of the National Seashore to the tip of the island at Moriches Inlet. The Smith of Smith Point was William "Tangier" Smith who owned 50 miles of Long Island oceanfront in the 1600s. Most beachgoers walk to the beach through a tunnel under the dunes but dog owners need to walk past the campground entrance to the east. Wooden staircases lead over the dunes and you can take your dog all the way to Moriches Inlet. On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded in mid-air 14 miles offshore here, killing all 230 aboard. A granite memorial featuring the flags from the 14 countries of the victims en route from New York to Paris was dedicated in the park in 2004.
Shinnecok East County Park
Shinnecock Inlet did not exist before September 24, 1938 when the "Great New England Hurricane" unleashed its full force on Westhamption. Still the most devastating hurricane to strike the Northeast coast, its lasting imprint here is the inlet cut through the barrier island. There is plenty of off-road activity on this beach and that means dogs can play as well.
This is the main beach in the village that was established in 1640 as the first English settlement in New York. Access can be problematic - and pricey - for non-residents in the summer but the sands spread far and wide in the off-season. Come in December and your dog can join in the annual Polar Bear plunge.
East Hampton Beaches
There are five beaches in East Hampton (only three are life-guarded) and Main Beach on Ocean Avenue is perennially ranked among the best beaches in America. Dogs and permitted on the beach before 9:00 am and and after 6:00 pm daily from the second Sunday in May through September 30. After that your dog is welcome any time.
Dogs are not allowed at any of the five town-owned beaches during the summer. If you find yourself in town between April 1 and October 1 your dog can experience the big-breaking Atlantic Ocean waves at Peter's Pond and Gibson Beach, located east of Sagg Main Street - only before 9:00 am and after 6:00 pm and only if she stays within 150 feet of the access roads.
The beach at the end of Atlantic Avenue is open for dogs all year but only before 10:00 am and after 6:00 pm between May 15 and September 15. Behind this beach is a rare double dune system that has been destroyed almost everywhere else of Long Island. If you explore the dunes with your dog be on the lookout for Fowler's Toad, America's only marine edge amphibian.
Hither Hills State Park
Your dog is not allowed on the ocean beach at Hither Hills when the park is open but there is a sliver of sandy beach along the east shore of Napeague Harbor that is accessible from the end of Napeague Harbor Road north of Montauk Highway (Route 27). You can hike the dark brown sands north to Goff Point and Napeague Bay and the swimming is easy for your dog in the gentle waves that lap onto shore.
Napeague State Park
The state park stretches from the Atlantic Ocean across the neck of the South Fork to Gardiners Bay. It is totally undeveloped and looks pretty much as it did when the wetlands here were washed over by the 1938 hurricane. Access to the pristine ocean beach is by four-wheel drive vehicles only and can be closed in the summer for plover nesting. You can also try parking along the Montauk Highway (Route 27) and hike less than a half-mile to the beach on the sand road.
Ditch Plains Beach
Shadmoor State Park
This beach backed by high bluffs can be reached by hiking through the state park or from township parks from Ditch Plains Road off the Montauk Highway. Although there are large cobbles on the beach, this is the last big stretch of Atlantic Ocean sands on the eastern tip of Long Island.
Camp Hero Beach
The beach below the bluffs in the old military reservation is reached by hiking down via an access road from the main parking lot. The beach is all large cobbles and the rough surf makes this primarily a beach for surfcasters and athletic swimming dogs.
BAY BEACHES AROUND THE LONG ISLAND FORKS
Montauk Point Beaches
Montauk Point State Park
These beaches on the open waters of Block Island Sound are not wide but not crowded either, reached only by hiking trail. Although the cobbles ease up as you move further west, these are not sunbathing beaches. Rather, the dune-backed beaches are ideal for hiking with your dog and fetching in the light waves.
Theodore Roosevelt County Park
Located at the end of East Lake Road, this beach is fronted by a self-contained camper-only campground. You can also hike to this sandy/pebbly beach from the Big Reed Nature Trail in the park. On the west side of East Lake Road you can pull off the side of the road and toss a stick for your dog in Lake Montauk from a small sandy beach that is an East Hampton Township preserve.
Cedar Point Beach
Cedar Point County Park
Although this beach is mostly cobbles there is more than a mile of frontage on Gardiner's Bay. Stick close to water for easy hiking.
Most of the island between the Forks is comprised of the Mashomack Preserve that does not allow dogs. But on Midway Road, to the west of Route 114, your dog can play on 500 yards of soft sand beach on the north shore of Shelter Island Sound.
Long Beach Park
With is shallow aqua-tinged water, this long curving beach at the foot of Noyack Bay resembles the edge of a tropical harbor. The gentle waves will entice any level of canine swimmer. Dogs are allowed on the beach year-round in designated areas, usually where the cobbles dominate the sand.
Indian Island Beach
Indian Island County Park
A crescent-shaped strip of thick sand has formed to connect Indian Island to the mainland in Flanders Bay. Some shells and stones mix with the sand and your wave-loving dog will enjoy a frothy challenge here.
Orient Point Beach
At the tip of the North Fork. Suffolk County maintains a 48-acre open space. This beach and Truman's Beach down Route 25 (East Marion res- idents only) played an important role during the War of 1812. A short half-mile trail leads your dog to over a mile of beach on the Long Island Sound.
Doggin’ The Outer Banks
North Carolina’s Outer Banks serve up more than 130 miles of the dog-friendliest beaches travelers are likely to find. But pulling onto the barrier islands from Route 158 don’t dive right into its conventional charms just yet. Instead, head north for a bit and check out the unhurried towns of Duck and Corolla. Your dog can romp on these residential beaches under voice control. A perfect prelude to your dog’s vacation on the Outer Banks.
Moving south, your first major attraction is Kitty Hawk where flight enthusiasts make the pilgrimage from around the world to celebrate the birth of powered manned flight. Stop in as well - your dog is welcome here. At the Wright Brothers National Memorial she can walk along the rubber mats that mark the paths of the first four flights by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903. There is more canine hiking back behind the flight path on Big Kill Devil Hill where the two Dayton, Ohio bicycle mechanics tested their experimental fliers on the high dunes with the promise of soft, sandy landings.
While famous for flight, the skies over Kitty Hawk are quiet now. Not so just south of the Wright Brothers Memorial at Jockey Ridge State Park. Flamboyant kites, model planes and hang gliders frequently fill the skies here. On the ground, Jockey's Ridge is one giant sandbox for a playful dog. The deep sands, steep dunes and brisk breezes can make for invigorating canine hiking at Jockey's Ridge. Your dog can play anywhere on these dunes - some of the highest on the Atlantic Ocean - or for those who like their walking on the structured side there are two interpretive nature trails marked by posts across the dunes.
While you are in Kitty Hawk remembering famous firsts, travel a bit further south to Roanoke Island and the Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Here an expeditionary force in the 1580s established the first English settlement in America. The group was well represented by scientists, merchants and other gentlemen of prominent social standing but conspicuously missing, however, were farmers and craftsmen whose skills might have made the colony work.
When a supply ship returned to the settlement on Roanoke Island there was no trace of the "Lost colony." Your dog can explore the mystery with you, including the recreated earthworks of Fort Raleigh and the birth site of Virginia Dare, the first English-speaking baby born in the New World. The Thomas Hariot Nature Trail, named for a scientist on that first voyage, is a rollicking ramble through a maritime forest that emphasizes the natural riches on the island that the doomed English settlers hoped to exploit for riches rather than adapt for survival. The sandy trail pops out onto peaceful Roanoke Sound for some superb dog-paddling.
All this to do with your dog on the Outer Banks and you haven't even traveled the two blocks east to one of the great ocean beaches of the world yet - Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Dogs are allowed year-round on the non-swimming beaches. With only four such beaches in more than 70 miles there is plenty of ocean sand for your dog to roam.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore, designated America's first such beach in 1953, is actually comprised of three islands connected by a free bridge and a free ferrry. Unlike many other national seashores, Cape Hatteras permits dogs on its nature trails. There is a short 3/4-mile nature trail on each of the three islands. These interpretive trails emphasize the harshness of the saltwater environment and the struggle of the plants and animals that colonize the dunes. These rolling, wooded walks on soft sand are a shady treat for dogs after a day of sun and surf. Dogs are not allowed on the trails in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the northern end of Hatteras Island.
For centuries storms, shifting sands and war have visited the turbulent waters off the coast of the Outer Banks. More than 600 ships have wrecked in the seas offshore that have earned Cape Hatteras recognition as "the Graveyard of the Atlantic."
Each of the three islands sports its own historic lighthouse to help steer ships safely. The queen of the trio is the 208-foot Cape Hatteras Light, the tallest brick lighthouse in America. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, a squat 75-foot tower tucked into a residential neighborhood, has been in service since 1823 and is the oldest operating lighthouse in North Carolina. The least known of the Hatteras lighthouses is the Bodie Island Lighthouse, the northernmost. Located away from shore behind a freshwater marsh and partially ringed by pine trees, the Bodie Light's beam reaches 19 miles out to sea from its 156-foot crown. You can hike with your dog on the grounds of all three historic lights.
Cape Hatteras looks much different today than in the days when pirates like Blackbeard, who favored Ocracoke Island as a hideout, cruised these shores. Hundreds of dunes have been built along the beach to protect the Cape. And with so much for your dog to do here, you will want to return again and again to monitor the future changes.
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