It’s finally springtime and that means many of us, and our dogs, are itching to get outside more and more. To ensure we’re all able to enjoy the trails this season, we’ve compiled a helpful Q&A for dog-owners, and a list of where to take your furry friends!
Why do so many properties require dogs to be leashed?
Many parks and properties with trails open to the public require all dogs to be leashed at all times. Here’s three big reasons why:
- Two things can be true: your dog can be great off-leash AND some folks are just not comfortable around dogs. We all come from different backgrounds and have different life experiences! The simple act of leashing your dog enables people with mobility issues, small children, past trauma associated with dogs, or simply anyone who isn’t a fan of dogs, to feel safe on land and trails that are open to the public. It’s such an easy thing to do to help others to feel like they can and deserve to enjoy the outdoors just as much as you!
- Protecting the environment from your dog’s natural curiosity is important, and your responsibility as a pet owner whenever you’re not at home! Unleashed dogs can run off trail and negatively impact plants and wildlife, and Maine has strict laws that prohibit dogs from chasing, killing, wounding, or pursuing both wild and domestic animals. When your dog’s not in sight, it’s hard to know what they’re trampling, licking, eating, or chasing.
- Simply put: You’ll be able to see when and where they go in order to successfully pick up after them each time!
There are many places where your dog is allowed to enjoy the freedom of running free off-leash (click here for a whole list!) – please respect the properties that do require your dog to be leashed. Most towns have local ordinances that require you to leash your dog in public places, including parks. Land trusts thoughtfully consider the impact on habitat and wildlife when deciding whether or not dogs are allowed. You never know when a fellow trail user, animal, or part of our environment will be harmed in a way you didn’t expect. Our actions shape how others in our community determine the safety and accessibility of our local trails. Leashing your dog is an important aspect in making our trails accessible to all!
BTLT member, community gardener, and dog owner Alisha shares, “I take my dog out on trails year-round so we’re both happier creatures. We’re often on BTLT or Brunswick Town properties getting some fresh air and joyful movement. Several trail systems have deer hanging around or are near roads with high-speed cars going by; by keeping my dog leashed, I’m keeping her, the wild animals, and the environment safe.”
When your dog goes into the woods, it doesn’t just go in the woods. Rain washes pet waste and its bacteria downstream and into our local waterways, and ultimately to local beaches and clam flats. Bacterial and viral pollution from dog waste is a health risk to both wildlife and people.
Reminders & Tips:
- It’s tick season! To limit exposure, try to walk in the middle of trails, away from vegetation, wear light-colored clothing to make ticks easier to spot, and tuck your pants into your socks. Make sure to check yourself and your dog thoroughly for ticks after your stroll outside.
- For off-leash dog areas, click here.
- On especially hot days, make sure to bring water for yourself and your furry friends! Know the signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion in both yourself and your hiking companions.
For a PDF version of the following list, click here.
Great local trails that allow leashed dogs:
- Butler Head Preserve
- Lily Pond Community Forest
- Sewall Woods Preserve
- Thorne Head Preserve
- Whiskeag Trail
- Androscoggin River
- Bicycle Path – home of the Merrymeeting Dog Park!
- Bay Bridge Landing
- Wetland Park
- Bowdoin Pines
- Brunswick Landing Perimeter Trail
- Captain William A. Fitzgerald U.S.N. Recreation and Conservation Area
- Chase Reserve
- Cox Pinnacle
- Crystal Spring Farm
- Greater Commons & Town Commons
- Kate Furbish Preserve
- Lishness Park
- Maquoit Bay Conservation Land
- Neptune Woods
- Woodward Cove
- Woodward Point Preserve – dogs allowed on a trial basis
- Cliff Trail
- Curtis Farm Preserve
- Devil’s Back (Orr’s Island)
- Giant’s Stairs Trail and McIntosh Lot Preserve
- Hackett and Minot Trails
- Houghton Graves Park
- Johnson Field Preserve and Mackerel Cove Town Lot
- Little Ponds Preserve
- Long Reach Preserve
- Mitchell Field – dogs not allowed on North Beach
- Otter Brook Preserve
- Pott’s Point Preserve
- Schiller Coastal Studies Center (Orr’s Island)
- Stover’s Point Preserve
- Widgeon Cove Trail
- Wilson’s Cove Trail
- Androscoggin Woods
- Bridge to Bridge Trail/Riverwalk
- Cathance River Trail at Head of Tide Park
- Foreside Recreation Town
- Mt. Ararat High School Trails
- Recreation Fields Trails
- River Landing Trail
- Tarbox Preserve
- Topsham Public Library
- Eagle Path
- Topsham Ponds
- Green Point Preserve
This list isn’t exhaustive and it’s always best to confirm with the property owner/maintainer’s website to confirm that dogs are still allowed. Additionally, you can use Maine Trail Finder to search for pet-friendly trails (and wheelchair friendly trails). Happy hiking!
For a PDF version of this list, click here.
Photos of Marcie the pup provided by Alisha Chaney