Travel in the world has ground to a halt. (If it hasn’t, it should). We all know, 2020 was not the year to road trip with your dog to far away places, unless of course those far away places were far away from people. Outside alone was one of the few places we could go.
Trails, normally the domain of dogs and their people, suddenly filled with leashless bipeds.
Personally, 2020 was the year of loss. I also lost my steadfast four-footed travel companion but gained a new one. Meet puppy Victoria here. The situation got me thinking how much I took travel for granted. I thought about all the places I’ve travelled with my dog in tow, and all of the places I planned to but didn’t.
Now, that pet-friendly travel list has my new puppy’s name on it. Whenever everything safely opens again (including the US/Canadian border), I know where I’m headed. I’ve developed a wanderlust dog dreaming list, which I’m sure will keep growing.
Welcome 2021, welcome Victoria and welcome to my vision of dog-friendly travel (so far) for the next year (or so):
Dog-friendly Acadia National Park, Maine, USA
Acadia National Park, Maine, is one of the American national parks that allows dogs, and it’s become well-known for it. So much, the park has issued special instructions for dog owners and be vigilant about leash rules and clean up.
Clearly, dog poop must be picked up and deposited in bins and dogs must be on leash no longer than six feet. To encourage buy in, the National Parks has a B.A.R.K. Ranger program to ensure a ‘pawsitive’ experience. B.A.R.K. stands for Bag your pet’s waste; Always leash your pet; Respect wildlife; and Know where you can go.
Obviously, there are limitations to taking your dog along to Acadia National Park, including being excluded from all beaches and some trails. But I still want to go. I wanted to take my previous dog Victor there for years, but the possibility became less and less possible as he aged.
Not so with my Sprocker pup Victoria. Hopefully, in the up-coming year, she’ll be ready to make the two-day drive there, and hopefully it will be soon safe to do so.
I’ve been to Maine several times but skirted Acadia Park in favour of shopping and eating lobster in nearby Bar Harbour. My plan is to make the park the focus with Victoria. According to the Acadia, there are 100 miles (160 km) of hiking trails and 45 miles (72 km) of carriage roads where pets are permitted. Dogs are banned from many trails including the most strenuous – The Beehive and Precipice Trail with a one thousand-foot vertical climb.
Two Acadia campgrounds allow dogs, and Isle au Haut (six miles long and two miles wide) permits pets for day hiking only. The scenic Isle au Haut is linked to the mainland by passenger-only ferry, allowing Fido to float along too.
Dog-friendly Thunder Bay, Ontario
An introduction to Thunder Bay’s top travel attractions leads to one conclusion: hugging the Lake Superior’s shore, this is an outdoorsy place. And wherever there’s outdoors, there are dogs. Thunder Bay, Ontario (further north than pet-friendly Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario) is apparently a dog town. There are three fenced dog parks and one off-leash area for a population of 110,000.
I look forward to introducing Victoria to the wilds of Ontario’s north, though it’s a long drive so we’ll likely stop in Sudbury and revisit the places my previous pup enjoyed.
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park has 100 km of hiking trails and some of the highest cliffs in Ontario. And, hopefully, we’ll get to stay in Cabin 4, one of the cabins or yurts Ontario Parks has designated pet friendly.
However, if I follow local advice, Victoria and I will head to the Cascades part of the Lakehead Region Conservation area. The Cascades’ 5.5 km of trails through 162 hectares of land is apparently the most popular dog walking spot in Thunder Bay.
Fort Williams Historical Park celebrates the 19th century fur trade with costumed interpreters and birch bark canoes. I love re-enactment history, and so did Victor. (Check out Victor’s visit to Fort George here). And yes, dogs are welcome at Fort Williams assuming they are leashed and owners take responsibility for all issues.
Of course, a photo of Victoria at the Terry Fox Monument (The Marathon of Hope ended just outside Thunder Bay) is mandatory … we’ll add it to our collection when we get one of the American Liberty Bell too.
Dog-friendly Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
The entire city has been on my dog-friendly radar for a while, primarily because historic Philadelphia is a walking city full of walking tours, and who likes walking more than my pup? Actually, Victoria prefers running off leash but we’re working on that.
Hopefully, she’ll soon be ‘well-behaved’ enough to tag along to any of the many tours: The Constitutional Walking Tour, Phillytechture or Philadelphia by Foot – all boasting dog-friendly status though the interior of many buildings are off limits. I’d end the day with a Ghost Tour – Victor loved those. (See his list here).
From what I understand, Independence National Historic Park is the place to stroll with canines. Of course, I can’t come home without a photo of Victoria with the Liberty Bell. And if I need to delay our visit until late 2021, there’s always the Philly Holiday Lights and Sights Tour. Plus, the outdoor German-style Outdoor Christmas Markets have been on my list for a while.
I’d also look forward to staying at the historic Warwick Hotel opened in 1928. The reviews are mixed, but all historic hotels can have plumbing/water pressure issues. It looks centrally located and is dog-friendly for a fee of $75 per stay plus $46 a night parking fee, which seems surprisingly high.
Maybe there will be some wiggle room, especially when they see how cute Victoria’s wiggle is.