It's August, time to think about getting back to school. But dog owners may want to get a jump on the students and take this last chance to hike with your dog across an uncrowded campus. A college is a great place to look for a canine hike when you are traveling. You will find many a campus to be dog-friendly. The best time to visit with your dog is early on a weekend day or when school is not in session. At smaller colleges you can maneuver your dog unobtrusively around campus most any time. Here are some of our favorite campus canine hikes (if you have a nearby college you like to take your dog, let us know!):
Swarthmore College - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
Scott Arboretum - Route 320 north from I-95
The 300-acre Swarthmore campus is developed to be an arboretum, established in 1929 as a living memorial to Arthur Hoyt Scott, Class of 1895. Stop in the office to pick up a tour map to the collections that are integrated with the stone buildings of the college that date to 1864. A dog-friendly campus, you'll find dog water bowls at the drinking fountains as you travel among the 3,000 different kinds of plants. You can finish your tour in Crum Woods where your dog can go under voice control on the rolling dirt paths. You can easily spend an hour or more with your dog exploring these trails.
West Virginia University - Morgantown, West Virginia
Core Arboretum - Monongahela Boulevard, next to the football stadium The 91-acre Core Arboretum on the campus of West Virginia University is named for Earl Lemley Core, the Mountain State's leading botanist, one-time mayor of Morgantown and faculty member at WVU for 44 years. Students began coming to the small forest in the early 1900s and the school acquired the property in 1948. Its steep slopes negated development and today visitors (free admission and parking right at the arboretum) can enjoy the old growth forest that covers the hillsides as it sweeps down to the Monongahela River.
There are 3.5 miles of trails for canine hiking that begin in an upper lawn sprinkled with native specimen trees. The trail drops some 200 feet to the river, past trees estimated at 400 years old. Look for specks of black rock that are remnants of an old coal mine that once operated here. The forest changes composition as it nears the floodplain and thirstier species like silver maples begin to dominate the landscape. The Caperton Trail, an old rail-to-trail, crosses the park for longer explorations of West Virginia's fifth largest city.
Duke University - Durham, North Carolina
Duke Forest - Research Drive off ERwin Road from NC 751
College planners began buying up small farms and forestland as a buffer for the Duke campus in the 1920s. The lands have now evolved into the Duke Forest with nearly 8,000 acres spread across six divisions. Much of the canine hiking is easy going in the woods is through airy pine trees, including stately loblollies and majestic white pines.
Although there are few footpaths in the Duke forest there are more than 30 miles of old woodland roads to travel on. There is also a three-mile graded loop used as a cross-county course that winds through the woods around the campus golf course that makes an ideal one-hour canine hike.
College of the Siskiyous - Weed, California
Bear Trail - College Avenue off I-5
The College of the Siskiyous was founded in 1957 at the base of free-standing Mt. Shasta - the second highest volcano in the Lower 48 at over 14,000 feet. The Bear Creek Trail - so named for the many black bear sightings near the path - is 1.7 miles and easy going on level dirt through a shady forest. The trailhead is within 20 feet of the college sign at the entrance parking lot. The trail is extremely paw-friendly and often padded by pine straw. In addition to the easy-to-follow main trail, there are several forks where you can extend your canine hiking day. Enjoy a stroll through the 250-acre campus after you finish the Bear Trail.
Cornell University - Ithaca, New York
Cornell Plantations - Judd Falls Road off Route 366
According to the arboretum brochure, "The name Plantations was coined by Cornell University professor Liberty Hyde Bailey (1858-1954), who is often called the father of American horticulture. Bailey understood a plantation to be 'a large group of plants, especially trees, under cultivation.'" The Plantations welcome visitors year-round, are free and open sunrise to sunset. Dogs are allowed.
The trails are divided between cultivated collections and natural areas, spread across rolling terrain. The natural areas include over 3,000 acres of diverse habitats - bogs, fens, gorges, glens, meadows and woodlands - as trails roughly trace Falls Creek. Nearby, another four miles of woodland trails beckon in Sapsucker Woods, maintained by the Cornell Ornithology Department, by dogs are not permitted in this sanctuary.
Clemson University - Clemson, South Carolina
The Simpson Agricultural Station between Pendleton and Anderson on Lebanon Road
This is a spacious farm owned by the university and a great place to hike with your dog. Foot travel is invited and there are lots of different terrains to choose from - woods, ponds, miles of level gravel roads, and huge fields for your dog to run in. On a clear day there are beautiful vistas of the mountains. It's a great, off the leash, unfettered walk with your dog!
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