The Best Day Hike You Can Take With Your Dog In Colorado

North Elbert Trail
San Isabel National Forest • Leadville

The highest mountain in America’s Lower 48 is California’s Mount Whitney at 14,505 feet. You can hike with your dog to the shadow of the summit but the final steps will be yours alone as you leave dog-friendly Inyo National Forest and travel into Sequoia National Park, where dogs are banned from the trails.

The highest spot in America where Seaman is legally allowed to go is Mount Elbert in Colorado, only 65 feet lower than Whitney. The first recorded summit of the peak was by Henry W. Stuckle in 1874. Mount Elbert is still not well known, despite its lofty position as the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains. Snobbish outdoor enthusiasts look at Mount Elbert with a degree of scorn because it is so “easy” to summit. There were even people who piled rocks on neighboring Mount Massive in an attempt to give it the extra twenty feet it would need to surpass Mount Elbert.

Of course, “easy” is relative and all prudent precautions for being on a 14,440-foot mountain must be taken. But any trail dog accustomed to a ten-mile hike can scale Mount Elbert. There are five routes to the top, the most popular being the North Elbert Trail. From trailhead to summit is 4.5 miles, the first two climbing through alpine forests. After the trail bursts above the treeline the route switches back twice before pulling straight to the summit. There is no rock scrambling or “mountain climbing” necessary. Views = amazing.

HIKING TIME: 6-8 hours

(from the book 300 Day Hikes To Take With Your Dog Before He Tires You Out: Trails where you won’t be able to wipe the wag off your dog’s tail)

 

National Parks with Hiking

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Monument
Dogs are allowed on most of the trails on the North and South rims and in campgrounds but are not allowed in the backcountry or beneath the rims

Colorado National Monument
Dogs are not allowed on the trails but are permitted in the campground

Curecanti National Recreation Area
Dogs are allowed on the trails in this park

Dinosaur National Monument
Dogs are allowed on the trails but not on the shuttle that goes to Dinosaur Quarry

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
Dogs are not allowed on the trails in this park

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Dogs are allowed on the dunes and some trails but not in the backcountry

Hovenweep National Monument
Dogs are allowed on the trails in this park

Mesa Verde National Park
Dogs are not allowed on the trails or buildings or in the archeological ruins

Rocky Mountain National Park
Dogs are not allowed on the trails or backcountry but are allowed in campgrounds

 

Hiking With Your Dog In Colorado