hiking with your hound

Hiking with your Hound

Hiking with your hound is one of the best ways I think of to get outdoors and exercise. However, it can be tough to find beautiful hikes in Southern California that you can do with your dog. For me, I don’t hike without them and am constantly on the lookout for hikes that will challenge both of us. In honor of Black Friday and the commitment to being outdoors with our pups I thought I would share 5 of my favorite hikes. They are varying degrees of difficulty which should accommodate all levels of fitness for both you and your dog and hopefully give you even more reason to get outdoors and explore. As with any outdoor adventure these hikes are in nature and we have encountered all sorts of wildlife from rabbits and squirrels to coyotes and an occasional bobcat. Please be aware and take the necessary precautions.

Moulton Meadows Park Hike

I will start with the easiest and work my way up. So the first hike on the list is in Laguna Beach and starts at Moulton Meadows Park. You can park on the street and walk up the hill past the tennis courts. There is a sidewalk along the edge of the field that you can use to get to the entrance of the trail. It isn’t marked so you will have to keep your eyes open. Once you enter the trail, turn right and just follow it all the way to the end. It is a beautiful hike with an ocean view at the end. It is about 2 miles roundtrip with a pretty easy up and down. The only exception is on the way out, the last uphill climb can be pretty grueling. But if you take your time and take breaks as needed it is a wonderful hike.

Moulton Meadows Park in Laguna Beach

This is the sidewalk from the street to the entrance of the trail. It is a great place to go for sunset views too!

First part of the trail in Moulton Meadows

This is the view from the first section of the downhill part of the trail. This is quite a workout on the way out.

Carbon Canyon

The second hike is in Carbon Canyon. There are quite a few trails here and it is definitely a great place to explore. The wildlife here is more apparent and it is very common to see deer and coyote. We have also run into rattlesnakes and tarantulas in the warmer weather so please be cautious and aware. This trail can be hot with little to no shade so we try to do this in the early morning. We take Carbon Canyon Road past the Carbon Canyon Park to Olinda Drive and follow that to the end and park. There is a road you can walk up to the water tower or you can take the trail up. Once you get to the water tower keep going past and you see another trail. Follow that to the fence at the end. This is a very easy 3 mile RT hike. It is an out and back which makes it easy to stop and turnaround whenever you or your pup get tired. There are some beautiful views here and the trails are very prominent. Bring water. Your dog will thank you.

Carbon Canyon at the water tower

This is at the water tower before you hit the trail on the other side.

View from the top of the trail in Carbon Canyon

One of the may beautiful views on this hike.

grassy trail in Carbon Canyon

At the top of this hill is the water tower. Depending on the time year, this can be very green or not. Watch out for the foxtails and ticks here. We inspect our dogs after every hike.

green meadow at carbon canyon

One of my favorite images of Marty. He loves it here and really enjoys the hike and exploring. I wouldn’t recommend having your dog off-leash unless he has an excellent recall as this is a very large area with all kinds of critters and you must be able to call your dog as needed.

We now start to get into some more challenging hikes with more distance, higher elevations and tougher trails. I would suggest that you not attempt these hikes unless you are in fairly good shape and have done some prep hikes with your dog to make sure he is in shape as well. I also suggest that you carry a daypack with water and snacks for both you and your dog. You will also want to dress in layers, where sturdy boots and bring hiking poles. Depending on the time year you go, you may want to have a jacket for your pup as well. In the winter, there is a possibility of snow and ice, so please dress and prepare accordingly.

Icehouse Canyon Hike

Icehouse Canyon is a great hike near Mt. Baldy and is a 7.9 mile loop. It can be quite busy at times and the destination is usually the saddle where you have great views of Mt. Baldy and Ontario Peak. We typically arrive just before first light so we don’t run into many hikers at the start of our hike. For these types of hikes, we usually have our dogs carry water and treats. Marty is tireless and so the backpack doesn’t affect him. I highly recommend Ruffwear for your dog’s hiking gear. I love the fit and the ability to withstand all of the wear and tear from the trail.

This is the beginning of the trail. It goes along this creek for the first 2 miles. As you can see, Marty is wearing his backpack and it is filled with water bottles. I carry the treats. 🙂

Ruffwear backpack

Marty loves the water, so at every opportunity he goes in.

Icehouse canyon river

The beginning of the trail is pretty wide, but it does get narrower in parts as you go up.

hiking Icehouse Canyon trail

This is a trail and great training for hiking Mt. Baldy.

Bridge to Nowhere Hike

This next hike is the East Fork Trail or (Bridge to Nowhere) and is great to do during the summer because of the great swimming holes and river crossings along the 9 miles out and back. It is rated difficult so be sure you and your pup are in shape. This hike is one we typically do during the week and start just before the sun comes up. It can be very crowded, especially during the weekend and during the summer it gets very hot. It goes along the east fork of the San Gabriel river and then climbs up above the water line along the cliffs. At the end you will find a 130-foot concrete span bridge left over from an attempt to build a road north through the canyon. During the weekend the bridge is filled with bungee jumpers. There are a half dozen stream crossings so you will need waterproof boots even when the water is low. This is rated as strenuous so both you and your dog should have some hiking experience before attempting to reach the bridge.

The first part of the trail is along the San Gabriel river. All of our dogs love the water, but Marty LOVES the water. Here he and Molly are taking a dip before continuing up the trail with Dylon.

playing in the east fork of the san gabriel river

Hiking with our dogs

Here is where the trail begins to climb and you start moving away from the river. It can be very hot so be sure and bring enough water for both you and your dog.

bridge to nowhere rim trail

Here is Marty showing off the landscape in the background as we take a quick break on our way  back down.

Views hiking the east fork of the san gabriel river

Mt. Baldy Hike

The last hike on our list is a 11.3 mile loop hike up Mt. Baldy. This is a no joke hike and you and your pup need to be in great shape. You will be making a 3,900 ft elevation climb up to the top where you will reach 10,068 ft! You should plan on starting this hike in the early morning and it will take you all day. This is a full day hike and you will need to bring plenty of water and snacks for you and your dog. I would also recommend hiking poles, sturdy hiking boots and a first aid kit. I wrote a previous blog about hiking gear for your pup that you can check out here.

We started at the Manker Flats trailhead (National Parks Adventure Pass required), taking the winding fire road up Baldy Notch, then hiking the Devil’s Backbone to the summit. Our return route took us down the steep Baldy Bowl trail, passing the Sierra Club Ski Hut and San Antonio Falls on the way back to Manker Flats.

The views are to die for and on a clear day you can see FOREVER! I can’t stress enough the fact that you need to prep for this hike and brings layers…for your dog too. When we arrived at the summit, it was very windy and we were not able to stay long even though we had packed for it.

This is looking down at the ski lift from about halfway up the hill. This was extremely steep and difficult to climb due to the loose rocks. Slow and steady was my mantra. Looking back it is an amazing view!

looking down at the mt. baldy ski lift

This is Dylon with Molly and Marty walking across the Devil’s Backbone. Molly was not a fan of the narrow trail with drops on both sides. Marty of course didn’t even notice.

hiking with the dogs across the devils backbone

This is the view looking back over the section we just crossed over. You can see why Molly might have been a little freaked out. But what views!

View looking back at devils backbone

This was the last extremely steep section before reaching the summit. It looks like it’s straight up because it is! You can tell that even Marty was slowing down a bit by this time.

nearing the top of Mt. Baldy

We Made it! I think everyone was happy to get to the top. We took a break and has some snacks and water before heading back down.

Mt Baldy Summit

Marty looking like a Boss! He did great for his first really intense hike.

Marty at the top of Mt. Baldy

I hope you find the information here useful and are able to try one of these hikes with your dog. I have laid out the basics, but please do some research before embarking on the hikes to make sure you pick one that is the correct level for you not only you but also your dog. Also, as a note, while all of these images show our dogs off-leash, we are always aware of other hikers and dogs and put them on leash if others are nearby. We look forward to hearing from you if you try any of these hikes or let us know if you have some new ones we should try. We would love to hear from you!

See you on the trail,


xx Mary + the Sage Hounds


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