This vacation, bring the dog. Because Saranac Lake is a dog-friendly place.
Wilderness is even more enjoyable with four-legged companionship. If we have ever wondered what it would be like to really wear out our dog, one of our hikes or a paddling visit to an island will let us lean back and watch as they explore every fascinating scent... and we have are a lot of them.
Our immediate wilderness allows dogs off leash, but be sure they reliably come when called (and always clean up after them).
Dogs on Leash: Dog owners are reminded that dogs must be leashed in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks when on trails, at primitive tent sites, at lean-to sites, everywhere above 4,000 feet, or at other areas where the public congregates. It is recommended dogs be kept leashed in most areas for the safety of your dog, the protection of wildlife and as a courtesy to fellow hikers. (2015) DEC guidelines & Wilderness Map (PDF link) showing enforcement area
Our abundant outdoors, relaxed atmosphere, and welcoming events add up to a fun time for everyone.
Take the dog hiking
We have a wide variety of hikes to fit the needs of any hiking party. We should consider our dog's size, athletic ability, and stamina when choosing.
A small dog can go on a big hike if we have a backpack they can fit into when they grow tired. Some large dogs could have the same hiking restraints. Teddy, my big Newfie/Chow mix, always wore out more quickly than Arby, my medium-sized Labrador Retriever/Norwegian Elkhound mix.
On the other hand, there are sporting and working breeds who might be born to do this. All day. Breeds and mixes with some Dalmation (ran alongside carriages), retrievers (leaping into water and grabbing game), and sight hounds (ran down the prey while hunting with humans), are able to tackle an all day hike.
If we are new to this, it's well worth thinking about what our dog's breed or breeds were chosen to do. Norwegian Elkhounds, which made up a lot of my Arby's genetics, had been bred to chase down an elk, corner it, and bark until the hunter caught up with them. Fortunately, he had enough Labrador blended into him to make him easily trainable, and he would come when called. While Teddy had considerable couch potato genes from his Newfoundland side, which seemed to be the majority of his gene pool.
Bloomingdale Bog and The Pines are great choices if we aren't sure how long our dog will last on a hike. They are flat, close to town, and let us easily return to our starting point. When gauging our dog's energy, remember that walking on a leash is going to be different from hiking off-leash. On their own, dogs are going to indulge in more sniffing, circling, and random running than they do matching us pace-for-pace while heeling.
Haystack Mountain and Scarface Mountain begin with wonderful woods walks that make for a great wilderness exploration experience, without necessarily having to climb the mountain at the end of the trail. If our dog is more energetic than we are, they can run literal circles around us, as my perpetually energetic Arby used to do with Teddy and I.
Remember: be confident about controlling our dog when off leash, bring snacks for them to help them concentrate, and bring enough water for both of us.
take the dog on the water
If we have a dog with a lot of independence, or from a breed notoriously difficult off-leash, like a sighthound, we can choose a spot to let them run around safely. A canoe or kayak trip to explore some of our many lake islands is a great way for the whole party to enjoy the wilderness.
Middle Saranac Lake to Lake Flower is a route with many island opportunities. Lake Clear has a wonderful beach with swimming and romping opportunities. Of course, if we have a water breed, the problem won't be getting them into the water... it will be getting them out.
Cover the chain of lakes with a boating expedition. With dozens of potential destinations, we can leave the dock several times and never have the same day twice.
This is a great time to consider one of our guides and outfitters. They can bring the canoes, outfit the party, and suggest an outing which will make for indelible memories.
Take the dog to scenic places
We don't have to be especially rugged, and neither does our dog. Saranac Lake has a whole range of easy paths and scenic drives (who wants to go for a ride?) that let us all stretch our legs, take some stunning photographs, and enjoy the beauties of nature.
Our many road biking loops are also wonderful drives that include some of our most sumptuous autumn vistas. There's usually a trailhead or parking area somewhere along the way to add a hike or scenic overlook to our journey.
Fish Creek Pond has a day use pass that will let us ride our bikes with our dogs on the blacktopped paths throughout the campground. VIC - via State Route 3 takes us to the Visitor Interpretive Center with its many wonderful trails. (Dogs on leash.)
Saranac Lake has an extensive park system. Our many different parks welcome low key activities.
take the dog to events
In any season, we have places and spaces where dogs are welcome, the kind of places they love to explore. We can spend the whole day with our dog; browsing the food and crafts at the Farmers' Market, taking a trail at our own pace, having a takeout lunch in a park, strolling along the lakefront.
Go ahead! Ask our dog if they want to go to the Radirondacks. (That’s how dogs say it.) Who wants to hike and swim and play in the snow and smell every tree on the trail? You do? That’s a good dog!
Choose some pet-friendly lodging. Riverside Pet Supplies has leashes, toys, and food. For the places or times when the dog cannot come, call on our Veterinarian and Animal Care network for doggie day care options.