L.A.’s 8 Best Dog-Friendly Summer Hikes

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Please read our previous post if you have not hiked at high altitude before and consult with your doctor prior to doing these hikes if you are a beginner.

With the desert climate, Los Angeles can get brutal during summer months. We like to escape the summer heat by going up to higher elevation. I’ve selected our 8 favorite hikes near Los Angeles at between 6,500 – 9,500 feet with less than 10 miles in total distance. Although these are considered high altitude hikes, most people would not be affected by the altitude severely at this altitude if you are in a good shape. 

1. Big Horn Mine (7,000′)

In the early 1900s, Big Horn Mine used to be a profitable gold mine. Now, this abandoned mine is a popular hiking destination for SoCal hikers. Big Horn Mine is located near Wrightwood and sits just shy of 7000 ft. Its short distance (4 miles) and a moderate elevation gain (650 ft) make this a great summer hike for you and your pup. Get out there early and beat the crowds.

  • Total Distance:  4 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

2. Cooper Canyon Falls (6,400’+)

This moderate 3-mile hike is partly shaded and well-maintained. The trail starts from the Buckhorn Campground in the Angeles National Forest and the start of this trail is at 6,400 feet. The trail is available all year round but the gate to the campground is closed for the cars during an off-season. This hike can be easily combined with nearby Mt Islip or Mt Waterman if you want more challenge.

  • Total Distance:  3 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Moderate
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

3. Tahquitz Peak lookout (8,846′)

At 8,846 feet, Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout is the highest lookout in the San Bernardino National Forest. This 8.5-mile hike is rated difficult with an elevation gain of 2,298 ft. The lookout is a great place to have lunch and enjoy the 360-degree of the incredible view. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow. It starts from the Humber Park parking lot via Devils Slide Trail.

  • Total Distance:  8.5 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Difficult
  • Permit Required:  Yes – San Jacinto Wilderness Permit & Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

4. Hikes Around Big Bear Lake

At 6,752′ ft, Big Bear Lake is a popular weekend getaway destination from L.A. all year round. The town is dog-friendly and there are many dog-friendly hiking trails nearby. Grandview Point(7,733′), Bertha Peak(8,201′), and Castle Rock(7,372′) are a few of our favorites. Click on the link above to get details on these hikes and more. I’ll leave it up to you to choose a hike that tickles your fancy.

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

5. Mt Islip (8,251′)

We’ve hiked to Mt Islip many times and it is still one of my favorite hikes in the Angeles National Forest. The view of the San Gabriel Mountain ranges from Mt Islip never gets old. When we hiked there in May, we even cooked lunch at Little Jimmy Campground and spent some time hanging in the hammock which is probably Xena and my favorite pastime next to hiking. This is a good backpacking option.

  • Total Distance:  7 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Challenging
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

6. Mt Waterman (8,038′)

You can do this hike as a loop or out-and-back. If you prefer a loop, follow the guide as is. If you prefer out-and-back (my preference as well), after reaching the peak, come back down the way you went up. This way, you get to enjoy the partly shaded trail with views in the first 1/2 of the loop. If you are up for a challenge, you can extend the hike by adding Twin Peaks. That would make the total distance 11.6 miles with an elevation gain of 3,640 ft. Just make sure you have enough water and food for both you and your dog.

  • Total Distance:  6.4 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Challenging
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

7. Throop Peak (9,137′) & South Mount Hawkins (7,782′)

Two great options in one. Lightly trafficked Dawson Saddle Trail is beautiful and is worth the drive. With the total distance of only 6.2 miles, these two hikes can be easily bundled into one. With options to extend, this is a great summer hike and backpacking option. My favorite part is the Pacific Crest Trail to Mt Hawkins.

  • Total Distance:  6.2 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Challenging
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

8. Mt Baden-Powell (9,406′)

With lots of switchbacks, this hike gains almost 3,000 feet in elevation. It’s definitely a challenge but the incredible 360-degree view of the San Gabriel Mountains from the top is worth the thigh-burning climb. This is one of the popular hikes so expect the crowds on weekends. Start early as there is almost no shade on this trail.

  • Total Distance:  8.3 miles
  • Difficulty Rating:  Difficult
  • Permit Required:  Yes – Adventure Pass

Best dog-friendly hikes in Southern California

 

Even at these altitudes, it can be still too hot for your pup to hike during midday. Please hike early in the morning with your dog to avoid the heat exhaustion. When there is a heat wave, skip hiking and go to a beach, lake or stay by a pool instead. No view is never worth their safety or yours.

Happy Hiking!

 

 

 

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4 comments on “L.A.’s 8 Best Dog-Friendly Summer Hikes”

  1. It’s funny that when ever I think about Los Angeles, I think about crowded streets and traffic jams. I never would have thought about so much mountain. Thank you for this list. Who knows, we may make our way down there sometime.

    1. I am thankful that there are several national forests around here for many dog-friendly hiking options. You should check it out next time when you are in town! Your amazing trip is coming up soon. I am so excited for you!

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