Hike New Hampshire
Trips in NH

Other Questions

We have been asked all kinds of questions during the time we have had Hike-NH on the web. If you can't find it elsewhere in this FAQ, it should be here.



Are dogs allowed on Mt. Osceola's hiking trails?
First, let me say I absolutely commend you for asking the question. This shows that you are a responsible pet owner, and we'd probably welcome you and your dog along on one of our trips.

But, as with most questions, there is a long and short answer to this one. The short answer is yes. For the official confirmation of this, as if we'd steer you wrong, check out the WMNF page athttp://www.fs.fed.us/r9/white/faq.html#1. This is the #1 question on the WMNF FAQ page. Here is the reprinted answer:

Dogs are allowed on the WMNF, but must be under verbal or physical restraint at all times. Be considerate of other hikers. Carry a leash not longer than 6 ft. and use it when around other people. Please remember to clean up after your dog.
The longer answer is more complicated. For starters, dogs are NOT allowed in New Hampshire State Parks. Secondly, not everyone likes dogs. Both Chris and Rob grew up with dogs, so we love them (although even we get fed up with them sometimes . . . read Rob's Pawtuckaway review). But, dogs can have a tremendous impact on the backcountry. The following is from an important book that everyone should read (available for purchase on our books page) titled:Leave No Trace. A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquetteby Annette McGivney. © Backpacker Magazine 1998. pp 79-80:
Although pets are banned from most National Park trails, it is common to see people traveling and camping with their dogs in most other wildland areas. For the dog, roaming about in the backcountry is a great thrill and beats a boring city park any day. However, bringing these domestic animals into a wild area often disturbs other users and it has a negative impact on the environment. Dogs chase other people's dogs, they harass wildlife (which can have serious consequenses with a threatened species like bighorn sheep), they bark, they disrupt water sources, and they deficate on the trail and at campsites.

But with all this being said, some people (women backpacking alone, for instance) find that a well-trained dog is a faithful trail companion and is worth taking the extra precautions to minimize the animal's impact on the environment. If after weighing the pros and cons, you decide to take your dog with you into the backcountry, follow these guidelines to keep your dog and its inevitable impacts in check:

  • Try to choose a rarely visited destination where there will be little chance of contact with other users.
  • Regardless of where you are, keep your dog on the trail and restrained from chasing wildlife.
  • Restrain your dog from barking at and jumping up on other hikers.
  • When your furry friend leaves a little doggie pile, pull out your trowel and bury it away from the trail and water sources in a cat hole just as you would human feces.
  • Instead of allowing your dog to romp through springs and ponds--which will likely scare away area wildlife from a critical water source for some time--scoop the water into a bowl and let Fido lap it up 200 feet away.
  • Prevent your dog from defecating in [or near] water. Dogs, like beavers and other animals, can carryGiardiaand thus can contaminate water.
  • In camp, keep your dog restrained or have it trained to stay within the site; a wandering dog will disturb wildlife and perhaps other campers.
  • Dog food is very aromatic and will attract wildlife. Secure it with your own food.
  • Keep your dog from barking
As you can see, there are some great considerations. We would add two things. First, many trails in the WMNF have decent size rocks that need to be climbed. Depending on the size of your dog, you may actually end up carrying/lifting it as much as it as much it walks by itself. Second, most people drastically underestimate the amount of water that they need to drink when on the trail and they never think about their pets. Make sure you carry extra water for the dog -- along many trails in the WMNF there are no springs or puddles to get water from. I suggest a special doggie pack -- let the dog carry its own supplies. Oh yeah -- remember that in NH, it is also against the law for a dog to travel unrestrained in the open back of a vehicle. This includes pick-ups and JEEPs with the top down. It is also against the law to leave a dog in a parked car with the windows up.

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Hiking the Happy Trials with My Dog
Some considerations when bringing along the family pet
By Donna Raymond (© 2001 Donna Raymond, Used by Permission)

I am the fortunate owner of a Cairn Terrier who has the stature of a cat but the spirit of a Labrador Retriever. The PoochI have enjoyed several years of safe and fun hiking with her, I suppose primarily because I have taken the time to consider what her needs are on a hiking trip in addition to my own.

I want to preface this story with the admission that a 20-lb dog is obviously not entirely comparable to a 120-lb one, but there are many considerations both sizes of dogs have in common. As your pet's guardian, you are ultimately in the best position to know what equipment works best for you and your pet. What's important is that you take the time to think through what could be helpful to take along on a hike to ensure the comfort and safety of your pet and of those around you.

One of my favorite pieces of equipment is a simple chest harness. My dog's is padded in the front and doubles as a car restraint when we are travelling. I make sure the harness is on tight enough so that it can't easily come off but not constricting (after all, she breathes a little heavier during a hike just like I do!). I attach a Flexi-lead to the harness when walking with her so that the lead always remains taught. I like this system best because in the unlikely event she should lose her footing on a steep trail and fall, I can easily grab her by the chest – NOT the neck which could choke or unduly panic her in an already tense situation. The flexible lead is also helpful here: in the event a fall required her to need a little more line, in most cases I can easily give it to her.

Even though my dog is small, I always keep her on lead when I am walking with her. My experience has been that no matter how well trained the dog, if something interesting enough comes along (like, another dog or a chipmunk), it's liable to momentarily forget all that obedience stuff and succumb to wanderlust. I was once on a trail with my dog when a very large Rotweiller came in the other direction – with owner a few feet behind but sans leash – and I had to very quickly scramble to pick my dog up to prevent any unnecessary vocal posturing or scuffle. That's not to say that the Rotweiller wasn''t a perfectly nice dog in a more domesticated setting, but I should not have had to take steps to protect my dog and avoid a possibly nasty situation. Nobody should. The message to take home: when you are walking with your dog in a public area, have it on lead at all times. If the lead you have isn''t convenient, buy one that is better suited to your needs before you go on your next hike. It will be well worth the price, both in terms of dollars and peace of mind.

A few somewhat unusual pieces of equipment I take with me for use with my dog are a pet pouch, a pet backpack, and something I made myself that doesn''t even have a name but is basically a ring of rope. The pet pouch is an invaluable asset for anyone with a dog 20 lbs and under. It is basically a pouch that straps around your back, over your shoulders and around your waist and is designed to hold the animal against the front of your chest facing away from you (it has openings for the feet and a little slit for the all-important tail). I have used the pouch on a couple of occasions when we found ourselves in a pinch. Once was climbing Mt. Chocorua: as we approached the top, we found ourselves walking up a steep slope of rock – not something her little paws were especially adept at clinging to. Rather than riskhaving her slide down the side of the mountain, I whipped out my pet pouch and stuck her in it. It kept her safe against me while I had the use of both hands to grip the rock and focus on my footing. The other instance was hiking up to Lonesome Lake. Near the top it began to pour, and the moist ground quickly became two-inch mud. That wasn''t too bad for me to handle, but four-inch long legs can only handle so much. Once again, out came the pouch, and the travelling got a lot smoother from there for both of us. The pet pouch is virtually weightless and rolls up, so it's never a bother to have along. It is important with this device that you make sure it's adjusted to fit snugly around the dog BEFORE you have to use it – you don''t want the dog to accidentally slip out of it when you''re on a steep slope because it was too loose!

The pet backpack is a much more serious piece of equipment, but can be worth its weight in gold on long trips. While the pet pouch is great for tight situations in the short term, it is not always so great for extended use. I find that having 20 lbs extra hanging from the front of my chest becomes a strain on my back muscles after a half hour or so. In these situations, a backpack allows for much better posture and can be used for longer periods of time. It's sort of a cocoon made into a pack: the animal slips into the cocoon, and is able to sit in it, while a built-in neck collar keeps the animal gently secured in place. The pet backpack weighs about 10 lbs so it's not exactly as light as a feather, but on a long trip, I wouldn''t be without it.

The last piece of equipment is something I designed myself out of sheer necessity. My dog doesn''t particularly like water, and sometimes trying to cross even a small stream with her during a hike can be a daunting task. I wanted something really quick and easy that I could use to lift her up and over the water. After much thought and many trials (for which my dog was the unwilling guinea pig), I ended up coming up with a simple cotton rope cut to an appropriate length and with both ends sewn together to form a loop (function does define form after all). The loop is slipped under her belly such that one strand of it is positioned under her front legs, and the other strand is positioned under her back legs. The rest of the rope on both sides of her body is brought together over the center of her back to form a sort of handle. Handle I then pick her up with one hand, making a “doggie briefcase” of sorts, and quickly transport her over the water. The nice thing about this system is that it leaves her fairly immobilized so she can''t squirm and take me off balance. While the idea of this rope may seem strange, I''ve actually found it extremely convenient on a couple of occasions. The nice thing is that it can be made at home for any size dog (for instance, a large dog that lands in freezing water and becomes shocked can have this loop rope put underneath him and transported much more easily by one or two people than trying to awkwardly pick him up and perhaps have the rescuer lose his balance in the process).

Then last but not least are the other necessities to bring with you – some healthy snacks for your dog to munch on, plenty of fresh water, a plastic baggie to scoop up doodies (all of which can be transported in a pack your dog can carry himself if you are so inclined), and a first-aid kit with bandage, gauze, etc. should your pet injure himself during the hike.

The last couple of conveniences I take along are a hand towel (to wipe up muddy or wet paws before they get all over me or my car's upholstery), and a big towel and doggie bed which I leave in the car. Usually after a long hike my dog's pretty zonked, so I let her lay on her doggie bed during the ride home, and dream of hiking the happy trails.

Here's wishing all of you safe and enjoyable hiking with your pets!

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Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy