Howard is a basset hound. He's long, he's low ... and he can hike his ass off.
So every summer, my boyfriend John and I boost the dog into the car and speed into the great Idaho yonder. The three of us have scaled mountains, forged rivers and covered endless miles of trail together. We've shared fun and adventure-and we've done it all in the course of a single day.
Hi-ho, Hi-ho, It's Off to Hike We Go
Dog-friendly trails abound in the areas surrounding Boise. If you want to beat the heat, but are hoping to stick close to home, consider the Mores Mountain Interpretive Trail or the Mores Mountain Loop in the Bogus Basin Ski Resort. The trailhead is easily accessed, and daytripping hikers can revel in the abundant flowers, foliage and easily navigated paths. Tables and restrooms are available in the Shafer Butte Picnic Area.
The cross-country trails in Idaho City make great hiking ground in the off-season, and anyone with a $7.50 temporary permit can leave their car in designated Park N' Ski areas. Keep an eye out for wild life. I've seen deer and a wide variety of critters on those trails, and once encountered a naked guy riding his mountain bike on the Gold Fork Loop.
The Tamarack Resort Nordic Center in Donnelly is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Boise. With a base elevation of nearly 5,000 feet, the ski area offers a pleasant escape when valley temperatures climb into the triple digits. Almost 25 miles of easy, intermediate and advanced hiking trails crisscross the gorgeous landscape. Tamarack wants $3 for a doggie day pass.
A few years ago, John and I climbed the Bruneau Sand Dunes, marveled at Bruneau Canyon and explored Silver City with Howard at our sides. The itinerary combined breathtaking natural landscapes with a dash of Idaho history, and we wrapped up the 12-hour day with a couple of beers in Hyde Park.
Daytripping Tips for Dog Lovers
Hiking with a dog requires a little extra planning and preparation. Keep these tips in mind to maximize the good times shared with your pet.
Pack plenty of water. Water is critical to the success of any daytrip-and it's up to you to pack in enough for yourself and your furry sidekick. Stuff a collapsible nylon water bowl in your backpack and serve up the H2O as needed. It's OK to let your dog drink out of fast-running streams, but still water is a breeding ground for bacteria and should be avoided.
If your dog lies down or lags behind, he might be getting dehydrated. Stop immediately and offer him a drink. One way to test for dehydration is to pinch the skin on your dog's back. If it stays up instead falling back into place, your dog very likely needs water. Tacky gums are another good indication your dog is thirsty.
Toughen up those dog pads. Prepare your dog's feet by taking him for regular walks on hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt. Start slow and build up the miles over time. A dog with well-conditioned pads can enjoy all sorts of terrain in the wild.
Be polite. Scoop your dog's poop, obey the leash laws and pack out your trash.
Don't leave your dog in the car with the windows rolled up. It can be risky to leave your dog in a car with the windows partially rolled down, too. Always err on the side of caution.
What are you waiting for? Get out there. Enjoy the great Idaho outdoors-doggie style!