We are now almost a year into the colossal changes that a global pandemic continues to bring to our daily lives. As time has gone on, we’ve all had to adapt to this new normal. We have been forced to appreciate the little things and look for peace and joy in new places. This can be seen daily out on the trails.
Like a great migration back to nature, we are seeing hordes of people, yes literally, seeking solace in the wilderness. Our new-visitor numbers have shot through the roof and have just kept going straight out into space. It makes sense. American writer Edward Abbey once said, “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.” Especially nowadays.
As we welcome new visitors from near and far, we have also seen a significant increase in non-human visitors. Yes, the loveable Canis lupus familiaris, dogs! If anyone has benefited from all of the changes we have endured to our slower day-to-day routines, it is our wonderful canine companions. With more time at home, our pups couldn’t be happier with their new lifestyle. And, of course, we want to include them in our adventures outdoors.
But here’s the thing. The local wilderness is what it is because of how we treat and protect it. Many local trails do not allow dogs – but despite the many signs we continue to see more out there. Many folks will ask why an animal would “disrupt” a place where other animals live. Well, here are some of the facts:
- Domestic dogs are predators and not part of this delicate ecosystem. Wildlife becomes very stressed when a dog introduces its scent on the trails. It has been shown that wildlife such as deer, bobcats, and coyotes, will significantly avoid an area where a domestic dog has left its scent – making it that much harder for these animals to find food.
- Dogs scare native birds from their nesting areas. This can be tragic for the young left behind.
- Only a few truly wild habitats are left in the county where our native species can truly thrive, and they do not have other options. Our wonderful pups, however, do have choices.
These are just a couple of reasons behind the WHY of keeping our dogs off trails. If you want to read more about the details, check out this past story: https://lagunacanyon.org/stories/dogs-in-the-parks/
It’s not just about the protecting the wildlife; we want to protect our dogs too! There are always emergency rescues in the park; unfortunately, it comes with the territory, but some of the more heartbreaking ones involve our canine companions overheating in the backcountry. It’s easy to forget extra water or underestimate the heat. When you get too far out there, and your dog runs into trouble, it can (and has) become dangerous.
Just to reiterate, we LOVE dogs, and we want to see them happy – trust us. There are some beautiful trails, and parks are the perfect place for your furry friend to explore. Here are a few trails that are open for doggies:
- Aliso Creek Bike Trail
- Aliso Peak Trail
- Aliso Summit Trail
- Aswut Trail
- Canyon Acres Trail
- Pecten Reef Loop Trail
- Toovet Trail
- West Ridge Trail
Please remember to plan ahead, check the trail rules at ocparks.com, and (pro tip), bring extra water. Thanks for helping us protect what we all love – our pups and the open space.
You can read more about our pets on our website. Yes, we have an entire page dedicated to our pets. See what I mean? https://lagunacanyon.org/about/our-pets/