Author Doug Gelbert created the Waggies Awards in an effort to let dog owners know where the best hiking spots in America are located. He put it into a book entitled “The Waggies: Awards for Dogs Who Love to Hike.” Some of the nominees are located in California, which you can see from the following excerpts.
Best Canine Hike in Sand Dunes
Do dogs have more fun racing in nature’s sand box than anywhere else? It sure seems like it when dog meets dunes. America is not lacking for opportunities for your dog to shift into four-paw drive and climb massive piles of sand.
Nominee: Mojave National Preserve – Kelso Dunes
Don’t be put off by the Devil’s Playground that is anchored by the Kelso Dune Field – these stacked dunes are easy to reach and fun to climb. The tallest top out at about 650 feet and there are long hikes available along the crest. Oddly, the sand here is not being replenished, so your dog is hiking on grains that have been around a long time. If you slide down Kelso Dunes slowly, the sand will begin to “sing.” Your dog will probably take a pass on that.
Best Canine Hike to a Natural Arch or Bridge
All dogs know that flowing water is required to carve a hole through a rock wall to form a natural bridge, while an arch is freestanding and does not span a water course. But for the purposes of awarding the Waggie we are not making a distinction. What matters is finding the best hike to one of these eye-catching natural wonders…
Nominee: Alabama Hills Natural Arch Loop
“A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!” Sorry, this is where the resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early western United States, as did more than 400 other Hollywood movies since the 1920s. In addition to being a movie set, the Alabama Hills, a jumble of rounded, weathered granite boulders piled across a desert flatlands that form a vibrant contrast with the sharply sculptured ridges of the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, also is a swell place to hike with your dog. The stone-lined Arch Loop is the only formal hiking trail in the 30,000-acre Alabama Hills, leading to the twisted, personal-size Mobius Arch that provides a literal window directly to Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the Lower 48. Stone steps tame the small arroyos along the way.
Best Canine Hike in the Big City
WINNER: Griffith Park
It is the obvious recipient of the Waggie. If there was one essential canine hike of Americana it would have to be the hike to the Hollywood sign, wouldn’t it?
What was erected in 1923 as a billboard for selling houses and intended to stand for only 18 months is now the most recognizable icon of American culture to the rest of the world. The favored route to the Hollywood sign atop Mt. Lee is the Canyon Drive Trail, because at the start, your dog can pay homage to another Hollywood legend – the campy 1960s “Batman” television series. A short hike from the trailhead in the opposite direction leads to Bronson Caves, best known to Adam West fans as the entrance to the Batcave.
The trip to the Hollywood sign will cover 3.25 miles and will increase nearly 1,000 feet in elevation, most on a steady climb. It is illegal to hike to the sign, perched safely behind restrictive fences, with or without your dog. Instead, the final steps to the summit wind around behind the 50-foot high letters to the famous DOOWYLLOH view – Hollywood spelled backwards. Even without the sign, the panorama of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean from 1,708-foot Mt. Lee is amazing. A true American classic of a canine hike.