Long-distance hikers often bring along their canine companions on extended backpacking trips, however this is rare on the Arizona Trail. Lack of water, rocky terrain, cactus forests, poisonous wildlife, and prohibitions of dogs on trails within certain areas make a thru-hike or long-distance trip with a dog very difficult. Day trips and well-planned overnight adventures in some areas are possible, however.
Dogs are not allowed on trails within the following areas:
- Coronado National Memorial (Passage 1)
- Saguaro National Park (Passage 9)
- Pusch Ridge Wilderness (Passages 11-12)
- Grand Canyon National Park (Passages 37-39)
Just like with humans, finding (or carrying) ample water for your Arizona Trail adventure is most important. Planning a trip with your pup requires identifying water sources in advance. Consult the water source page or guidebook for more information.
Most passages of the Arizona Trail are rocky and can tear a pooch’s paws within a few miles. A well-conditioned dog is necessary to survive an extended outing on the AZT, and training them to wear dog boots in advance of your hike is wise. Ruff Wear is among the many companies that specialize in dog boots for rocky, sandy and challenging terrain.
Cactus, specifically, cholla is a concern for hiking with dogs in the southern portion of Arizona. These often end up in feet or legs, but the dilemma begins when your dog tries to remove the painful prickers with their mouth. The spines lodge deep within their cheeks, tonque and gums, and cholla have asphyxiated many dogs. Carrying a plastic comb for swift removal of cholla is vital. Needle nose pliers are also a good tool to add to your kit for removing large spines or if the cholla ball ends up in your dog’s mouth.
Poisonous wildlife, especially rattlesnakes, can also be lethal to your pet. Keeping your dog leashed will minimize this potential hazard. Rattlesnakes are prevalent on the Arizona Trail, especially south of the Mogollon Rim. Black bears are also a concern, and are found throughout the state – including the Huachuca, Santa Rita, Rincon and Santa Catalina Mountains in the south.
Wherever you choose to hike with your dog, please use a leash. This will minimize conflicts with other trail users (hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians alike) and help you and your four-legged friend enjoy a safe and memorable experience on the Arizona National Scenic Trail.