Big Bear is one of the
To date, the San
Bernardino National Forests allows dogs on their trails. Dogs are no
longer allowed on National Park or National Monument trails. We want to keep as many
forest trails open to dogs in our Big Bear Valley as possible.
Every time you are on
our trails with your dog, you are an ambassador for all dog owners. Ensure a safe and happy hike for both you and your
dog, as well as fellow hikers, by sticking to the rules.
There is a
time and place for off-leash activities. It is never in
Many visitors come up to
Big Bear with their dogs without a full realization that they are
now surrounded by wilderness. Urban dogs have no idea of how to
behave in the wilderness. They can't tell a coyote, a deer or a bear
from another dog. Not knowing their way around, they get
disoriented and lost. Being lost is as terrifying for your dog as it would be for
you. And that's a huge wilderness for you to be out there looking for
your dog, putting you at risk.
walk in the woods in Big Bear Valley
is a hike in the wilderness.
Hiking in the wilderness is not a romp in a
dog park. A dog chasing another dog is one thing in a
fenced-in dog park;
the same dog bolting after wildlife in the wilderness is a whole other story.
This sign is posted in
bear country and reads:
"You are entering a wilderness area and must accept certain inherent
dangers, including snow, steep terrain, water and wildlife. There is no guarantee of your safety. Bears have injured and
killed visitors and may attack without warning and for no apparent reason. To enhance your safety and protect park
resources, follow the recommendations posted below."
Keep this in mind:
Bear Valley is bear
country. It is the natural habitat of Black Bears. The above
cautionary words apply. Although black bears rarely attack people, these strong predators are potentially dangerous and are capable
of seriously injuring or even killing humans and/or their
dogs. They need to be afforded their due respect.
A dog can disturb a bear and lead it back to
you. Don't believe it? Read this
for yourself, then ask yourself: How fast can
Visitors with their dogs
must learn first how to treat the
wilderness by respecting its needs first. It's not a right for your dog to be in the
wilderness, it's a privilege. This is the home of wildlife; they do not deserve to be scared or chased by dogs.
We are the wilderness' uninvited
The San Bernardino National Forest Service allows pets on a
six-foot leash. Obey the leash law.
Don't allow your dog to run free.
About leashes: a six-foot leash will give
your dog enough room to tackle the trail without getting tangled up in underbrush or other hikers.
Also, make sure your dog has its identification tags.
Your dog may be the
perfect off-leash dog at home, but here in the wilderness, those
wild instincts can kick in and that same well-trained dog can be off
sniffing out a carcass, checking out scat (bear poop), or chasing
wildlife deep into the woods where it can get hurt or lost. Dogs sniffing in
holes can be infected with rabies or distemper.
Sources of information: BBDC;
Any questions? Call the National Forest service at (800)
280-2267 or (800) 444-PARK.
Please use common
sense. Even if your dog is leashed, sometimes it makes NO
sense to take him/her on a hike in the wilderness with you.
If you do not
have full control of your dog even on a leash (we've all
seen those recalcitrant dogs in dog obedience class, as well as
those that are stronger than their humans), you won't
magically get more control while on a wilderness trail. Your dog
can have you hurtling in a direction you don't want to go (down). Leave that dog at home.
If your dog
already chases after passing cars or animals, this
inclination is amplified as in the wilderness its inhabitants
are unleashed and make unexpected appearances. In hot pursuit,
dogs have been to known to slip off their collars or pull so
hard that their owners let go of their leashes. Respect the
wildlife. Do not allow your dog to traumatize the wildlife in their
home. And besides, can your dog tell the difference between
a harmless garter snake and a rattlesnake? No. I didn't
think so. Leave that dog at home.
If your dog
already acts threateningly to humans and/or other dogs, this
tendency is amplified in strange places, especially narrow
hiking trails. Big Bear trails are shared by people and
their pets, pack animals (horses, llamas, burros, goats, dogs) and wildlife.
Even if it is leashed, your dog can lunge at a passing hiker.
Some of the paths are narrow and even a short leash may not
prevent an aggressive dog from lunging and hurting others.
Lawsuits are costly and dogs get euthanized for their aggressive
behavior. Dogs no longer get "one
free bite." You are liable for any bite of any person in a
lawful place. Leave that dog at home.
Keep your voice low and preserve the natural peace and
make the drive up to Big Bear Valley in search of nature and its
priceless peace and quiet and freedom from the distracting noises and man-made racket in the
metropolis below. Don't mess it up for them.
This means no
impressive loud commands to your dog. Nothing shatters
nature's peace and quiet than dog owners who yell for and shout at
their dogs. The only thing worse than a noisy owner in the
wilderness is a dog that won't stop barking/yapping at
everything. Leave that dog at home.
Stay on the path and walk single file in the middle of the
path to protect the surrounding vegetation, even if the trail is wet,
muddy or icy. You can wash off your boots or shoes, but the plants you
crushed are permanently damaged. Walking in the wilderness is
not the same as a Sunday stroll, arm in arm, in the park.
The San Bernardino National Forest has the
highest concentration of endangered plant species in the United States.
Don't you and your dog go trampling them into extinction! Some areas now ban dogs from using trails. This is due to past problems which arose from off-leash
Unless passing or being passed, maintain a distance
between you and your dog and other hikers, yet be friendly with those you meet on the trail.
loves dogs and some dogs are notorious heel nippers. Please do your best to promote a positive image for
Hikers without pets have the right-of-way. Yield to
them. Some people are afraid of dogs. In general, when you meet another trail user, you will be wished well
if your dog is under total control, i.e., on a short
Pack animals have the right-of-way. Usually the largest animal has right-of-way on trails because they are less
maneuverable. Stepping off the trial may cause them to suffer an injury. Most hoof-stock
-- horses and mules -- can be spooked by dogs. If you meet a horse-packer, the courteous response is
to yield by stepping off the trial with your leashed dog and allowing them to pass.
The old saying "Leave only footprints" applies to dog poop too. To protect wildlife and to keep other
hikers' boots and bikers' wheels odor-free, please take your dog's Zip-Locked poop out
with you to be disposed outside the wilderness area.
It is not enough to
leave your dog's poop on the side of the trail or to bury it in the
wilderness. Dog waste is not the same as that other animals, even that of coyotes or
wolves, as it can do harm to the environment, especially near water
sources that wildlife depend on.
Big dog, big poop.
That's just the way it is. Leak-proof Zip-Loc bags now come in all
sizes. No excuses.
We also stuff plastic
grocery bags in our pockets, just in case we run out of Zip-Loc
bags or need a second bag for double-protection. We find
these freebie bags ideal for removing trash from our wilderness areas. Even on a short hike you can help
out by packing away trailside litter. The Scouts have the
right idea: A Scout is taught to leave a place in better shape than
s/he found it in.
Carry in water (and a
bowl) for your dog.
Dogs get dehydrated faster than humans as they expend much more energy.
Dehydration can contribute to heatstroke, hypothermia, frostbite, mountain sickness
and death. The streams are not
safe to drink from for you or your dog. Those days are long
Give your dog rest periods, as they will hike until they drop, just to please you.
If you're going on a
lengthy hike, pack dog food and a first aid kit with supplies for cut paws, bites, ticks and sprains:
Wrap ® bandage tape (which sticks to itself but not to hair or
skin), antibiotic cream, gauze, tape, towel, antiseptic lotion, tweezers, scissors and a
If you're going to be hiking in an area with rough terrain, consider getting some dog booties to protect tender
Also, make sure that all of your dog's vaccinations and
medications are current, including rabies, bordatella, and heartworm.
Southern California is not an endemic area for Lyme
disease, but cases
have been occuring; ask
your vet about vaccinations.
After any hike, do a careful check for
ticks and for
any burrs or foxtails in your dog's coat. Foxtails can mean an expensive trip to the vet if you let them get in your dog's nose or
ears, so avoid hiking through areas with lots of them.
Practice basic hiking etiquette:
Be courteous and
respectful of others. Protect the quality of their experience.
The person climbing
the hill has the right of way.
Hike with a human partner or stay together as a group.
Hike in small
groups. Split large groups into groups of 4-6
Schedule your hike
to avoid high traffic times.
Kill Nothing but
Take Nothing but Pictures.
Leave Nothing but Tracks.
past. Observe, but do not touch cultural, historical
structures or artifacts.
Do not damage or
remove any rocks, plants or wildlife.
Principles of Leave No Trace:
& Backpacking Links
this page with your dog-loving friends.
>> The Woodland Trail
Big Bear Lake
for lovable dogs awaiting adoption at the
Bear Mountain Dog Rescue
in Big Bear Valley.
Don't Shop" ~ "Spay...Don't
These pages are
dedicated to the memory of Laki
and the good and kind people at
Bear Mountain Dog Rescue.