2017-02-01 / Features

If I’m walkin’, Fido’s walkin,’ too!

By Kristin N. Compton

A team of researchers at Care.com recently investigated and released its results regarding America’s “most walkable” cities for dogs. The first-ever analysis on “dog walkability” focused on several weighted factors including the average length of dog walks in each city (reported by dog walkers), the availability and quality of dog parks in each city and the city’s human walking score.

While not a single city within Northwest Florida charted the top ten (only 29 major cities across America made the cut for scoring), we still know how much our Gulf Coast residents and visitors alike value their furry family pals; and if you’re out getting some exercise and fresh air, there’s really no reason to leave the pooch behind. There are plenty of places for your canine friend to tag along and have some fun of his or her own.

So get to walkin’! Here’s a list of some places to go to get you and Fido started are your joint venture to health and wellness:

Big Lagoon Hiking Trails – Near Perdido Key in Pensacola and best known for (you guessed it!) its big lagoon. It offers great scenic views and a soft, sandy walking surface; great for canine exploring! Also, just across the way, is Perdido Key Discovery Trail at Johnson Beach, which takes you along a raised boardwalk trail leading to a breathtaking view of the Grand Lagoon. The half-mile hike is the perfect length for puppies, older dogs and young children.

Bayview Dog Beach – On Bayou Texar in Pensacola, allowing for one-acre of faux-beach access for your water-loving pet. This park also features some shady areas to cool down, benches, tables, water fountains and a much-needed washing station to preserve your clean seats from Fido’s dirty paws.

Chain of Lakes Trail – Located at Black River State Park in Milton the Chain of Lakes Trail offers some riverside fun and adventure for the entire family. The trail makes its way inland looping back around to one of the more beautiful sandbars on the river.

Shoreline South Bark Park – Located in the City of Gulf Breeze, this shady dog park, supported by the Gulf Breeze Dog Lover’s Association, offers a separate small dog area for our smaller canine companions to roam without fear of being trampled by the more Beethoven-esque among the pet world. After allowing your furry friend some leash-free play, take them along for some Trivia Trek family-fun on the trails.

Naval Live Oaks – Brackenridge Nature Trail is a short 0.3 mile loop along a boardwalk trail located in the Naval Live Oaks Park, a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore located in Gulf Breeze. The trail provides informational/descriptive signs posted along the path to offer insight into nature and ecological developments common to the area. There is also an observation platform overlooking Santa Rosa Sound to relax with your pal after a day of hiking.

Planning a dog-friendly escape? Find out which cities ranked in the “most” and “least” walkable categories in Care.com’s study…

Most walkable included…

San Francisco, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle, Wash.; Tampa, Fla.

and Washington, D.C.

Least walkable included…

Dallas, Texas; Milwaukee, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; Charlotte, N.C.

and Jacksonville, Fla.

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