Where to walk with your furry friends
What could be better than running free through a lovely natural setting with your doggy pal? But finding secluded spots that welcome dogs away from the hustle and bustle can be difficult in Eastern Massachusetts.
First-time author and Wellesley native Jenna Ringelheim and her pooches have done the legwork for dog lovers and put together a list of dog-friendly walks in "Best Hikes with Dogs: Boston and Beyond."
She includes details of 50 hikes, with descriptions of the hike, trail maps, directions and pictures to give you an idea of what you will see along the way. The book focuses on locales in Greater Boston, but Ringelheim also includes treks on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, the Berkshires, and Block Island in Rhode Island.
While doing work for her graduate degree in environmental planning and policy at Tufts University, Ringelheim spent about a year and a half exploring the parks and trail of Massachusetts with her dogs Cobi and Tasman, both Portuguese water dogs.
"I tried to find as many as possible off-leash hikes," Ringelheim said. "Moving back to the Boston area, having lived out West where a dog can basically roam anywhere, it was really important to find places to let my dog really run."
For each hike, Ringelheim includes information about the length and type of hike (flat or hilly), as well as information such as who owns the land. The book also includes helpful information about what you need to bring on hikes for your pooch, such as water and a bowl, and a doggie first aid kit.
She tried to include a variety of walks for a variety of dogs: shorter ones for older or smaller dogs, and longer ones for frisky dogs. Also, she looked for areas with dog-friendly features.
"Water is very important, for swimming and drinking, and shade. Dogs overheat much faster than humans do," Ringelheim said. "Also, I looked for nothing too rocky, and you don't want broken glass."
Ringelheim includes several routes near her hometown.
"Having grown up in the area I had some favorite spots from my childhood," Ringelheim said. "And there are a lot of places I found out about in the course of researching the book."
One spot in Wellesley she highlighted is the Centennial Reservation.
"It's a very small park, 80 acres, but it has nice views of the surrounding communities, and for dogs in Wellesley it is also an off-leash opportunity," Ringelheim said.
Among the walks detailed in the book are some located in Natick, Wellesley, Framingham, Weston, Sherborn, Concord and Lincoln.
"One that surprised me the most, which I wasn't even going to go to but was persuaded to go to, was Callahan State Park (in Framingham)," Ringelheim said.
Many state parks do not allow dogs to be off leash, she said, but when the land for the Callahan was given to the state the donor made a stipulation that dogs be allowed to roam free.
With a number of rivers running through the area, the MetroWest has some great opportunities for dogs who like to take a cool dip in the summer.
"The Trustees of Reservations has a lot of wonderful property along the Charles," Ringelheim said. "Now that it's clean it is a wonderful place to bring (a) dog for a swim."
Riverside walks in the book include Elm Bank Reservation in Natick, Mount Misery in Lincoln and Rocky Narrows in Medfield, she said.
Farther afield, Ringelheim found some great hikes in Western Massachusetts.
"The Berkshires are amazing for folks that like to hike further," Ringelheim said. "Mount Watatic, which is kind of in North Central Mass. was another one that really surprised me. It has beautiful sweeping views."
Before heading out into the woods with your dog, Ringelheim said you should prepare yourself and your dog. The book includes tips for how to get your dog ready and what you should bring along for the hike.
"You probably don't think about getting your dog in shape, but just like people have different levels of activeness, dogs have the same thing," Ringelheim said. "I don't think they appreciate being weekend warriors as much as people do."
Even with the book, Ringelheim suggests hikers check ahead before going to a park.
"The rules are always changing," she said. "Hiking with dogs has become (a) controversial thing. It's a complex thing, the interaction of hikers with dogs and hikers without (dogs)," she said. "Call ahead, dog regulations change rapidly."
Ringelheim will be at the REI in Framingham, 375 Cochituate Road, at 1 p.m. Saturday for a slide show followed by a question and answer session and a book signing.
She will also visit REI stores in Boston, Hingham and Reading. On Sunday, Aug. 24, she will lead a dog hike of Harvard Square hosted by the Globe Corner Bookstore. For information on the hike call Harriet Carrier at 617-649-5700, ext. 27, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Charlie Breitrose can be reached at 508-626-3964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.