10 Leave No Trace Tips for Dog Owners in the Adirondacks

Thursday, August 31, 2017
By: Mary Godnick - Adirondack Council Marketing and Fund Development Assistant

Earlier this year, I took on the new title as “Dog Mom” when I brought my rescue-mix, Sheba, home from the North Country SPCA. Sheba loves the outdoors. Even at her “experienced” age, she is up for a walk in the woods any day. For many people like myself, your dog is your adventure partner. They make getting outside so much more fun. Their enthusiasm is contagious. They inspire us to try new things, to do things we wouldn’t do alone and to meet new friends.

Whether your adventure partner is a human or a dog, it’s important to be mindful of the impact your pack is making along the way. Dogs help us make new memories, while we experience and enjoy the Adirondacks. But bringing them along adds four more paw prints that impact the land we come to enjoy.

We chatted with a few of our favorite ADK dogs and their owners about how they stay safe, and Leave No Trace when they head out for an adventure in the Adirondacks. Here are a few of their tips for a low-impact excursion in the Adirondacks with your dog!

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Ashley and her pup Bruin are regular visitors to the Lake George region in Washington County, NY. They love to hike, swim and kayak in the ‘Dacks. Ashley says, “There is no other place in the world like the Adirondacks and we are so beyond lucky to call it our home. It is beautiful and offers so many activities for people and dogs who love to adventure outdoors. Keeping the Adirondacks wild and helping to protect all of the beautiful things it has to offer is a priority when Bruin and I are out adventuring. “

Her tip: Bruin and I have spent long hours working to make sure we are on the same page. It has taken a lot of repetition and practice to be able to work together as well as we do. Bruin knows when we are adventuring in the Adirondacks he needs to come back to me when I ask him to. This is so that he doesn't bother other hikers, dogs or wildlife!

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Brendan and his side kick Khyber the black lab, not surprisingly, love to be out on the water in the Adirondacks. He says, “The Adirondack Park is one of the last vestiges of Wilderness in the Northeast. It is rare to have such a large protected area in the northern forest. Carrying on the legacy of those that had the forethought to protect this beautiful landscape is extremely important to me.”

His tip: Keep your dog off sensitive vegetation and environments. In the Adirondacks, one of the primary areas where a dog should be (and are legally required) leashed is above treeline. The arctic alpine environment found there is fragile and can be easily damaged by trampling. Keeping your dog on a leash and on solid rock surfaces will help protect this fragile ecosystem. Also, dispose of your dog's waste properly. Just like you should bury or carry out your poop, you should do the same with your dog.
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Rachel and her dog Baloo love everything about hiking in the ‘Dacks, and recently have gotten into Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP). Rachel says, “There's nothing I love more than watching Baloo meander along trails, waking up snuggled in our tent or take in mountain views with him beside me with that big bear smile on his face. The Adirondacks have provided Baloo and me an escape from the every day and have fed our desire for more adventures and experiences. That's why protecting the Adirondacks is important to me. Taking care of the Park will allow it to be enjoyed for years to come so other people will grow to love this special place like Baloo and I have.”

Her tip: Your dog can help with the carry-in carry-out aspect of the Park! Baloo wears his own pack with some of his water supply and treats of course. There have been a number of times when I've run out of room in my pack for trash and other garbage we've come across, so I put it in Baloo's pack! There's always room in his pack for a couple wrappers and even a flattened beer can.

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Kara and her dog Ziva love to hike, but also kayak with their three dachshund pals. Kara says, “I started camping in the Adirondacks when I was a young child, so you could say it became a second home.  As an adult, I was able to share this beautiful place with my children, and teach them to respect the land and the wildlife.  Every time we step into nature, we become stewards of the land with an obligation to protect it for the wildlife that lives there and for future generations to enjoy as well.  The Adirondacks are a special place to me and so many others, and I strive to do my part to keep this wild place pristine.”

Her tip: Always make sure the excursion is fun for your pup, but that you are respecting the Leave No Trace Principles. Ziva is much happier off leash, but there are times that she must be on-leash. The High Peaks require it, but there are times when leashing her is necessary to respect wildlife and other visitors.
 Uploaded Image: /vs-uploads/dog-blog/Evan and Lucy Williams.jpg

Evan and Hilary added to the Pure Adirondacks family this fall when they adopted their pup Lucy. It was a perfect match. She loves the outdoors as much as this inspiring Adk duo. In the past year, she has enjoyed everything from swimming and paddling in the summer, to cross country skiing in the winter. Hillary says, “Evan and I both grew up exploring and adventuring in the Adirondacks.  We have done quite a bit of traveling - both in the US and abroad - and even though we have seen amazing places, we always find ourselves longing for the Adirondacks.  They are home to us and we love sharing the place we are passionate about with others!”

Their tip: Take time to appreciate your surroundings.  When you actually take the time to become familiar with the sounds, smells, and sights of your environment, you feel connected to the places you explore and take ownership of them.  That feeling of connection translates directly into the desire to protect and minimize impact to those environments you love.

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Amber and her blue and brown eyed babe Ariel love to come to the Adirondacks to hike, followed by a swim in Chapel Pond. She says, “the Adirondacks are my home away from home. Mine and Ariel's 46er Journey has forever engrained the ADK in our hearts and it will always be a special place to us. It's my escape into the wilderness after a long work week to seek the quiet solitude of the mountains and be immersed in nature. The Adirondacks deserve to always be forever wild.

Her tip: Please be mindful of the wildlife. The wilderness is their home and we are just visitors. Don't leave trash or food out for them to get into and create bad habits. Dogs should also be trained to not chase or disturb wildlife for the wildlife's safety and theirs too!

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Former North Country resident, Bryce and her dogs, Tonto and Finn love hiking in the Adirondacks. She says, “The Adirondacks are such a special place full of natural resources that the public is able to enjoy – my love for the mountains started there and the park owns a piece of my heart! It is important we respect all that it has to offer and promote sustainable environmental practices so that these lands can be appreciated by future generations. Working together to keep the park “Forever Wild,” means working TOGETHER. We all need to do our part!”

Her tip: Why use a motorized boat if you don’t have to? Go green and bring or rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Rivers and lakes abound in the Adirondacks and there are plenty of places to get away from the crowds and enjoy a day on the water with your best friends. To minimize waste bring a reusable Hydro Flask or Nalgene and water filter and filter your drinking water as opposed to bringing plastic water bottles. (We are partial to our Nalgene, available online.)

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Kristen and her pup Jake live in Western NY and visit the Park every chance they can get. They love to hike, and summit naps and post-hike Stewart’s ice cream cones are an added bonus. Kristen says, “The Adirondacks are our home away from home and I couldn't imagine life without this beautiful and wild place Jake and I both love so much.  We have shared so many memories here with family, old friends and new that are priceless. It is a place of solitude and serenity.  A place to chase dreams and find courage.  Jake's love for these lakes, mountains and trails only makes them so much more important to me and makes protecting this wild land even more so.”

Her tip: First and foremost I would say do some research and prepare. Whether it be a short hike or a full day out on the trails you need to know what to expect for you and your dog. Carrying enough water and food for your pup is very important, especially if there isn't water along the trail.  

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Jay and his pup Jackson (Jacksons Journeys) love to make the short drive up to the Lake George and High Peaks region in the Adirondacks whenever they get a chance. He says, “Protecting the Adirondack Park is important to me because it is my love, my life, my passion. Jackson and I have had the great fortune to visit and explore much of this beautiful country whether it be National Parks, State Parks, Bureau of Land Management, from the top of a 14er in Colorado or from below sea level in Death Valley we have experienced so much but at the end of the day it is the Adirondacks that we choose and prefer to explore and enjoy; there is no place we'd rather be. With popularity at an all time high changes must be made to protect this precious place, I am by no means an expert in what needs to be done, but I believe if everyone does their part, abides by the rules, uses common sense, follows the principles under the Leave No Trace, and help educate others that are less experienced we will be making a step in the right direction. I hate to think of a day that my children or my grandchildren would not be able to enjoy the same beauty that Jackson and I have been privileged and accustomed to for the past 15 years.”

His Tip: Education is key in regards to lessening impact on the Adirondacks, while on trail with Jackson I strike up conversations with many people and at any opportunity I get I try to pass along a message of the need to respect the rules that are set in place to preserve this beautiful place for generations to come. Volunteering is also a great way to give back, not necessarily lessening the impact but helping to correct existing areas that have already been impacted, trail work to divert water, re-routing of trails to revegetate areas, building of outhouses, etc if everyone that was making use of the ADK park could make time to give some back we would all be better off, and there are plenty of organizations that would be happy to have the help!

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Originally from Pennsylvania, Lisa is a local photographer based out of Wilmington. Her dog pack, Gabe, Uma and Nita are regularly the star of her work. Lisa enjoys what each Adirondack season has to offer, and likes to hike, paddle and ski with her dogs. She says, “I live, work, and play in the Adirondacks. I love the Adirondacks and want to see it protected from overuse.”

Her Tip: “Do your research! Not all trails in the Adirondacks are appropriate for all dogs. Ladders and tough steep terrain are can be difficult and dangerous.” Dogs are not always allowed on every trail in the Adirondacks. Property owned by Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR), or Ausable Club, does not permit dogs.

Please be sure to check the rules for bringing pets along with the NYSDEC website or private land owner before heading out with your pup. Be courteous to other hikers and abide by leash laws & recommendations. According to the NYSDEC website's page on "State Land Camping and Hiking" you must:

"Keep your pet under control. Restrain it on a leash when others approach. Collect and bury droppings away from water, trails and camp sites. Keep your pet away from drinking water sources."

A huge thank you to everyone that helps keep our “Forever Wild” places beautiful. If you would like to learn more about issues facing the Adirondacks, be sure to sign up for our email Action Alerts.


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Uploaded Image: /uploads/images/MaryGodnick_small.jpg

Mary joined the Council in August 2016. As the Marketing and Fund Development Assistant, Mary works with the team to coordinate marketing and fundraising efforts. She develops, manages and implements strategic social media and marketing campaigns to grow the visibility of the Council's efforts. She also works with the Fund Development team in production of materials, mailings and reports to help expand our support to preserve the Park for future generations.

Mary grew up in Harford, NY and is a graduate of SUNY Oswego and earned a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Public Relations in May of 2014. Previously, she has worked in digital marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media management. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, blogging, yoga, and enjoying all that the Adirondack Park has to offer.


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