Cover photo: Koda and Ophelia summit their first 14er. Photo courtesy of Caroline Safford.
READY FOR YOUR OWN ADVENTURES WITH Fido?
We’ve rounded up some of the top pet-friendly destinations in our region so you can hit the trails with your four-legged companion.
4 Paws Kingdom
As a dog-dedicated campground, 4 Paws Kingdom is a sweet pet retreat. Set in the foothills of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, 4 Paws has fenced-in dog parks that provide plenty of space for dogs to run off-leash, while the private swimming pond is a perfect place to cool off on hot summer days. Following playtime, canines clean up at the doggy bathhouse and grooming station.
The property offers a variety of cabins and RV sites that are all pet-friendly, and there are also a variety of themed events throughout the year, including Barktoberfest and Barkoween Weekend. Campers must be at least 18 years old to stay. All breeds are welcome.
Less than an hour from the campground, Chimney Rock State Park and Lake Lure offer easy day excursions, depending on whether your pup prefers the trail or the water. You can also drive into Asheville and stop at Wagbar. This reimagining of the dog park combines a 25,000-square-foot off-leash space with a bar serving food and drinks.
On the outskirts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Greenbrier Campground is an oasis on the Little Pigeon River. At this pet-friendly campground, which features a dog park and dedicated dog walking areas, canines can enjoy refreshing swims in the river, including a recommended dip at the Flint Rock swimming hole, or take them for a hike on one of the two dog-friendly trails in the national park. If you want a break from your pup, the campground offers dog walking services.
The campground has easy access to the national park, located just a half-mile away. Small leashed dogs can ride the chair with you at the Gatlinburg Sky Lift, which offers stunning panoramic views of the Smokies. Spend a day in downtown Gatlinburg, where you can stroll through the specialty Village Shops, like a stop at Bonediggity Barkery for tasty dog treats as well as toys and apparel.
This 44-acre campground in Fayetteville offers cabins as well as tent and RV camping, all of which are pet-friendly. Rifrafters is located near the New River Gorge National Park, which features an expansive 70,000 acres of land along the epic namesake waterway. Take in the jaw-dropping sights of the deepest river gorge east of the Mississippi and the impressive 3000-foot-long steel bridge that crosses over it. Pets are allowed on all trails in the national park, which has 100 miles of trails, including Endless Wall and Sandstone Falls. After a long day of exploring, grab a bite at the nearby Burrito Bar or Bridge Brew Works, both of which welcome pets in their outdoor dining spaces.
Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area
Connecting Caesars Head and Jones Gap state parks, Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area encompasses 13,000 acres of pristine wilderness as you take in the natural beauty of the mountains, waterfalls, and rivers of the South Carolina Upstate. For a rugged getaway, this area features several pet-friendly, hike-to campsites along the backcountry trails. Pets are welcome to explore most outdoor areas in these parks as long as they are well-behaved and on a leash.
Pack up your pup and head to the Caesars Head Overlook for an easy-to-access view of the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a 2,000-foot drop where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet the South Carolina Foothills. Your can also enjoy the excellent freshwater fishing at Jones Gap, where you can catch brook, rainbow, and brown trout.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Boone National Forest, the scenic Cumberland Falls State Resort Park allows pets at any of the 50 campsites in the park and, for an extra fee, furry companions can stay in one of the homey rooms at the DuPont Lodge. While visiting, check out the impressive Cumberland Falls, often called the “Niagara of the South,” which only requires a short walk to view. You might even be able to see a moonbow—a night-time rainbow—at the falls, which is one of the only places in the world that regularly offers this incredible sight.