Bailey just gets me. Sadie totally knows when I’m upset. Ginger can tell exactly what I’m thinking.
It’s common as kibble for dog owners to attribute human emotions to their canine companions, hence the existence of luxury pet items such as designer collars and dog massages.
But before you roll your eyes and grumble that it’s “just a dog,” numerous studies have acknowledged the presence of doggie emotions that go beyond bacon. They can detect human emotion, imitate behaviors and feel left out socially—that is, when they’re not too busy sniffing something.
This summer, reward your best friend with some quality time out and about. Sure, the backyard is fun, but there’s a whole wide world out there for your dog to enjoy. Since society hasn’t awarded dogs full citizenship yet, we’ve compiled this paw-friendly guide for the best outdoor dog spots on the Eastside.
Dogs love trails. Bellevue Club members love trails. These hiking trails are a match made in doggie heaven on a sunny afternoon.
Island Crest Way and S.E. 68th St., Mercer Island
Hiking? On Mercer Island? Before you laugh, bring your dog to Pioneer Park and check out the more than six miles of trails that wind through forests and wetlands—right in the center of a dense population of Island dwellers. Bring the leash.
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlands Preserve
Take Exit 13 off I-90, Issaquah Alps
Although both are equally accessible hikes, Cougar Mountain gets the nod for dogs over Tiger Mountain due to the lack of mountain bikes on trails.
With majestic Sitka spruce, western red cedar and Douglas fir, the park features 36 miles of on-leash, canine trails and a variety of habitats—great for an afternoon backcountry fix.
16833 N.E. 30th St., Bellevue
With prehistoric-looking trees and ferns, this heavily forested park has more in common with Tolkien’s Middle Earth than the nearby Microsoft campus. Enjoy identifying plants and birds while your dog stares at squirrels in this surprising 28-acre refuge.
Dogs love freedom. They want to chase squirrels, sniff plants and find the wettest, muddiest spot possible. Let ’em off the leash every once in a while at these sweet, non-neck chafing zones.
Take Exit 32 off I-90, Snoqualmie
No leash, no problem at Rattlesnake Lake off of I-90 in Snoqualmie. Bring your precious bundle of joy—and your human kids, if you must—to this beautiful wilderness locale for some swimming and hiking. Loop around the lake trail for a nice walk, but if you want to log some serious vertical with your mountain dog, try Rattlesnake Ledge trail.
Beaver Lake Dog Park
25101 S.E. 24th St., Sammamish
This one’s kind of a misnomer since the lake is not actually the focus here. With split-level water fountains (you and your dog can drink at the same time!), fenced small- and big-dog areas, dispensers, trash receptacles and a paved entryway, the off-leash dog park is the real attraction.
Marymoor Dog Park
6046 West Lake Sammamish Parkway N.E., Redmond
This park has pretty much gone to the dogs. Locally dubbed Doggie Disneyland by decidedly non-canine mammals, Marymoor has a total of 40 acres of off-leash area. In a cold, cruel world of leash laws, this place is the Promised Land for your pooch.
Robinswood Community Park
2430 148th Ave. S.E., Bellevue
Bellevue is thoroughly lacking in public off-leash dog areas. Although this place is no Marymoor, your dog can get a little afternoon stretch in the basic dog corrals, just as long as no horses show up. That’s right, horses have priority.
If wet-dog smell is your preferred perfume, these beaches will have your tail wagging all year.
Luther Burbank Park
2040 84th Ave. S.E., Mercer Island
Can you say off-leash? Your dog sure can at this soggy Mercer Island waterfront spot. Bring the rubber boots and watch your dog go for a swim while you enjoy the great views. Later, you can take a stroll through the rest of the park while Rover dries off.
1175 96th Ave. S.E., Bellevue
This hidden Lake Washington gem in West Bellevue features a protected sandy beach, picnic tables and gorgeous views. Like all Bellevue city beaches, your fur baby is actually prohibited here from June 15-Sept. 15, but hit up the early off-season for some sunny beach time with your best friend.
O. O. Denny Park
12400 Holmes Point Dr. N.E., Kirkland
O. O.? Your dog will be saying “oh, yes” as you romp through the rough trails and the shallow shoreline. Unfortunately, you’ll have to keep your dog on a long leash here due to park regulations, but it’s still worth a summer visit. With a motorized watercraft buffer, this park is quieter than most Lake Washington spots.
Magnuson Park at Sand Point
7400 Sand Point Way N.E., Seattle
OK. It’s not technically on the Eastside, but it’s just over the lake and fur wearers just think it’s fabulous. Dog-wash stations, off-leash areas, wet-dog water access—this is the stuff that dog dreams are made of. There’s even a small and shy dog area for your more petite friends. Make your dog’s day and cross the bridge for this one.