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Beaches For Your Furry Best Friend

August 5, 2011 6:00 AM

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Fergus at Assateague National Seashore

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Over 40 percent of American families have at least one dog as a family member. More and more, owners want to take their beloved pets on the road and include them in recreational activities. Almost every dog likes to play with their family and many of those love the water. But not all of Maryland’s recreational areas are welcoming to furry friends. Here are some scenic, recreational waterways where your four-legged best friends are welcome. Most require the dogs be on a lead while on land and under voice control in the water. But all guarantee dog days of summer fun!

Fergus at Assateague National Seashore

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Assateague National Seashore

At the end of Route 611
Eight miles south of Ocean City, MD
Hours: Open year round, 24 hours a day
Price: Entrance fees: On foot or bicycle –free. Vehicle $3 per day or $15 for 7 days. Annual Pass
$30.
(410) 641 – 1441
http://www.nps.gov/asis/index.htm

Though it’s a full day’s drive from Baltimore, Assateague will never disappoint. Located near Ocean City, it should not to be confused with Assateague State Park (which is not dog friendly in the summer). The National Seashore has public beaches along the Atlantic that allow dogs on leads. These beaches are 200 – 300 yards past the lifeguarded beaches. The beach is strewn with families and their pooches. In the off-season (after Labor Day) dogs can retrieve off lead in
the water so long as they are under voice control.

Lab puppy

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Downs Park

8311 John Downs Loop
Pasadena, MD 21122
Hours: Wed to Mon – 7:00 am to dusk
Closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas
Closed August 22, 2011 and November 23, 2011 (Service Reduction Day)
Price: Daily Entry Fee – $6.00 per vehicle
(410) 222-6230
Reviews, Directions & More Info

This 236-acre park in Pasadena has a designated dog beach that is popular with locals. Dogs can run free on the sandy beach and romp in the water. Not only is Downs Park pet friendly, it’s pet welcoming. Although the beach is small, and a little smelly, the views of the Chesapeake Bay are fabulous. The socialization benefit for dogs (playing with other dogs) is an added benefit.

lab swimming

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Matapeake Park

1112 Romancoke Rd.
Stevensville, MD 21666
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Price: Free
(410) 758-4098
http://www.parksnrec.org/park-maps-a-descriptions.html

Just across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Stevensville are two dog parks. One is Matapeake Park and the other is Terrapin Nature Park. Matapeake has a public beach with a clubhouse, and a nearby trail that winds around to the dog park. The trail itself is a nice hike for the dog and is long enough that it’s adequately separated from the public areas. At this park a dog can run off leash, retrieve and sniff out the surroundings. The views of the Bay and the bridge are quite lovely.

Chesapeake Bay

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Terrapin Nature Park

191 Log Canoe Circle
Stevensville, MD 21666
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Price: Free
(410) 758-4098
http://www.parksnrec.org/park-maps-a-descriptions.html

This hidden gem of a park has unlikely access through an industrial area. The entrance is gained off Log Canoe Circle. The trail winds around the 270-acre nature park through woodlands, marsh, and tidal ponds. There’s a beach that runs along the shore of the Chesapeake that allows dogs. The views of the Bay are great and the surroundings tranquil. The beach isn’t huge, but Rover will love the romp.

Beach fun for dogs

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

North Point State Park

8700 North Point Road
Edgemere, MD 21219
Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset
Price: $3 per vehicle (MD)
(410) 477 – 0757
http://northpointstatepark.homestead.com/

A half hour drive from Baltimore City, North Point State Park in Edgemere is remembered as the place where a waterfront amusement park once stood. Off-season, from Labor Day to Memorial Day, dogs are allowed in the water access areas. During summer months there is water access open for dogs in the undeveloped areas. Ask for assistance at the Gatehouse or Visitor Center about the trails you can use to access those spots – they exist – but they’re not well marked. This is a wonderland park for dogs. Dogs must be on leashes but can retrieve in the water off leash provided they are under voice control.

Yellow Lab in the Marsh

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Janes Island State Park

26280 Alfred Lawson Drive
Crisfield, MD 21817
Hours: 8 a.m. to Sunset
Price: Free for Day Use
(410) 968-1565
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/eastern/janesisland.asp

A full day’s drive from Baltimore Janes Island is a woodland, waterfront park and campground with panoramic views of tidal marshlands in the Tangier Sound. The park has two areas that welcome dogs. A 1.25 mile water trail from the park’s dock leads to an island accessible only by boat (canoes and small power boats). This island has a seven mile sandy beach and grassland area where dogs are welcome to run off-leash. This is a retriever’s paradise. Some of the campsites at the park are pet friendly, so consider taking a weekend. There is also a local beach near the park that allows dogs to play and retrieve. Ask at the camp store for directions.

Playing at the beach

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Point Lookout State Park

11175 Point Lookout Road
Scotland, MD 20687
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Price: $3 per vehicle (MD)
$5 per person weekends and holidays May-September
(301) 872-5688
http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/southern/pointlookout.asp

This waterfront state park is a peninsula located where the mouth of the Potomac River meets the Chesapeake Bay. Popular for its water recreation, Point Lookout is also known for its ghosts and its history as housing a Civil War prison camp. Dogs are free to romp in the bay on the beach north of the causeway going on to the island (bay side) and also on the beach south of the causeway on the bay side. The beaches aren’t much, but the dogs won’t mind. After summer, dogs are welcome in all public areas.

Spaniel on Creek

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area

632 Wye Island Road
Queenstown, MD 21658
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Price: Free for day use
(410) 827-7577
Reviews, Directions & More Info

An incredibly scenic wildlife management area, Wye Island allows dogs on leashes. Hike the scenic Ferry Landing Trail through Osage orange trees on the south side of the island 1.1 miles. It leads out to a small beach where dogs are free to romp. Dogs are required to be on lead while on land and under voice control while in the water. Parking is only in designated areas.

Labs in the Marsh

Photo Credit: Mindie Burgoyne

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge

1730 Eastern Neck Road
Rock Hall, MD 21661
Hours: Daily 7:30 a.m. to sunset
Price: Free
(410) 639-7056

This 2285-acre island refuge is south of Rock Hall in Kent County and is known for its attractiveness to migrating and nesting waterfowl. There are nine miles of trails and road, and dogs are welcome but must be on leads while on land and under voice control while in the water. There is a sandy beach on the Chester River side of the island down Bogles Wharf Road.

Mindie Burgoyne is an author, travel writer and tour guide living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her blog The Travel Hag shares information on outdoor travel for women. She is the author of Haunted Eastern Shore; Ghostly Tales from East of the Chesapeake.

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