Pups in the Pine Barrens

Dog in the pine barrens

Is your dog your best friend?  Have you ever wanted to bring your dog along on a hike with you? Well, you might be happy to learn that several parks in the Long Island Pine Barrens are “Fido-Friendly.”

A walk in the woods is good for both you and your dog.  Bringing your dog on a walk can help mentally stimulate your dog, prevent obesity and other health issues, and can even help curb behavioral problems.

Staff Pup, Heidi, Exploring Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve.

Before bringing your dog along on your next nature outing, it’s important to keep some things in mind –

  1. Not all parks allow dogs. Always check signage (or a park’s website) to make sure dogs are allowed before entering the woods and respect the rules.  Dogs can signal the presence of a predator and can cause a disturbance to certain wildlife, disrupting feeding and nesting patterns.  If dogs are not allowed, there’s likely an important reason why.


  1. Always keep your dog on a leash. You might think your dog is super friendly and always listens to your commands well, but the purpose of the leash is to respect others that are out enjoying our parks.  Some people are afraid of dogs and it may ruin their experience to see an unleashed dog on the trail.  In addition, a leash helps keep your dog out of harm’s way and helps protect our wildlife.


  1. Always pick up after your dog and most importantly, dispose of the waste properly. There are usually garbage cans at most trailheads and in some parks, cans around the property.  If your dog makes a mess, pick it up (hopefully with a biodegradable poo bag) and carry it with you until you can properly dispose of it.  Dog waste can carry and spread harmful bacteria to others and can even pollute nearby waterbodies. We are seeing more and more people bag their dog’s waste and leave it on the trail.  This is completely disrespectful to others’ experience.  No one wants to stare at neon-colored bags along a trail.  Please remember to leave no trace.

Please don’t do this. Always pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste properly.

Now that we have the rules in order, let’s talk about some options on where to take your pup!  You can always download our handy “Dog-Friendly Parks” guide for quick reference.  However, here are some of our favorite Fido-Friendly parks:

  • Rocky Point State Pine Barrens Preserve, Rocky Point
  • Cathedral Pines County Park, Middle Island
  • Prosser Pines Nature Preserve, Middle Island
  • Southaven County Park, Yaphank
  • Manorville Hills County Park, Manorville
  • Cranberry Bog Nature Preserve, Riverhead
  • Indian Island County Park, Riverhead (technically not Pine Barrens, but close!)

Enjoy the Long Island Pine Barrens with your pup, safely and respectfully! Share your hiking adventure photos with us by using the hashtag #PineBarrensPups.

By: Katie Muether Brown, Long Island Pine Barrens Society