There are two things in life that we know make you feel good!
One is hiking, obviously!
The second is our dogs!
You’ll often hear us talking about the benefits of hiking because we experience it all the time and want to share those good vibes with others. Aside from exercise, hiking literally (as in scientifically proven) reduces stress. We get an endorphin boost from hiking hills, a dopamine boost from overcoming a challenge and serotonin boost just by basking in nature.
Spending time patting and playing with our dogs increases our oxytocin levels (and theirs!) – oxytocin is also known as the love hormone! And who doesn’t get a laugh out of their dog’s goofy playfulness?!
All of these wonderful hormone releases heal our bodies, reduce pain, make us more present and help us sleep better.
So why wouldn’t you want to spend time out on the trail with your four-legged BFF?
DO’s and DON’Ts of Hiking With Dogs in Perth
There are a few things you need to know before you and Fido hit the trails. These do’s and don’ts will keep not only you and your dog safe but also the local wildlife.
Dog Friendly Trails
Choose trails that have been approved for dogs. We don’t want you or your dog to get into trouble!
There are many dog friendly trails around Perth and we’ve listed our favourites, plus more, below.
Keep your dog on a leash
Even if your dog is friendly with other walkers and dogs, it’s best to keep them on the lead at all times. Being off lead can get your pooch into some serious trouble including snake bites, attacks by kangaroos, bites from bobtails (the suckers don’t let go!) and most importantly, baits laid out by conservation management.
Keeping Fido on a lead also protects the trail path itself from accidentally being widened and encroaching on wildlife habitats. Fido can also track the soil borne bacteria, dieback, into uncontaminated areas and unintentionally kill more trees – let’s do our best to preserve our amazing bushland!
Pick up poop
As hikers we all do our bit to keep our landscapes free of rubbish. We “leave no trace” and even pack out our own used toilet paper, so why wouldn’t we do the same for our dogs?!
You may think your dog’s poop will decompose and not affect the environment. But unfortunately your pooch’s poop brings with it microbes and bacteria not naturally found in the micro environments around our trails and can easily affect/infect the natural microbiome of the area.
Oh and by the way bobtails will eat dog poop! Urrgh!
As responsible owners we have to pick up poop when we walk our dogs at the park or the beach anyway. Trails are just as important, if not more! So pack it out and leave no trace!
Watch for snakes and baits
Having your dog on a lead also stops it from wandering off the trails where they might encounter a snake or 1080 baits.
The Western Shield program uses baiting to reduce fox and feral cat numbers in conservation areas. They lay out dried meat sausage baits containing the poison 1080 which is very attractive and very deadly to dogs. So be aware if you see a 1080 warning sign.
Snakes are a risk any time you walk in the Australian bush, especially during the warmer months. Sticking to the trail path helps you keep an eye out for snakes and with your dog on lead you’re in a better position to keep it well away from the bitey end.
If your dog does get bitten it’s often around the mouth, head, front legs and chest. Keep your dog quiet and calm and get it to a vet as soon as possible. If the vet is some distance away, apply a pressure bandage to the wound site if it’s accessible.
Water for both of you
Water is an essential part of any hikers kit, no matter how short our hike may be. If water is essential for us, it’s essential for your dog! If your pooch can’t stop panting it can be a sign that he’s too hot and very thirsty.
Grab a bladder for you and a big water bottle for your furry friend. You can find collapsible water bowls that don’t take up much room in your pack.
Don’t go into National Parks
National Parks are a big NO NO!
While we know national parks have some absolutely amazing trails, we just can’t take our dogs on them.
But there are some good reasons!
- The sight, sounds and smells of dogs can cause native animals a lot of stress, possibly scaring them away from homes leaving their young unprotected.
- 1080 baits are often laid to control foxes and feral cats.
- It is an offence to bring an animal onto Departmental (CALM) land and they have big fines ($2000).
Where You Can Take Your Dog
Regional parks are part of the urban landscape, keeping the bush in the city. Perth’s regional park system spans from Joondalup in the north to Port Kennedy in the south and inland to the Darling Range.
You’ll often find gates and signs on the side of the road signifying a trail on Regional Park land. Most Regional Parks are dog friendly and you’ll find the trails are normally short and easy.
We’d still recommend keeping Fido on a leash, if only to prevent kangaroo attacks (if Fido decides to give chase), snake bites and 1080 baits.
State forests are government owned land used for timber harvesting estates, water catchment protection areas, and public recreation areas.
WA was the first state to stop logging old growth forests which means a lot of State Forests have been converted into Conservation Reserves or National Parks.
While it’s ok to take your furry friend to a State Park, just be sure it still is! If it’s been changed to a National Park – well, just remember those hefty fines!
But let’s take all the do’s and don’ts out of the equation and show you our fave doggy trails where you can take Fido with no worries at all.
OTBTs Favourite Doggy Trails
Fave #1 – Whistlepipe Gully
Located in Mundy Regional Park in the Perth Hills, the Whistlepipe Gully Trail is a stunning 3.5km hiking trail that commences at the end of Lewis Rd in Forrestfield. There is only a small car park here and in Winter and Spring the trail is very popular so unless you’re early, expect to be parking a couple of hundred metres down the street.
The scenery on this hike is very pretty with the banks of the gully lined with lush green foliage, paper-bark trees and a variety of wildflowers. Whilst enjoying the sound of the water cascading downstream you will come across a granite outcrop and the ruins of an old house built right on the edge of the gully. These ruins are quite intriguing and definitely make this short family friendly & dog friendly trail very unique!
Fave #2 – Jarrahdale Railway Heritage Trail
The 1872 Heritage Railway Trails is 10km return trail starting from Information Bay on the corner of Nettleton and Jarrahdale Roads. The trail features old railway sleepers, historic trail markers, vistas and picnic spots. There are lovely views through the valley as it follows the creek. And of course, it’s dog friendly.
Fave #3 – Sixty Foot Falls
This 2.1Km loop trail is perfect for the beginner hikers and it’s also dog friendly. The trail is short but steep to the top of Sixty Foot Falls. On a clear day you will be blessed with views of the Perth city skyline in the distance. A short walk through the bushland will lead you to the Old Barrington Quarry, huge granite cliffs surround a manmade lake and despite a bit of graffiti it is quite picturesque! The start point is on Rushton Rd, in Ellis Brook Valley.
Fave #4 – Point Peron Coastal Trail
The Point Peron Loop Trail can be accessed from the carpark at the end of Point Peron Road in Rockingham. It’s a 2.5km loop trail with some beautiful coves and look-out points to explore, as well as the ruins of WWII batteries and bunkers originally built to defend the coastline and Garden Island. Family and dog friendly.
Other Dog Friendly Trails
There are 5 walking trails you can explore here to get your dose of waterfalls and cascades varying from 640m to 3kms, with the Valley Loop Trail being the longest. Setting off from Falls Rd car park there is a fantastic trail information board which provides a map and list of the trails, with duration and level of difficulty. Dogs are welcome on all of them.
Bells Rapids, Brigadoon
Bells Rapids is a great beginner trail and is both family friendly and dog friendly! This hike provides spectacular scenery with views over the Darling Scarp, Swan Coastal Plain and into Walyunga National Park. In Winter the lush green grassy riverbanks and rocky rapids are a superb spot to stop for a picnic to take it all in.
This 4.5Km loop trail commences at the end of Cathedral Ave and is made by linking the 1.5Km Riverwalk Trail & 3Km Goat Trail. The official start point is just after you cross the bridge over the Swan River which is the perfect place to stop and admire the fierce waters churning during the Winter months. From here you can turn left for the gentle Riverwalk Trail or head right to tackle the steep but rewarding Goat Trail (which we highly recommend).
Noble Falls, Gidgegannup
This 3.6 kilometre walk along the Wooroloo Brook is pretty all year round. The wildflowers are in bloom in the spring and the waterfall is stunning in winter. The walk adjoins a reserve, which is home to many birds and other wildlife.
The trail starts from the Noble Falls Tavern on Toodyay Road and follows along Wooroloo Brook past some stunning waterfalls. Noble Falls trail is dog friendly and there are also picnic facilities, public toilets and car parking available.
Kwinana Loop Trail
A winding 21km loop trail, the Kwinana Loop Trail makes its way around the outskirts of Kwinana with amazing views of Cockburn Sound. There are a few hills if you and your fur friend need some challenging exercise. Don’t miss the Chalk Lookout that has almost a 360-degree view of the Kwinana Industrial Strip, the city, and lush surrounding bushland.
The Loop Trail has numerous entry points throughout Kwinana, making it easily accessible for all who visit. There are several walk/cycle access trailheads along the trail and Car Parking is available at Thomas Oval, Sloan’s Reserve, WellaRoad Park, Kwinana Train Station and Sandringham Park.
The hills and twists of the Loop Trail make it perfect for mountain bike riding so be sure you keep your dog on a lead in case of overtaking bikers.
Lake Gwelup Walk Trail
The Lake Gwelup Walk Trail begins at the Lake Gwelup Regional Open Space on Lagonda Drive and then leads through bushland.
The 2.5km off-lead, dog-friendly walk trail is shared with cyclists and other walkers, so be sure to give them plenty of distance if they need to pass you and your dog. The water in the lake can be hazardous, so make sure your dog doesn’t ingest any on your loop.
Spectacles Aboriginal Heritage Trail, Kwinana
The Spectacles have great opportunities for bird watching. Interpretive signs explain the story of traditional life as told by a Nyoongar elder and there is a bird hide located in the wetlands.
The 4.7km long Aboriginal Heratige Trail is a loop trail that circuits a wetland lake.
The Biara Boardwalk Trail leads from the McLaughlain Road car park (on the eastern side of the lake system) to the Biara Bird Hide and then to a 130m boardwalk that leads into the centre of a shady paperbark forest.
Dogs on leads are welcome but care needs to be taken to watch for snakes which are occasionally seen on the path.
Most of these are short hikes that can be done in a morning or afternoon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be packing essentials, even for the trails closer to the city.
Grab your small backpack to store water, sunscreen, snake bite kit – and don’t forget the doggy water bowl and treats.
Happy furry hiking 🙂