BEST DOG HIKES: NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
By: Linda B. Mullally and David S. Mullally, 2014
Pequot Press, 306 p., paperback
Best Dog Hikes: Northern California is a wonderful resource for resident and visiting dog-owners. The book, which details hikes from the Klamath to the South Coast, and from the North Coast to Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, provides a variety of options for those hoping to explore the outdoors with their canine companions.
Author Linda Mullally said she was inspired to write the book when she and her husband, co-author David Mullally, took on two Husky/Coyote mix dogs. “They changed my husband’s and my life,” she said. The dogs needed constant exercise, and while accommodating them, the Mullalys began thinking about putting together a guide for other owners of similarly energetic dogs.
Since then, the Mullallys have penned a guide to dog hikes in Central California, which Linda said flies off the shelf at the local Mammoth Lakes Visitors Center. It seemed only natural that the Mullallys would eventually turn their eye to the Sierra Nevada range.
Mullally described dog-friendly hikes as those with water on the trail, especially in warm weather, as well as varied but moderate terrain. “Dogs need something that’s not too harsh on their paws,” she said. “I’ve noticed people underestimate terrain, and they have to carry their dogs out from the backcountry on their shoulders.”
The guidebook also offers information on which hikes are open to dogs, as many public lands have restrictions and requirements for pets. The downside of owners not knowing the rules: “It always makes me cringe when I see a dog in a car because people found out they couldn’t bring it on the trail,” Mullally said.
Best Dog Hikes: Northern California devotes a substantial chapter to the Eastern Sierra, where the Mullallys have made a second home for 25 years. “We have a little Forest Service cabin in the Mammoth Lakes Basin,” Mullally said. “We started going to Mammoth because of our two special dogs.”
Those two dogs, Lobo and Shiloh, have since passed on to doggie heaven, but Mullally and her husband have a new dog to introduce to the backcountry. The couple inherited Gypsy, a Queensland/Chihuahua mix, from a friend who passed away (the Mullallys dedicated the book to both). Gypsy had never hiked; “He’d never been off-leash in eleven years,” she said. Now, “He’s so happy. He’s so taken with hiking.”
Given their experience with Gypsy, the Mullally’s guidebook includes useful tips on acclimating young or inexperienced dogs to hikes, including a sample training regimen and notes on body language and helpful accessories.
For human hikers, the guide offers a wealth of information on trails, including difficulty, ideal season for the hike, fees and permits, and nearest towns and amenities.
Linda said her favorite dog hike is Emerald Lake out of the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Close seconds are McLeod Lake, above Horseshoe Lake in the Lakes Basin, and Thousand Island Lake out of Agnew Meadow.
“I’ve hiked all over the world,” Mullally said. “When people ask what my favorite place is, I say, the Eastern Sierra.”
Linda and David Mullally will be signing copies of Best Dog Hikes: Northern California at The Booky Joint in Mammoth on Saturday, July 26, from 4-6 p.m.