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Hiking in Northern California

One of the reasons I started Coop & You was because I realized how hard it was to take photos when handling our dogs. Before we got Fidus, I could at least hand off Cooper to my husband if I wanted to take a photo of the surrounding landscape or a shot of them together. Once Fidus the entered the picture, I couldn’t hand Cooper off as easily because Nicholas’ hands were full with him.

They’re fantastic dogs, but they both have reactivity issues we’re working on. Taking them hiking requires our full attention to make sure they’re comfortable and learning correct behaviors. Since we’re still getting used to the Northern California area, we try to scout out hikes on our own before determining if it’s one they can handle.

During Super Bowl Sunday this year (with the hope not many people would be out), we took the dogs hiking on a not-as-popular trail in Auburn, California (Greenwood and Gerle Loop). It was so worth it to miss the game. Cooper did amazing. We even came across a whole group of pre-teen boys (her biggest fear) and we were able to walk behind them for a bit without her barking.

Since the hike wasn’t too populated, I was able to snap a few quick photos of the gorgeous trek.

Not long after this hike, we explored a trail in Martinez, California — this time without the dogs since it was our first time trying it out.

The trail wrapped into the hills above the bay, providing lovely views of the ocean and lots of grazing cattle in the valley’s below. We went on the hike at the height of spring which meant ridiculously green hills and blooming flowers.

We can’t wait to explore more spots! Since these hikes, we’ve explored Bodega Bay twice, Davis, and the Sacramento Zoo, as well as Shady Cove, Oregon. Photos to come!

Hiking in Auburn

Nicholas and I were lucky to get a hike in before this week’s storm. Prior to all the rain, we enjoyed a nice, easy hike in Auburn on the Greenwood and Gerle Loop trail. The trail was particularly stunning thanks to it following along a creek and the South Fork American River.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of pine trees. I enjoy the mountains and the towering pines that call them home, but I’ve always been partial to oak trees and rolling hills.

Well, this hike had both which made it all the more exciting to me to walk through both terrains on the 2.5 mile trail — and yet the diversity!

The trail was up against a Bureau of Land Management area, so along the trail we saw campers and day-trip kayakers along with fly fisherman. On the trail itself were hiking couples, families, and dog and owner duos.

Perhaps the most intriguing sight on the trail was at the trailhead itself. Upon turning into the trail parking lot, we spotted a sign warning not to bring RVs or trailers into the parking lot. We didn’t think anything of it, until we turned the corner and found this sight awaiting us:

A mood

We once again left Cooper and Fidus at home to try out the trail for ourselves first: great news! It’s wide enough to have quick escape routes if Fidus reacts to a dog or Cooper reacts to a stranger or loud noise (they are a mess). We are going to take them out in a few weeks. Fingers crossed it goes well and their cute, happy faces cover a blog post in the near future celebrating their success.

Northern California Adventures

Since my husband, Nicholas, and I moved up to Sacramento in the middle of a pandemic, we’ve done little to explore Northern California besides exploring the outdoors. Here are a few of my favorite photos from a short jaunt up to Redding and a hike New Year’s weekend to Calcutta Falls in Auburn.

While in Redding for a couple of days earlier this fall, we explored Sundial Bridge and Burney Falls, both pictured above. Nicholas had a foot energy, so we didn’t do as much hiking as we would have liked, but we were glad to be able to walk around these two spots. We’d never been to Redding before, and I’m so glad we went in November and caught the end of its autumn colors.

We explored closer to home New Year’s weekend with a hike in Auburn. We left the dogs at home to scout the area ourselves first. Fidus would have loved it! The trail was full of dogs. One particularly happy malamute would run ahead of its owners, say hello to us, and then run back to check in.

The hike led to a small waterfall with a shallow pond at its base. It was a canine favorite. In our short time there, we saw several dogs charge past their owners straight into the pond. It was a perfect scene to witness as we rung in the new year.

Dog Friendly Southern California Trips

Planning a trip to the golden state with your best furry friend? Here are some dog-friendly things to do throughout San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, and more!

Hotels & Lodging

border collie looking out of tent on camping trip

Traveling with a dog can get tricky fast if you don’t know where you can stay. Luckily, California is a pretty pet-friendly state and there are actually many options! Most campgrounds accept pets, though you’ll want to double check each one as some have rules about pets being on trails around the site or some may not accept pets at all. Hip Camp is a great resource to find alternative camping sites to KOAs and government-run ones. Their website features an easy-to-use filter that lets you search by dog-friendly sites.

Many hotel chains now have dog-friendly locations like La Quinta, Best Western, Motel 6, and Red Roof Inn.

And there are plenty of unique properties around California that are pet friendly like The Dana on Mission Bay in San Diego, Arrowhead Pine Rose Cabins by Lake Arrowhead, Kimpton Shorebreak Resort in Huntington Beach, and more. You can also find pet-friendly options on Airbnb.


border collie at the beach

If you’re coming to SoCal for a vacation, chances are you’ll be visiting the beach. Not all beaches are dog-friendly and not all dog-friendly beaches allow dogs to be off leash. Here are some spots where you can enjoy the sun and surf with your pup. Visit each beach’s website for specific pet rules.

Los Angeles
Leo Carrillo State Park North Beach (on leash) – Malibu
Santa Monica Pier (on leash and only on the pier, not the beach)
Rosie’s Dog Beach – Long Beach

Orange County
Huntington Dog Beach – Huntington Beach
Newport Beach (on leash and time restrictions)
Corona del Mar State Beach (on leash and time restrictions) – Newport Beach
Main Beach Park (on leash and time/season restrictions) – Laguna Beach
Aliso Beach (on leash and time/season restrictions) – Laguna Beach

San Diego
North Beach (time/season restrictions) – Del Mar
Main Beach (time/season restrictions) – Del Mar
South Beach (on leash) – Del Mar
Pacific Beach (on leash and time restrictions)
Fiesta Island Off-Leash Dog Park – Mission Bay
Dog Beach – Ocean Beach
Coronado Dog Beach


Southern California is full of terrific spots for hiking and getting outdoors! Explore Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead for a taste of the mountains, head inland for desert experiences, or hike along the coast for grand beach views! Use AllTrails to find dog-friendly trails near where you’re staying.

Restaurants & Bars

California’s sunny climate means restaurant patios are utilized year-round which is great news for your furry friend! Many restaurants allow dogs on the patio like the appropriately named Lazy Dog restaurant chain. A quick Yelp search shows that there are hundreds of dog-friendly restaurants around Anaheim (home of Disneyland!) alone.

If you do happen to be in Orange County during your stay, here are some of our favorite dog-friendly places to grab a bite to eat/drink:

Golden Road Brewing – Anaheim
Cortina’s Orange – Orange
Snooze, an A.M. Eatery – Orange
Lamppost Pizza – Yorba Linda
Beachwood Brewing Taproom – Huntington Beach
Eureka! – Huntington Beach
Slater’s 50/50 – Huntington Beach
Crystal Cove Shake Shack – Newport Beach
Lemonade – Newport Beach
Hopdoddy Burger Bar – Tustin

It’s always a good idea to call and double check that dogs are allowed — even if Yelp says it’s okay!

Photo Shoot!

If you’d like to capture photos of you and your pet enjoying your SoCal vacation give us a shout! On-location photo shoots include one-hour of photography and you’ll receive the digital images from the shoot for $200. If you need to book more time, that can be arranged, too. We’d love to help you remember your vacation “fur”ever! Email for more details.

Bring Fido

To easily search for pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and activities in the city you’re staying in, use a tool like Bring Fido to find the best options for you and your pet! It’s our go-to.

Hiking With Dog Friendly SoCal

My husband and I, and our two dogs, just recently moved back home to sunny Southern California. While my husband and I have spent most of our lives here, our dogs have only known life in the Midwest. I cannot wait to get them out more on the beach, on the area’s many trails, and up into the mountains.

dogs smiling on hike
These dogs are living the California dream.

Before we moved, I began looking up dog-friendly things to do in the area which led me to find Dog Friendly SoCal on Instagram. The group shares dog-friendly hiking trails, camping spots, and SUP spots. I about passed out with joy upon reading the latter. These were my type of people.

Along with sharing, Dog Friendly SoCal also has a Meetup group that has planned hikes almost weekly! I reached out to them and asked if I could join them on a hike to get photos for Coop & You — and also to scout out how my own dogs would do on a hike. They invited me to join them on hike of Hellhole Canyon Preserve near Escondido that they themselves were trying out to see if it would be suitable for a Meetup event with a larger group of dogs.

woman and dog on hike overlooking mountains and a valley
These views made this challenging hike well worth it.

We met at 9 a.m. at Hellhole Canyon Preserve and then off we went with four pups in tow (well, more like leading) on the Paradise Mountain Loop trail.

The elevation gain on this hike and its steeper sections gave me a much needed reminder that my time in the less-mountainous Midwest has left me sorely out of shape when it comes to inclines. While I completed the eight-mile hike up and down steep, rocky terrain, there were a few moments in which I questioned my sanity at making this my first foray back into hiking in SoCal.

The hike also served as a reminder that my own dogs need better training before jumping into a more challenging hike like that. Both of our pups like to pull — one to get where he is going, the other out of fear and a desire to get back to the car. A dog pulling you too hard down the steeper sections could definitely result in injury.

dogs walking on hike
Tails up, onward to adventure!

Luckily, all of the dogs on our hike were amazing and hiking pros. True adventure dogs, happy to be out on the trail and spending the day with their favorite people.

The full loop took us about five hours to complete — a perfect way to tire out your dogs, and yourself. Though, I’m sure every dog on that trail was ready for another adventure as soon as they got home.

If you have dogs and enjoy getting out in nature, I highly recommend following Dog Friendly SoCal on Instagram for ideas, and if you’re looking for others to hike and adventure with, join their Meetup group! I cannot wait to take Coop and Fidus with us on a future hike they plan.