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  1. #1

    Default Difficult sections for a dog

    I bring my husky mix dog hiking with me quite a bit and I'm planning to bring her with me in a couple of years when I retire to hike the AT. I have some concerns about some sections of the AT. Can anyone relate how their dogs handled sections that were particularly difficult for a larger dog that you can't carry? A couple of sections that I'm concerned about are going up the Wildcats from Pinkham Notch, maybe coming down off of Moosilauke on the Beaver Brook Trail, or other trails with ladders. <br>She has hiked the Franconia Ridge and also Mount Eisenhower and Mount Adams in the Presidential Range on day hikes without any issues, as well as a few other peaks in the Whites. <br>Moohosic Notch is probably a section I would not bring her on.<br>Thanks for your input.<img src="https://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=48690&amp;stc=1" attachmentid="48690" alt="" id="vbattach_48690" class="previewthumb">
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  2. #2
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Harpers ferry wv.


    The smokey mountains will be a concern I presume?

  3. #3


    Speaking partially from experience( I hiked with my dog for about 1700 trail miles) and partially just from knowing the rules of the route....

    The rules for the Smokeys state: No dogs allowed. Im not going to get into service animals or breaking the rules. From Fontana Dam north to Davenport Gap, no dogs allowed.

    Beside from that, I think some dogs foot pads are made for "hiking", or working we will call it, while others just arent. My dogs pads were not made for walking, but we managed most of the time...

    The above being said, if your dog makes it for several hundred miles without issue, I would say I wouldn't really be concerned from a foot pad perspective until the norther 2/3rds of PA? And even that shouldnt be an issue if the dog has been problem free prior to that.

    Now the fun part.....Other then the rocks in PA, which in my opinion are not that bad, I wouldn't be concerned about the dogs capability until sometime in New Hampshire. Probably the north side of Mooselauke, or the Kinsmans. Why? The trail becomes steep and no longer looks like a trail. It has rebar ladders, slippery wood block stairs, wood ladders 20ft high. It can be done bc it has been done, but it is tough.
    Trail Miles: 4,334.8 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 167.0
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  4. #4


    A "couple of years" is a very long time for a dog if you are using its health today to predict what it will be then. The reality is while most people don't complete a thru hike, far fewer dogs do. An injured, sick, or otherwise incapacitated dog can be a serious problem on the trail, getting it stabilized, carrying it out of the woods, getting it home or to a place that can care for it, never mind the unpleasant reality that dogs do perish on the trail from a variety of things from heat stroke, infections, and injuries. The related costs of removal can be crippling and likely will end any thru hike plan for the owner. There are dog prohibitions in GSMNP where the dog will need to be kenneled or kept with a dog-sitter and transported to the point you would pick it up, along with BSP's prohibition requiring a local kennel or dog-sitter. There are ladders, steep rock passages and other obstacles that are not physically possible for the dog to navigate and it will need to be carried.

    That said, professional advice is probably the best avenue of information and a vet's opinion would probably be beneficial now and again a few months before your intended start date. That gives you a sound medical perspective if the dog has the capability to do the walk and what, if anything can be done for physical training and diet.

  5. #5


    Well, you already have some experience with the Whites. Climbing down in to and out of the notches are the trouble spots. There are also some difficult spots in the Mahoosucs and southern Maine which could give you trouble. But probably the most difficult section for a dog is PA through CT. Not the trail it's self but the heat, lack of accessible water and the consistently long days you'll want to do. This is very hard on dogs, especially large dogs.
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  6. #6


    Dayhiking the whites with a dog is far different that continuous hikes through the whites and certain sections of Western Maine. The rock get more continuous and more abrasive in the Whites and in Maine. Thru hiker dogs that have successfully made it to the whites have had to be carried down off the presidential ridge (some get in trouble and struggle back up Washington to get a ride down). The dog has to switch to a different gait of scrambling up and over rocks. This abrades the pads and that damage is cumulative day to day. I have encountered multiple thru hikers over the years in the Northern Presidentials and the Mahoosuc's with dogs leaving a blood trail. Its quite cruel as the dog does not want to move so the owner is literally dragging them along or carrying them if they are small enough. NH Fish and Game will not rescue a dog, getting someone to haul the dog down off the mountain will require rounding up a rescue team. Young dogs can be trained to use booties but they rarely work for older dogs as they will tear them off soon after they are put on. Dog owners with dogs trained for booties usually carry many spares.

    So my list of bad places would be from the top of Mt Pierce to Mt Madison with the northern presis the worst stretch. Then might as well write off the scramble up Wildcat from RT 16 and the stretch north of North Carter to RT 2 in Shelburne. The eastern half of the Mahoosucs from Mt Success to RT 26 is also not recommended. in general there are some nasty daily scrambles from RT 26 all the way to RT 17 in western Maine.

    The next major stretch to avoid is the Saddlebacks, including the Horn and to a lesser extent Saddleback JR (RT 4 to Orbeton Stream). Things get much better east of Orbeton Stream, its still steep but a lot less boney although the Barren Chairback range in the western half of the 100 MW has some rocky going. Since dogs are banned from Baxter (except legit service dogs) the Katahdin trails are a non issue (but would be real nasty for most dogs due to scrambling required).

    If a dog wears off a pad its several days of zeros and short days after that. FYI vets are rare in northern NH and Maine. If you do need to get to one it could be long expensive shuttle and a town day or two. More than a few thru hiker dogs have been picked up in Gorham after a very rough trip through the whites.

    Sure folks who have hiked the AT successfully with their dogs like to write about it , folks who were unsuccessful rarely do. I have seen a couple of folks in Gorham NH over the years parting company with their dogs and heard of few leaving the trail instead of going on without them. Either way its rough way to end a hike.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    But probably the most difficult section for a dog is PA through CT. Not the trail it's self but the heat, lack of accessible water and the consistently long days you'll want to do. This is very hard on dogs, especially large dogs.
    The heat and availability of water in that section of trail is definitely something I am concerned about, especially with a Husky.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    So my list of bad places would be from the top of Mt Pierce to Mt Madison with the northern presis the worst stretch.
    Coming down off of Mt. Madison on the Osgood Trail is also a place of concern. I hiked it a couple of years ago with a friend that brought his dog and he carried the dog much of the way from the summit of Madison to treeline. That's not something I can picture doing.

  9. #9


    I hiked over 1000 miles with a male Norwegian Elkhound. He never had trouble with the trail, but was distracted by wildlife a few times. He killed a fawn in PA, then got nailed by a porcupine in Vermont (I had to take him to a vet to get the needles removed). I would not hike with a dog again... too much trouble IMO.

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