Coastal Islands of Doggin ‘America
It is the middle of summer. Outside is burning. Who doesn’t want to escape to a coastal island with the dog? Let’s do a quick overview of the coastal islands of the United States accessible to your dog only by passenger ferry or private boat:
Nantucket Island (Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts, Island Transportation: Vehicular)
When you disembark at Nantucket Sound, you are looking for a two to six mile walk to reach the island’s various ocean beaches. You can use paved bike trails if needed, but dogs are allowed on island shuttles. Much of the coast is in private hands, so access to the coast is a privilege when granted. http://nantucket.net/
Martha’s Vineyard (Atlantic Ocean, Massachusetts, Island Transportation: Vehicular)
Just off the south shore of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is an extremely dog-friendly tourist destination. For canine hikers, the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation has conserved more than 2,100 acres of land on the island in more than 100 separate parcels. From these protected lands, the Foundation has created eight sanctuaries open to the public, including dog walkers. The largest trail system is at the Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, where two miles of leg-friendly trails visit mountainous forests, secluded ponds, and a small sandy beach. http://www.mvol.com/
Block Island (Atlantic Ocean, Rhode Island, Island Transportation: Limited Vehicle)
Block Island offers some of the best deep-sea hikes with your dog anywhere in America – open meadows, protected forests, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches. However, you will most likely arrive on foot and you will have to walk in good ways to get to the best places. Although the island is saturated with walking trails, you will still have to take your dog along paved two-lane paths used by the locals. http://www.blockisland.com/
Ocracoke Island (Atlantic Ocean, North Carolina, Island Transportation: Vehicular)
After visiting the 70 miles of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, you might not feel the need to take the free ferry to Ocracoke Island, but you’d be depriving your dog of one of our best beaches for year-round lines. There is a large campground so you can stay for a while (although it is closed in the off-season) and a trail through a maritime forest across the road. Take your dog through the historic town on the southern tip of the island – Blackbeard used to hang out here.
Mackinac Island (Lake Huron, Michigan, Island Transportation – Foot & Bike Only)
At first glance, this popular tourist mecca would appear to be a horrible place to bring a dog, packed with crowds and literally thousands of bikes on the narrow streets. But no one comes to Mackinac Island to hike, so if you get half a mile from the pier, you can go for an hour to the three-mile by two-mile island in the forested highlands (which are 300 foot elevations) and never see anyone. The island’s unique location and elevation changes support a lovely mix of conifers from the North Woods and hardwoods from the south. http://www.mackinac.com/
Manitou Islands (Lake Michigan, Michigan, DOGS NOT ALLOWED)
Beaver Island (Lake Michigan, Michigan, island transportation: vehicular)
The largest island in Lake Michigan is home to a population of approximately 600 residents throughout the year. To better explore with your dog, it will be necessary to take the car on the Charlevoix ferry. Most of the southern portion of the 16-mile island is undeveloped state forest. Central Michigan University has swamps and forests in the interior of the island that includes nature trails. For dog owners with a private boat, Beaver Island is in the heart of a small archipelago of islands; the best to try is Garden Island.
Grand Island (Lake Superior, Michigan Island Transportation – Foot & Mountain Bike Only)
The largest island in the south of Lake Superior is just five minutes through the perpetual 48 degree waters. The ferry seats half a dozen people and dogs and only makes a handful of trips a day, so you can expect that walking your dog on wide dirt roads is a private matter. The island is a National Recreation Area, so the roads / hiking trails are well marked. Destinations include deserted sandy beaches and views of the coves of Lake Superior. At four miles long by two miles wide, a full day’s hiking will take your dog across the wooded island.
Isle Royale National Park (Lake Superior, Minnesota, DOGS NOT ALLOWED)
Catalina Island (Pacific Ocean, California, island transportation: limited vehicles, primarily bicycles and golf carts)
More than a million people a year cross the channel to rocky Catalina Island, about 22 miles off the southern California coast. It is a large island: 22 miles long and 8 miles wide at its widest point. The natural parts of the island are controlled by the Catalina Island Conservancy, which allows dogs on its extensive trail system. A free daily hiking permit is required before embarking on the network of old roads and cattle trails.
San Juan Islands (Strait of Juan De Fuca, Washington, island transportation: vehicular)
This group of islands straddles the border between the United States and Canada, the most popular being the island of San Juan. It is best to arrive with a car where you can go out to visit the many parks and preserves that will welcome your dog. Most have small scenic trail systems that require less than an hour. Many of the islands’ roads and trails are remnants of old sheep trails. Two of the must-see parks are Lime Kiln Point State Park, the only park in the world dedicated to whale watching (especially orcas) and San Juan Island National Historical Park. The trails at this dog friendly park feature dog gloves. For a superior beach, head to Grandma’s Cove at American Camp.