Get out, get tired, get friendly, have fun!
© Stacy Braslau-Schneck, CPDT
Intro and Warnings
Exercise and Socialization are critical for a happy, healthy, and well-behaved dog – almost all of the behavior problems I see as a dog trainer are improved at least in part through more exercise and in some cases, the chance to meet and interact with more dogs and people.
But dog parks are NOT for every dog. Asocial dogs might not want attention from other dogs (though they might enjoy sniffing the perimeter of the park). Dogs who get over-aroused or aggressive should not go. Many adult and older dogs do not seem to appreciate the “young bar scene” that is most dog parks. And this is important: the dog park is not a place to start socialization or do remedial socialization; if your dog has poor social skills, the free-for-all of a public park is not the place to work on it. (Instead, contact a good-quality doggy daycare, or a dog trainer who can help you supervise a smaller playgroup with hand-picked socially-skilled playmates.)
With all of that in mind, below is a list of official off-leash dog parks in the Silicon Valley area.
Keep in mind a few important basic things: Be a good dog-owning citizen wherever you go. Carry bags to clean up after your dog (“a bag, a spare, and one to share” is a motto every dog-walker should live by!) and always pick up any dog “messes” you find – even if it’s not yours. Yes, it’s perfect dog-park manners to point out to another owner that their dog is leaving a pile.
If you’re not sure the place you’re visiting has water, bring a water bottle and something for your dog to drink out of. If the park provides a bowl, do not fill it all the way – chances are good it will get dirtied when someone drops a toy or paw into it, and it will have to be emptied. Carry a leash with you, even if your destination allows dogs to be off-leash – you have to get there, first, and you never know when you might need to gain more control of your dog. Be considerate of neighbors and do not allow your dog to bark too much during early or late hours.
Important: Have some understanding of dog behavior and body language. Learn to recognize the difference between loud and rowdy play, and a fight. Recognize that the best and healthiest dog-play is between two individuals; “three’s a crowd”. Understand that not all dogs want to play and not all dogs are friendly. (Dogs who do not want to be bothered have every right to tell overzealous dogs off, as long as they don’t injure them. See Suzanne Clothier’s excellent article, “He just wants to say ‘Hi’” and Sophia Yin’s Dog Park Etiquette for more information.)
Do not allow bullying to take place in the park. If your dog is bullying another dog, redirect your dog’s attention, or take your dog out of the park. If you feel your dog is being picked on, politely ask the other owner to control their dog, or leave. Your dog’s well-being is more important than your “right” to use the dog park! (As Trish King wrote, “Imagine a [human] playground in which 3-year-olds and 12-year-olds play together with little or no adult supervision. Think about the bullying, ganging up on, and general out-of-control stuff that would take place. It would be reminiscent of Lord of the Flies“!) Give your dog a time-out if he or she seems to be getting overwhelmed or overexcited. Do not bring an unspayed female who is within two weeks of being in heat to a dog park, ever. Do not bring sick (contagious) dogs to the park. If you bring treats to the park, don’t be surprised if every dog there jumps on you. Don’t give treats to other dogs without asking their owners; they may be allergic. Don’t reward other dogs for being pushy, begging, jumping on you, or barking (either with treats, pets, attention, or toy-playing)!
Remember that there are some risks in going to a dog park. Your dog could get injured or sick. Your dog could injure someone else. Your dog’s favorite toy can be destroyed. You, your dog, your clothes, your child and any delicate person can be knocked down, dirtied, bit, stepped on, etc. For another perspective on dog parks and their effects, see Trish King’s excellent article. Another excellent article on recognizing and controlling bullying behavior by Pat Miller is in the Whole Dog Journal. A few articles on Dog Park Etiquette, the Pros and Cons of Dog Parks, and What Makes a Good Dog park are on the APDT site. Even more information is available in the book, “Visiting the Dog Park: Having Fun, Staying Safe” by Cheryl Smith.
The best time to visit dog parks is during off-peak hours, when the number of users will be fewer and it will be easier to recognize and anticipate trouble situations.
REMEMBER: You are always responsible for your dog, especially in a dog park. It is not a place where you can “drop Fido off” and then tune out. Be prepared to intervene, supervise, and modify the behavior the dogs engage in. Watch your dog, pick up poop, and leave if it gets too crowded or unruly.
With all of that in mind, here are some of the off-leash dog parks in the San Jose area. These are the official dog parks – but remember that you’ll often find a group of dog-owners converging on your local neighborhood park or high school football field, too. Just remember to be responsible for your dog wherever you go!
Looking for an alternative form of exercise? Try a Dog-Powered Scooter!
- For San Francisco, call 415 273-5715, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.sfdog.org or www.fortfunston.com for further information. Sign a petition to create permanent off-leash areas in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area here.
- For the East Bay, sign the petition to keep Pt. Isabel as an off-leash area, and help Oyster Bay Dogs keep Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline dog-friendly.
- For San Jose, contact Steve Roemer, San Jose Parks Manager, to let him know you support more and better dog parks at (408) 794-1359. Sign a petition for a dog park in the Rose Garden area here.
- For Campbell, contact Lisa Petersen, senior engineer for Campbell at 408 866-2190 or visit www.cityofcampbell.com (check under “What’s New”).
- For Milpitas, join the Milpitas Dog Park group at yahoo.com.
- For Santa Clara County, contact Jane Mark of County Parks at (408) 355-2237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For Santa Cruz, save the Lighthouse Field (see Laura’s site, also).
- For San Mateo County, sign this on-line petition.
Dog parks in Silicon Valley and the peninsula
For updates on south bay parks, see http://southbaydogparks.org
San Jose and surrounding cities
This is our area’s first (so far only) membership-based dog park. Located at the Humane Society’s Animal Community Center at 901 Ames Avenue in Milpitas. The park is open 7 days/week, 365 days/ year, weather permitting (the park will close if temperatures rise above 95 degrees or fall below 30 degrees. Other conditions for closure may be for severe weather or maintenance to repair safety issues.). Hours are Monday – Friday 1:00 p.m. to Dusk and Saturday & Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Features separate sections for small and big dogs. For a monthly fee, members receive an ID tag, park access card, and member discounts to other HSSV services. Volunteer supervisors called “lifeguards” may be trained in dog behavior and first aid and will be on duty to watch over the playing dogs.
At the corner of Delmas and Park Avenues, north of San Carlos and east of Hwy 87. Tanbark covers the ground of this long, narrow park – perfect for throwing tennis balls. There is water for humans and dogs, a picnic table, and a few benches. No shade in the winter but possibly shady when the leaves return to the trees. Nice low hill along the side makes for varied terrain. No bulletin board, but the standard double gate and bag dispensers. Watch for light rail trains as you cross the street!
On Ryland street under Coleman Ave., east of 87. Gravel ground and double gate. Since it is under an overpass, it has shade and some protection from rain.
Tiny dog park in the heart (or Hart) of downtown San Jose. No separate areas for small vs. big dogs.
“Pocket” park, indeed. This tiny park in, essentially, an alleyway has nice artificial turf and separate (small) areas for big and small dogs. For more information and some photos, see sjdowntown.com.
Creighton Dog Park
New dog park near Hwy 880 and Landess, at 915 Big Bear Ct, Milpitas. Very small dog run separated into small and large dog sections, in a small neighborhood park.
Two-acre park with separate areas for large dogs and small dogs. Both sides have benches and water for humans and dogs. There’s a bulletin board at the entrance and “no dogs” area (for small children?) there as well. Park is closed on Thursdays. Take Hwy 680 to Calaveras Rd east and follow signs to Ed Levin County Park. The dog park is near the hang-glider area (follow signs for that area). Park fee is standard County Parks ($5 or yearly pass). See the South Bay Dog Parks website for more info and directions.
Park hours are from 7:00 a.m. to sunset, seven days a week. This park is at Jackson and 22nd St, just off of Hwy 101 and Taylor. This is San Jose city’s largest park, and it is divided into sections for larger and smaller dogs. There are benches, trash cans, a picnic table, and a doggy water fountain. There is a shady tree in the large dog section only. There are no human toilets or water fountains in the dog park but they are not too far away in the main part of the park. There are scoopers and bags provided. Enter via Jackson St (just past 22nd). Go past basketball and soccer fields. The dog park is the last parking lot, on the right. For questions or comments about the maintenance at Watson Park, please contact Mike Will, Acting Parks Manager at (408) 277-2734. See the official Watson Park page for more information.
This park is at the north end of Miyuki Drive, near Santa Theresa, in south San Jose (just south of Hwy. 85). This is a pretty small dog park that is fully enclosed, with a double gate. It has some small trees, a bench, and doggy bags. Take Hwy. 85 to Cottle Rd, turn left on Santa Teresa, then left again on Miyuki. Drive to the end of this short street, and the park will be in front of you. See the “temporary” Miyuki Dog Park page by Dave and the City’s official Miyuki Dog Park page. Note that Raleigh and Miyuki parks are directly across the freeway from each other!
This is the largest and arguably the nicest dog park in our area, with trees and grass. There’s a water spigot, benches, picnic tables, a bulletin board, garbage cans and doggy bags (most of the time), with human bathrooms nearby at the picnic grounds. Watch out for foxtails. Park is closed all day Wednesday for cleaning. Take Hwy. 101 and to Hellyer Ave., and go west to the park entrance. There is a $5 car entrance fee. Alternatively, from Hwy. 101, exit on Yerba Buena Ave. west, turn left on McLaughlin Ave. and follow it until it become Tuers Rd. Park just off of Tuers Rd and walk a half-mile trail to the dog-enclosure. Visit the official Santa Clara County Park Coyote Hellyer Dog Park page, or the Dog Enclosure Page for more information.
In Jeffrey Fontana Park (formerly known as Golden Oak Park), at the corner of Golden Oak Way and Castello Dr., near McAbee Rd. Park is closed on Tuesdays and alternate Fridays. The park has two sections, one smaller section would be perfect for smaller or more mellow dogs but it is not marked as such. The park is nice grass and tanbark, with shady oaks, benches, water, trash cans, and scoopers provided.
At 1250 Dell Avenue, Along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, near San Thomas Expressway. Pay $5 (or use County Park yearly pass) to enter parking lot from Dell, near Hacienda (off of Winchester), or park on Dell and walk in for free. Park has small and large dog sections, artificial grass, tanbark, climbing rocks, jumping logs, water, poop bags, benches, shade canopy, and message board. Open 8 AM to sunset; closed on Mondays for maintenance.<
“There are double-gate entrances at both ends (though the north end is half a block from Lassen Ave.), and it includes doggy bags, trash cans, a picnic table, two chairs, and watering stations at both ends (one inside, one outside)” (from Greg Roelofs). Update: The Saratoga Dog Park (between Lassen and Graves off of Lawrence Expressway) now has amazing artificial turf which is extremely tough and very easy on dogs paws. (Thanks, Elaine!) Update May 2023: Closed for renovation – looks like they’re putting in new turf, and a nice big shade cloth!
Located on Camden Avenue, at Lancaster Drive in San Jose, in the northwest corner of the 10-acre Roy M. Butcher Park. Includes a double-gated entry (closest to Camden), separate large and small dog areas, decomposed granite and artificial turf, benches, a community bulletin board and a small shed for staff and volunteers to store supplies. The facility is designed to accommodate between 30-50 dogs at one time. The nearby playground is great for the kids while the family dog plays (an adult to supervise each, please!)
The park is on Auzerais Ave at Wright Place. Artificial turf. Separate sections for small and big dogs, water bowls, and nearby children playground and bathrooms. It’s along the Los Gatos Creek Trail, but parts of the trail in that area can be “sketchy”. Recently more shade structures have been added for the human bench areas.
Located at Williams Street and Brookwood Drive. 3/4 of an acre park; 2/3 of that for large dogs, 1/3 small, 5′ high fence, ground is a combo of wood chips and decompressed granite. There is a bulletin board, garbage cans, plastic bags, drinking fountains for dogs and people (separate ones) 10 parking spaces, security lighting though it will be closed 1 hr after sunset, few tress, benches and tables.
At Raleigh Road and Charlotte Commons (near Cottle and Poughkeepsie). Thanks to Wendy Sprague for the tip!”Raleigh Linear Dog Park is located in Raleigh Linear Park (a 5.4 acre park) at the end of Raleigh Road south west of Charlotte Road. The fenced dog park has dissolved granite and artificial turf surfaces, includes a 4 seat table and 2 benches. As this park was a turnkey development project the park was “built out” per the turnkey park development requirements and no further development is planned for. There is one double swing gate at the facility; however, one side is typically locked and opened only for maintenance use.” Note that Raleigh and Miyuki parks are directly across the freeway from each other!
Lincoln High School Community Field
At Hester and Dana St., San Jose – Rose Garden area. The Lincoln Hound Society‘s efforts really paid off! Want to walk your favorite pal in the LHS area again? A full acre of fenced grass awaits you and your companion. Welcome to The Lincoln Community Field. The Community Field is accessible by the gate located to the left of the football-track field gate along the tennis court walkway (golf-cage side). Always make sure the gate is kept closed (not locked) at all times. Doggy pickup bag dispensers and deposit cans have been installed for your convenience to keep the area clean. Please use them! The usual agreed-upon field-use Society rules APPLY! Please read and comply with the conditions to make sure this field remains open to our friends and members. Not a member? Please join us to continue our efforts to provide spaces for our friends. Please contact email@example.com for information and details.
Foothill Presbyterian Church Off Leash Dog Area
At 5301 McKee Road, San Jose – East San Jose foothills. “We welcome our neighbors and their dogs to run off leash in our back field. All dogs are required to be licensed and vaccinated. A release of liability form must be signed and turned into the church office.” Fenced in dog park. Information and liability form available at foothillpc.org.
Fenced-in dog park with artificial turf and low fences. Nice park with interesting rocks and grassy area next door. At 10th St @ E. Mission St. San Jose
Welch Dog Park
At Clarice Dr. & Huran Dr., San Jose. Welch Dog Park’s pet-friendly amenities include a double-gated entry, separate large and small dog areas, pet drinking fountain, and benches.
NEW – Tully Dog Park (opening May 2022)
Tully Community Ballfields, 880 Tully Rd, San Jose. The Tully Dog Park will be located between the Tully Ballfields and Coyote Creek, which will take up around a half an acre of space. “The park is set to be finished early May and will include a section for large and small dogs to enjoy the park safely.”
Penitencia Creek Percolation Ponds. Unconfirmed: unofficial off-leash running and swimming on undeveloped land owned by San Jose Water District. Open to recreation, including several ponds that dogs can swim in. There is a fence around the area but no gate, just an opening. Located on Noble Ave. east of Piedmont, across from Noble Park in San Jose. From Hwy 680 take Berryessa Road east approx. 2 miles to Piedmont. Turn right (south) on Piedmont to Noble (1st traffic light). Turn left (east) and drive approx. 1/3 of a mile. The ponds are on the right (south) side of the street. If you go there (or anywhere!), CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG! One recent visitor wrote that it is “one of the few places that dogs have been able to practice retrieving in water, and they are leaving a bad calling card”!
Camden Percolation Ponds.
Unofficial(?) off-leash swimming place in San Jose, at Hwy 85 and Camden. They have birds and dogs, lots of water and big areas for them to run in, too! From 85 S, take the Camden exit and go towards Los Gatos. Just after crossing Blossom Hill there’s a school on your left and a short left turn lane (no light). Turn left there and you’ll see an electric substation on your right. Park there. It looks like the gate is closed but there’s an opening on your right, kind of hidden by tree. Watch out for cars on the main path. One happy Wag’N’Train student writes to encourage all visitors to pick up dog messes as well as leashing your dog until a passerby is out of sight, as “this place is too good to mess with”!
|Now Open – June 2021 – Reed Street Dog Park, 880 Reed St. at Lafayette, is a 1.5 acre park with separate fenced areas for small dogs (18″ or below at the shoulder). Each area has grassy mounds, drinking water, benches, trees, baggie dispensers, garbage cans and a shade structure. There is off-street parking and portable toilet. Open sunrise to sunset daily except Thursdays (closed for maintenance). For more information call the Parks & Recreation department at 408 615-3140. Updated May 2021: Now called the Raymond G. Gamma Dog Park, it looks like it features separate areas for big and small dogs (which I highly recommend!), cooled artificial turf, and some shade, as well as “real” human bathrooms and even an EV charging station! See this Preview Video for more information.|
Las Palmas Dog Park
Located at 850 Russett Dr., Sunnyvale (between Remington, Mathilda, El Camino Real, and Hollenbeck). This is a good-sized dog park, completely fenced-in, with a water spigot, bulletin board, trees, benches, garbage cans, and doggy bags. In the winter, the grassy areas are fenced off to allow their recovery.
Seven Seas Dog Park
Found at 1010 Morse Ave, Sunnyvale. Small enclosed park, sand/dirt flooring can leave dogs dusty, fenced in with a short fence.
Mountain View Dog Park. Located at the corner of North Shoreline Boulevard & North Road (east of the entrance to Shoreline Park at Mountain View), the park has separate large dog and a small dog areas. “The approximate 2/3 acre park is open every day from 6 a.m. through 1/2 hour past sunset. The park is designed to provide separate fenced open areas for both small and large dogs. A shade structure is scheduled to be installed in December 2000. Animals may run off-leash while inside the park; however, they are required to be leashed while going to and from the parking area to the dog park. Dogs are not permitted in Shoreline Park. For more information on the Dog Park, please call the Shoreline Park office at 650/903-6392. Amenities include: Drinking fountains, animal waste bags and dispensers, trash receptacles, a bulletin board, a disabled accessible portable restroom and seating benches. See the City of MV’s Page.
Rengstorf, Cuesta and Whisman Parks have an off-leash “dog training area”. These have “natural boundaries” formed by the slope of the shape of the area, but they are not fenced in. A permit is required for their use.
Los Altos Hills
Los Altos Hills Dog Park, inside Purissima Park, 27440 Purissima Rd, Los Altos. Open sunrise to Sunset daily.
NEW! Hillview Dog Park, 97 Hillview Avenue, Los Altos. For more information see losaltosca.gov.
NEW! McKenzie Dog Park, 707 Fremont Avenue, Los Altos. For more information see losaltosca.gov.
Peers Park. 1899 Park Blvd, Palo Alto.
Mitchell Park Visit Maggie’s Dog Run page which includes a map to Mitchell park at 600 East Meadow.
Greer Park. A smaller dog run than Mitchell’s. At 1098 Amarillo Ave. at West Bayshore. Take Oregon Expressway exit west from 101, go left on Greer, and left again on Amarillo. The park is at the end of the street.
Hoover Park, 2901 Cowper Street, between Colorado and Loma Verde.
Lake Lagunita. “A place at Stanford where you can bring your dog for off leash fun. I suggest only going on Sat, Sun or weeknights after 6:00, because otherwise parking is impossible! The water will probably be drained from the lake in 2 months. Directions from San Jose: 280 to Page Mill Road, Page Mill Road to El Camino, Left on El Camino, Left on Stanford Avenue (there is a Starbucks on the left corner of El Camino and Stanford Ave.), Drive .7 miles to a stop sign at BOWDOIN, Turn RIGHT on Bowdoin, Drive 2 stop signs to CAMPUS DRIVE , Turn LEFT on Campus Drive, Drive to Stop sign on Mayfield, Turn RIGHT on Mayfield, Drive to next stop sign and turn LEFT: you will still be on Mayfield. Drive to stop sign at LOMITA DRIVE, Turn RIGHT on Lomita Drive, Drive .1 mile and turn into parking lot. After parking you will see 2 areas with steps. These steps lead you to the lake.” – From Marilyn.
Morgan Hill Dog Park. “The park will be open 7 days a week from sunrise to sunset, except for Wednesdays from 8 to 10 am for maintenance. The dog park is located in a section of a city park called Community Park on Edmundson Ave in Morgan Hill; it is right next to our new Centennial Recreation Center which is at 171 Edmundson Ave. To get to the park take the Tennant Ave (west) exit from Freeway 101 — Tennant Ave becomes Edmundson Ave after it crosses Monterey Rd. Feel free to contact Morgan Hill Dog Owners Group (MH-DOG) at 408-779-3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more information.”
Located inside the Las Animas Veteran’s Park on the north side of town. Best entrance will be from the Mantelli drive side of the park near one of the softball fields.
(Thanks to Steve Bozzo!)
Foster City Dog Park at Boat Park. This has separate areas for small and big dogs, and features benches, a picnic table, a bulletin board, pooper scoopers and plastic bags, and drinking water for both dogs and humans. Open 6 AM- 10 PM. See http://home.earthlink.net/~ejlmp/fcdr.html for more info.
Redwood Shores Dog Park. Take Hwy. 101 and exit at Holly. Go right to the Redwood Shores Parkway for 2.4 miles to Radio Road. Turn right on Radio Road to the stop sign and turn right again. The entrance to the dog run is a short distance from the stop sign on your right.
Heather Park and Dog Exercise Area 2700 Block of Melendy Drive. “Just west of Heather School on Melendy Drive there is a partially-fenced in set of paved and unpaved trails specially set aside for dog walking. …The dog walking trails tend to head down the canyon, but shorter loops are available, some with stairs” (from San Carlos parks).
Belmont Dog Run. See Maggie’s Belmont Dog Run Page for more information.
Water Dog Lake Park. Dogs are allowed on leash. Wag’N’Train has been told that dogs go swimming in the reservoir but does not know if this is officially allowed or not. Bikes and of course joggers and hikers are allowed so be sure to keep your dog under control at all times. For directions, see this“Weekly dWalker” page.
Alta Mesa Dog Park. “It is located off Bollinger Canyon Road, near San Ramon Valley Blvd. Directions are to take Bollinger Canyon West, pass over San Ramon Valley Blvd. and turn left at the first street after San Ramon Valley.” (Thanks to Patricia Reiter for this info!).
Del Mar Dog Park, Del Mar at Pine Valley .(Thanks to Caryn Kelly for this info!)
Drigon Dog Park, Seventh St. & Mission Blvd, Union City. This park includes a small dog (29 lbs and under) and large dog (30 lbs and over) section, and some agility or agility-like equipment (a dogbone shaped walkway, dog jumps, dog tunnels and a dog climbing platform).
Memorial Park Dog Run, Bollinger Canyon Road at San Ramon Valley Blvd. “1.3 acre dog run within Memorial Park (dedicated to 9/11/01). Fenced, water, shade structure, benches, and surface is decomposed granite, a sandy material that dogs seem to love…. Directions: I680 exit Bollinger Canyon Road, west to San Ramon Valley Blvd, park straight ahead on south side of Bollinger Canyon Road.” (Thanks to the Contra Costa English Bulldog Meetup group for this information!)
San Bruno Dog Park. This park is fenced in and “has awesome views of the bay”.
Burlingame Dog Park. This park has water for dogs, and benches and even a porta-potty for humans! Not much shade, but “cooling bay breezes”. It now has a special section for small dogs. It is open 6 AM-9 PM, but closed Wednesday mornings for maintenance. Park is located at 1125 Airport Blvd. Entrance to the “small dog” area is off of Airport Blvd. See http://home.earthlink.net/~ejlmp/burlingamedp.html for more info.
Seal Point Park. This park has small and big dog sections. “The Seal Point Dog Park is located off of Hwy 101. You take the 3rd Avenue exit East and continue on E. 3rd until it turns into J. Hart Clinton Drive. The park is on the left. When you turn into the park there is a parking lot on the right near the fenced in dog park.” See http://home.earthlink.net/~ejlmp/sanmateodp.html.
Central Park Dog Park is at 1110 Stevenson Blvd. – enter at the softball complex. The park is open sunrise until 10 PM. It has double-gate entry, benches, pet waste disposal bags, and a drinking fountain for both dogs and people. More information at the Fremont website.
The Dougherty Hills Dog Park is at Amador Valley Blvd at Stagecoach Road. Park includes separate areas for small and large dogs, an agility course, drinking fountains, benches, grass. (Thanks to Patricia Reiter who says it’s “doggie paradise!”.)
San Lorenzo Dog Park is at 1970 Via Buena Vista in San Lorenzo. Fenced half-acre site on the west side of the 30-acre park. Park includes separate areas for small (32 lb and under) and large (over 32 lb). “There is water in both, there is 1 bench in the larger dog area. There are plastic bags available for those that forget to bring their own. The grass is almost all dead, there is lots of shade in the big dog area but very barren in the little dog area.” For more information call 510-881-6700. (Thanks to Charrise!)
The Scotts Valley Dog Park is at the Sky Park (the old airport). There are separate enclosures for small dogs and big dogs. Take the Mount Herman exit and head toward Scotts Valley. Go past two stoplights and then take the second right into the shopping center (where you’ll see the movie theater marquee sign) and then take a left on Bluebonnet Rd. The dog park is on the left about 100 yards on. The off-leash dog park is the fenced-in area only. There is also a field nearby, but dogs must be on-leash outside of the fenced-in dog park area. See the Scotts Valley Dog Park webpage for more information or contact Fred Cummings, Committee Chairman, at 831-438-4399 or email@example.com.
Lighthouse Field in Santa Cruz. Dogs allowed on-leash 10-4 at Lighthouse Field. Visit the Friends of Lighthouse Field webpage for more information on these two sites.
Mitchell’s Cove Beach is along West Cliff Drive at Almar in Santa Cruz and also allows dogs off-leash before 10 am and after 4 PM. Dogs must be under immediate and effective voice control by owners/guardians. Dogs allowed on-leash 10-4.
University Terrace is on Meder Street, with a second entrance at Nobel Dr. “Dogs off-leash designated area available” in its back corner, off the nice grass part of the park, and then down the trail. Dogs allowed off-leash from sunrise to 10 AM, on-leash 10-4, and off-leash 4 PM to sunset. See the SC Parks & Recreation website.
Frederick Street Park at 168 Frederick Street
Grant Street Park at 180 Grant Street
Ocean Veiw Park at 102 Ocean View Ave
Pacheco Dog Off-Leash Area at Pacheco Ave and Prospect Heights
Pinto Lake County Park at 757 Green VAlley Rd, Watsonville
Polo Grounds County Park at 2255 Huntington Dr, Aptos
Dogs are allowed off-leash on the service road into Lower DeLaveaga Park from sunrise to sunset. The park is at Market St. past Gruenwald Ct. In the park itself, dogs must be on a leash at all times. Dogs prohibited on athletic fields. Call (831) 420-6160 for more information.
Visit the SC Parks & Recreation page for other dog-friendly parks and beaches in Santa Cruz County.
The Aptos Dog Park is at the Polo Fields County Park on Huntington Drive – off the Rio Del Mar exit, turn North East, at the stoplight (Soquel Drive) turn right, at the fork in the road at Huntington keep left, drive up the hill for about 3/4 mile and it is on the left. The park is well marked and is near Aptos Junior High School. Open 8 AM till sunset. Plenty of parking, water fountain, 2 benches, footing is chips (some have reported redwood splinters in their dogs nailbeds – so be aware if your dog has sensitive feet) There is one big pen, and no double gating on about 1 acre. Also there are paths around the fields that make a nice walk. Playing on the soccer fields is not illegal according to Santa Cruz County Code, but it is against the rules and off leash
dogs can be ticketed any where but in the dog park enclosure.
Other dog park websites
Fort Funston, just south of San Francisco, allows dogs to roam off-leash on the cliffs, dunes and beach. See the Fort Funston Dog Walkers’ page for more information on Fort Funston visit Stiv’s page for pictures, and see FreeDOG for more information on other off-leash parks in San Francisco. More SF off-leash and dog-friendly beaches. Oyster Bay Regional Shoreline, and Pt. Isabel, north-west of Berkeley, allows dogs off-leash on the trails and in the water. See below under “East Bay Regional Parks” and at the Oyster Bay Dogs site. ALL OVER the USA – See DogParkUSA, a fabulous resource by Greg and Tracy Hoslcaw!
Hikes with your dog
Hiking is a wonderful activity to do with your dog. Be sure to bring with you: enough water for both of you and something for your dog to drink from, a leash (even if the trail allows off-leash walking), treats, and baggies. Yes, even though dog waste is “organic”, you should still pick it up and pack it out with you – don’t leave it on the trail. Before you start, make sure your dog’s feet are in good condition for hiking, including that nails are long enough for traction and short enough to not interfere with steps. When you finish, check the feet for injuries, and check the dog all over for scratches, burrs, foxtails, and ticks (use a flea comb to check through the fur). In our area, you should also be aware of when seasonal dangers like poison oak, foxtails, and ticks may be present, and pay attention to warnings about the presence of coyotes or mountain lions (especially if you have a smaller dog). There is also a danger from blue-green algae during “blooms” in certain times of the year – you can check CA Water Boards map of harmful algal blooms (HABs) before you go!
Dogs are allowed in all State Parks within picnic/campground areas. They must be on a 6-foot-leash at all times and cannot be left unattended. Dogs may be allowed on-leash only on some State Park hiking trails.
New: POST’s guide to dog-friendly trails (from Peninsula Open Space Trust)
The East Bay Parks webpage also has some excellent tips for hiking with your dog.
The Santa Clara County Parks Dog Trails lists the following trails where dogs are allowed on-leash:
|Almaden Quicksilver: New Almaden trail, unpaved pedestrian only trail, 6.65 miles. Mine Hill trail, 6.4 miles; Guadalupe 2.31 miles; Senator Mine 0.8 miles; Providencia 1.16 miles; Randol 4.7 miles; Hacienda 3.0 miles; Virl O. Norton Memorial Trail 1.2 miles; Prospect #3 0.5 miles; all of these are equestrian/hiking trails, so watch out for horses, and that which horses leave behind them! Mine Hill and Randol are also multi-use/mountain bike trails. It’s really a good idea to obey the law and keep your dog on leash!|
|Coyote Creek Parkway Coyote Creek trail, 13.7 miles, paved bike and pedestrian trail. Equestrian Trail 7.5 miles (Metcalf to Burnett) – watch out for horses.|
|Coyote Lake Park: Campground Trail, unpaved pedestrian only trail, 1.0 mile; South Trail 1.0 mile (Park entrance to office) – this is an equestrian/hiking trail.|
|Lexington Reservoir: Priest Rock trail 2.1 miles (in County park); Overgrown trail 1.0 mile (in County park); Jones trail 0.5 miles; Los Gatos Creek trail 1.5 miles (to Main St.). These are multi-use/mountain bike trails.|
|Los Gatos Creek: Los Gatos Creek trail 7.4 miles (Leigh Ave. to Main St.). Paved bike and pedestrian trail.|
|Martial Cottle Park: The 3+ miles of paved trails offers recreational opportunities for walkers, joggers, bicyclists, skaters, non-motorized scooters and roller bladers. Equestrians and dogs on 6-foot leash are also welcome on the trail. Please pick up after your pets.|
|Mount Madonna: Sprig Lake trail, 2.4 miles; Rock Springs trail, 0.47 miles; Tanoak trail, 0.83 miles; Miller Loop trail, 0.86 miles; Redwood trail, 0.82 miles; Bayview trail (upper), 0.35. All unpaved pedestrian-only trails. Equestrian and hiking trails: Blackhawk trail, 2.0 miles; Bayview trail (lower) 0.65 miles; Blue Springs trail, 1.2 miles; Meadow trail,
0.5 miles; Iron Springs trail, 0.47 miles; Ridge trail, 1.72 miles; Contour trail, 0.17 miles; Loop trail, 1.6 miles; Merry-Go-Round trail, 1.93 miles; Tie Camp trail, 0.76 miles. Note that you can camp here, overnight, with your dog. Also note that this is a Mecca for archers; make sure your dog is on leash; so that you don’t have to worry about stray arrows!
|Penitencia Creek: Penitencia Creek trail, 1.9 miles (not contiguous). Paved bike and pedestrian trail.|
|Santa Teresa: Mine trail, 1.87 miles (portions of this trail allow dogs); Hidden Springs trail, 1.1 miles; Coyote Peak trail, 2.41 miles; Ridge trail, 0.6 miles; Boundary trail, 0.8 miles; Fortini trail, 0.85 miles. These are all multi-use/mountain bike trails.|
|Stevens Creek or Upper Stevens Creek: Old Canyon trail, 1.3 miles, multi-use/mountain bike trail.|
|Uvas Canyon: Nibbs Knob trail, 1.9 miles; Contour trail, 1.57 miles; Knobcone trail, 0.4 miles; Alec Canyon trail, 1.2 miles; Waterfall Loop trail, 0.6 miles. All unpaved pedestrian-only trails.|
|Sanborn: Although the website implies that dogs are only allowed in the campground, and some of the trail signs say “no dogs”, the ranger and trail guide said that dogs were allowed on all trails as long as they were on a 6-foot or shorter leash. There are many shaded miles of trails and a few small streams.|
Coyote Lake – Mendoza Ranch – “The 2.8 mile loop trail is a broad dirt road which climbs gently up through oak-studded meadows. Most of the walk is out in the wilderness, but for part of the way there are views of Gilroy, San Martin, and Morgan Hill, all looking like tiny toy towns while you are hiking high up among the soaring raptors. Large deer peer at hikers with surprise, before they bound off into the brush. This is not a trail to hike during hot weather, as much of it is in the open, although there are some lovely stretches where the sun just dapples the leafy path under the shade trees. Back at the parking lot, there is a water fountain with a separate water fountain on the ground for dogs. (The dog fountain carries the unnecessary warning “for pets only”!) You can find out more about the park and see a trail map on the Santa Clara County parks website, www.parkhere.org.” (Thanks to Marie Crofoot!)
|Santa Clara County ParksThe parks marked with green stars allow on-leash hiking. The red stars denote off-leash dog parks.|
|Coal Creek: Dogs allowed on all trails, on-leash. Reach Coal Creek from the vista point or further north along Skyline Boulevard at Crazy Pete’s Road. Coal Creek is also accessible to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians from Alpine Road.|
|Foothills: Dogs allowed on all trails, on-leash. Access is from Page Mill Road, 3.5 miles south of 1-280, with parking for two cars at a roadside pullout. The pullout is on the south side and can be identified by a brown pipe gate and wood rail fence. The trail begins at a step-over stile.|
|Fremont Older : Dogs allowed on all trails, on-leash. The entrance is located at the end of Prospect Road, 1.5 miles west of its intersection with Stelling Road. From Interstate 280, take Route 85 (Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road) south to its intersection with Prospect Road. Travel west on Prospect Road until you reach the preserve. Parking for approximately 15 cars is available here. Additional parking is located in Stevens Creek County Park adjacent to Stevens Canyon Road.|
|Pulgas Ridge: Includes 16-acre off-leash area in the middle of the preserve, bounded by paved road, and accessible via the Blue Oak Trail or the Cordilleras Trail. This 16 acres of oak woodland and grassland is the only area in the District where you may have your dog off-leash, under voice control. You must keep your dog on a leash on your way to and from the voice-control area. While in this area, you must have a leash in your possession and keep your animal under control at all times. Dogs must not be allowed to interfere with or harass preserve visitors, other dogs, or wildlife. Remove your dog’s excrement immediately. Do not let your dog eliminate in or near water. Carry plastic bags with you for dog waste collection. From interstate 280, take the Edgewood Road exit. Travel 0.75 miles northeast on Edgewood Road toward San Carlos and Redwood City. Turn left (north) on Crestview Drive, and the immediately turn left on Edmonds Road. Limited roadside parking is available along Crestview Drive and Edmonds Road.|
|Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve: Leashed dogs are allowed on all trails in the Kennedy-Limekiln Area of this preserve only.|
|St. Joseph’s Hill : Dogs are allowed on all trails.|
|Thornewood: Dogs are allowed on all trails. Access to the preserve is through a brick gate on the south side of La Honda Road (Highway 84), 1.6 miles above its intersection with Portola Road in Woodside. A narrow driveway winds through the woods for 0.3 miles before reaching the parking lot The parking area holds 12 vehicles and is located on the west side of the driveway. A 3/4 mile trail (one-way) begins at the parking area and terminates at Schilling Lake|
|Windy Hill: Dogs are allowed on designated trails only. Leashed dogs are allowed on designated trails at this preserve. The Preserve is located in the Town of Portola Valley. The main parking area is located on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35), 2.3 miles south of Highway 84 (La Honda Road), or 4.9 miles north of Page Mill Road. Additional roadside parking is available along Skyline Boulevard. For access to the lower portion of the preserve, please park at Portola Valley Town Hall and follow the town trails to the preserve.|
Palo Alto Open Space (thanks to Marie Crofoot!) Arastradero Preserve: 6 miles of unpaved trails. On Arastradero Road just north of Page Mill Road in Palo Alto (west of Highway 280). Multi-use trails through grasslands and oak woodlands. Leashed dogs allowed on all trails.
The Baylands: 4 miles of paved and unpaved trails through wetlands and along the San Francisco Bay. At the end of Embarcadero East, about a mile from Highway 101. Leashed dogs allowed except for in Nature Center and at the
East Bay Regional Parks
East Bay Regional Parks allows dogs in almost all of their parks. Be sure to read over their rules page.Dogs are not allowed in Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve, Round Valley Regional Preserve, Brooks Island Regional Preserve, Regional Parks Botanic Garden (in Tilden Regional Park), Tilden Nature Area (in Tilden Regional Park), all swimming pools, all swim beaches, wetlands or marsh areas, designated nature study areas, golf courses (Tilden Regional Park And Anthony Chabot Regional Park), any other area specifically designated by the Board, and any area so posted. They also have organized dog walks and classes – check out their events webpage.
Point Isabel Regional Shoreline: Dogs are allowed off-leash here. Dog owners must carry a leash, keep their dog or other animal under voice control and within sight at all times, clean up feces, immediately leash any dog showing aggression, and prevent dogs from digging or damaging park resources. Sunol Regional Wilderness: Dogs are allowed to hike the trails here, sharing them with hikers and horses, and getting to enjoy the streams and fields. They can be off-leash if under voice control. There’s a $1 entrance for them.
Santa Cruz County
Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Dogs are welcome in the park but must be on a leash at all times. They are allowed in the picnic area, the campground area, and on paved roads only. Dogs are not allowed anywhere at Rancho del Oso or on any other trails or interior roads. They must be kept in the car or tent at night. They may not be left unattended. Check at Park Headquarters for scheduled guided “dog walks.” These informative group hikes give dog owners a chance to take their dogs along while learning about redwood ecology and park history.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park – dogs allowed on Meadow Trail, Graham Hill Trail, and Pipeline Rd, and the paved roads in the campground adjacent to Graham Hill Rd.
Lodato Park, in Scotts Valley has “a nice loop trail, about a mile and a half roundtrip, lots of up-hill, all redwoody and pleasant, and dogs are allowed off leash (for now, anyway). Access is from the back corner of the parking lot behind ‘Rainmaker Software’, on the frontage road east (on the right as you go from Santa Cruz to San Jose) of Hwy 17 (going north, exit at Mt. Hermon road, go over the freeway, turn right, wind back under the freeway, turn left at the T intersection (stop sign), go to the end of the road).” – from Qarin
Pogonip Open Space Preserve: 7 miles of unpaved trails. At the west end of Golf Club Drive, off Highway 9 just north of Highway 1. Trails offer grassland, oak, redwood, and views of Monterey Bay. Leashed dogs allowed on most of the trails. Check the trail map at the entrance. (Thanks to Marie Crofoot!)
De Laveaga Park: Several miles of unpaved trails. Enter at the northern end of Branciforte Drive just north of Santa Cruz (333 Gold Club Dr). Trails are primitive and not well marked. Map available at ranger station. Leashed dogs allowed on all trails. Park also includes athletic fields and playground. (Thanks to Marie Crofoot!)
See also santacruz.org
Dogs are allowed on-leash (maximum 6 feet) at the following SC beaches: Its Beach, Lighthouse Field (interior), Manresa State Beach, New Brighton State Beach, Palm beach (only between Pajaro Dunes condos and houses, but not away from the residences), Seabright Beach (on the north side of the SC yacht harbor), Seacliff and Rio Del Mar beaches, Twin Lakes State beach (east of the 7th Ave yacht harbor).
Last Updated May 2023 by Stacy Braslau-Schneck
All material copyright Stacy Braslau-Schneck. Reprints for non-commercial use, and with the author’s permission only.
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