Getting backing back to nature with my four legged best friend is one my favorite activities from early spring to late fall. Right here in Peoria County lies a plethora of adventures to be had. There are miles upon miles of beautiful land for us to explore, providing new experiences that bond us closer together. There are several other reasons I love hiking with my dog, Dixie. While the quality time together is enough, being in nature soothes the mind, and the activity is great for both of our bodies. While I relieve my mind and get in some fun exercise, Dixie takes in all the sights, sounds, and smells that the trails have to offer. Though we usually stick to the same few trails, everything seems brand new to her, she thoroughly enjoys the time we spend outside, and she uses enough of her energy that for the rest of the day she is content if you just throw the ball across the living room a few times. Anything that naturally exhausts your dogs energy is good, right? Don’t forget that all it costs is a pair of hiking shoes and a sport harness! I’ll be sharing with you some of my favorite dog friendly trails right here in the Peoria area. Though most trails are dog friendly, your pet must be on a leash at all times, and if ever unsure, check the park district website for rules and regulations.
Along the Illinois River Bluff trail, which I access from Mossville Road, you can take in Robinson Park and Camp Wokanda. Robinson Park is Dixie’s favorite, but is more suited for both owners and pets that enjoy moderate activity. It is a very natural trail and you should wear proper hiking shoes and your pet should wear a comfortable harness. Though there are bridges in some spots, lush greenery, and tranquil creeks, there are also steep slopes, poison ivy, and sometimes fallen limbs or washouts. Another great area to explore is Detweiller Park. There are several different trails for all activity levels. Though there are some easy trails, you should you still wear proper footwear and your pet should wear a harness. Though there are steep slopes at Detweilller Park, the park district has made it a little easier by laying down posts as make shift “stairs”. It has as much to offer as Robinson Park, but is generally easier because it is convenient to take only a small loop of the whole trail. Visit the Peoria Park District website for details and maps.
The most “family friendly” trail is the Rock Island Trail Extension. We use the access point at Pioneer Parkway in Peoria. The trail is very clear, mostly flat, paved, and you will notice familiar landmarks along the way. There is still much to see and Dixie and I always enjoy ourselves. She especially enjoys going through the tunnel and playing with fallen hedge balls. This trail is wonderful for all ages and activity levels. You can enjoy a leisurely walk, an invigorating run, or even bicycling. A supportive walking/running shoe is always recommended, but hiking shoes are not needed, as the trail is paved. Also, if you and your best fur friend are only out for a stroll, a regular leash and collar will suffice. When exploring with your pets, always be prepared. Carry or be familiar with a map of the area, be alert when in nature, be aware of weather conditions, protect yourself with bug repellent and/or sun block, stay hydrated, pay attention to your pet’s behavior, don’t push yourself or your pet too far, and don’t forget to have fun!
by: Lisa DeWan