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iWildWolves Photography

Capturing the essence of animals through my lens

Posts tagged ‘adventure’

4 Dog-Friendly Beaches in San Diego you HAVE to check out this summer!

If you are in the San Diego area and are looking for a Dog-friendly beach you must check out Ocean Beach dog beach.

 

Ocean Beach

This is an off-leash dog beach, separated from the “No dogs” side AKA the Not Fun side by a large rock formation. Of the Southern California dog beaches we’ve gone to, this one is by far my favorite! The beach stretches a mile long so you can walk along with the whole thing and back while your dog runs in and out of the water and checks out things getting washed up on the shore. I also like this area more for the community that goes there, for the most part, everyone both human and the dog has proper off-leash beach etiquette. The dogs either mind their own business or kindly tell the others to back off which from what I’ve seen while going there they listen.

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I consider this beach to be kind of a two-part beach, along the oceanfront side the white frothy waves come in and out which is excellent playtime for dogs and make beautiful pictures for the photographing owner. There are lots of tiny seashells that get washed ashore as well ranging in many shapes, sizes, and colors! If you keep walking the water flows into a shallow river and the banks are more solid, however, lots of critters live down below, you can tell by how many air pockets there are! The water slows to a still the further you go where at the end it’s blocked off for a bird wildlife protected area.

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Getting there:

You can take any freeway route that will meet up with the 8 junctions. You want to take the 8 West toward Beaches and follow signs for Sunset Cliffs. Keep in the left lane because there will come a fork in the road, you want to take a left at that fork (which has 2 lanes) use the right lane just to make merging easier. Next, you will take the first Right onto West Point Loma Blvd (you can also make a right on Voltaire which is the next street up). From here you will pass by all the vacation housing, make the first right you can take on Voltaire and you drive right into the parking lot.

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Parking:

  • Free!
  • I have never had trouble finding parking, but it can get full depending on when you go.
  • Handicap accessible
  • Clean apart from sand
  • Closes at 2am
  • Opens at 4am
  • **There is NO overnight parking between the hours of 2am-4am if you’re stealth camping I hear nobody seems to bother anyone though careful not to risk a ticket if you can’t afford it**

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Policies:

It’s an off-leash dog beach so all dogs should be off leash, leashes in these situations can lead to fights. (the Only fight I saw on the beach was with a leashed dog)

Clean up after your dog! There are bags at the entrance and trash cans all over so there is no excuse for not cleaning up after your dog. **I will admit, sometimes a dog poops in the ocean when waves are crashing all over and so collecting the feces may not be possible. Yes, Beowolf I’m looking at you! (His first time) **

No fighting! Dog or people. People who come to the beach don’t want drama so if you or your dog can’t handle the uncontrollable situations at an off-leash dog beach then consider therapy and training before going. Valentine will never go anywhere that’s an off-leash social dog area, she’s a wild card and still in training, as she was attacked by 2 dogs when she was 10 weeks old she may never be able to do this but I’m hopeful one day she will trust me enough for this.

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Del Mar Dog Beach

I’ve come to this beach a couple of times and I like it. It IS a leashed dog beach which means all dogs always need to be leashed. This beach runs along with large rock formations, caves, and is at the base of the mountains of Del Mar so there is lots of privacy and areas that if you trust your dog they can quietly go off leash. The beach runs onto “Private Property” which homeowner will come out and scold you for being on their beach. I still think the idea of this is stupid but whatever, I either keep it moving or turn back the other way.

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Like OB this beach has was I call 2 sections. The coastal rock formation side and a lakeside. To the left of the beach under the bridge where the cars are usually parked is a large open lake where the ocean water channels into. There aren’t many places to set up camp or anything but if you’re just planning on swimming and letting the dogs swim it’s great! There are also lots of creatures that find themselves washed in and stranded during low tide so you can check them out and maybe do a little fishing (though I wouldn’t recommend this if dogs are playing nearby). I find this beach a little more crowded than OB, there are residential housing everywhere and this is the place to bring your dog if you have one so there can be a lot of dogs and families here.

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Getting there:

Getting to Del Mar dog beach is so easy! It’s off the 5 freeway and exit Via De La Valle, hang a right and then a left on Camino Del Mar and you should start seeing parking on the side of the road. **This is also where the Del Mar Racetrack/Fairgrounds are so again aware of what time of year you are going to account for traffic and parking**

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Parking:

  • Free
  • Difficult to find parking as it’s street parking everywhere so there are no lots to funnel into. This also means depending on where you find parking you may be in for a hike to the beach or paying.
  • Probably not handicap accessible or no different than any other street parking scenario.

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Amenities & Policies:

  • There are tons of trashcans to keep the beach clean and a dog poop bag dispenser so again no excuse not to clean up after your dog.
  • Lots of porta-potties as well! Though in the hot sun it’s not ideal when you gotta go…
  • Dogs have to be on leashes and it actually says on the website, standard 6-foot leash. The retractable leashes give you no control if there were to be a tussle and I’ve seen a dog get dragged because another dog chasing a ball ran through the line and yanked the handle from the owner. It didn’t stop until both dogs were in the water and the owners got into a huge argument over the leash!
  • Proper dog etiquette!

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Other Dog-Friendly Beaches in San Diego

Fiesta Island dog park- 1750 Fiesta Island Rd, San Diego, Ca. 92109

Coronado Beach and Dog Park- Ocean Blvd, Coronado, Ca. 92118

 

I have not been to these other 2 beaches though I want to! If you guys want me to take another family vacation south to check these ones out let me know!

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San Diego or BUST! Taking the PCH with Beowolf to stealth camp in Bonita.

If you’re tired of being in LA this spring and want to venture out to other areas of Southern California then San Diego is the next obvious choice! With so many things to do, places to see, the zoos, the safari park, the beaches! Paired with perfect weather it’s the ultimate day out scene. Want to step it up a notch, well if you have the gas and the patience then taking PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) is the way to go!

 

I have always wanted to drive up the coast of California along the 1 PCH and never had the time or the opportunity, but this weekend all of that changed. I have a newer reliable car, better gas mileage and some money in the bank as a cushion. Also I was set to attend the USMRA National Championship, details on the event to come!

 

I cleaned the car, checked all the fluids, filled up the tank (mine cost $40-45 to fill) and loaded Beowolf into the car. I needed to keep Valentine home for this one, the size of the event along with number of other dog’s present can be a lot on her and it was just me so I wouldn’t have help to handle her, it wouldn’t be fair to Valentine or helpful in her training to not give her my full attention. Not to mention I was also working as a stand in RVT so even Beowolf would have to be put up if I was needed. Even though it was a quick trip I managed to do a lot! I saw my father who also got to hang out and watch the event, I took Beowolf to Ocean Beach Dog Beach which is our favorite place to go when in town and we got to see some of Camp Pendleton which is my old stomping grounds! Though I would have loved to do more and see more, this was a short visit.

 

So let’s get started!

To get to PCH I headed on the 405 West to the 110 in Carson and hopped onto the 1 in Harbor City. Firstly I wouldn’t recommend this, take the 405 to Seal Beach. From Harbor City on its mostly Long Beach inner city and residential areas, I feel like I wasted time and gas on stop and go inner city traffic and wasn’t even close to the oceanic sights I was seeking. This was a lesson I learned for YOU!

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Stay on the freeway until you get to Seal Beach, from there the PCH is beautiful! We stopped at Starbucks for some drinks and food and I needed to go to the bathroom, so I let Beowolf out to stretch his legs and he got his pupaccino! I saved money here as well, using a Starbucks gift card I got a long time ago, so it was FREE today! When we were relaxed it was off to the second leg of our adventure!

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You still go through beach cities like Huntington Beach, Newport Beach (home of my beloved show, The O.C), Laguna Beach (shout out to my girl Kristen Cavallari!), all the way to Dana Point. It was so nice listening to my music on a beautiful sunny spring day driving through the cute little cities with glimpses of the ocean as you pass by! We didn’t stop anywhere because I was still on a schedule and the plan was just to drive the PCH, next time we will get off and hit the beaches or eat somewhere.

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This was basically a recon mission, where to start the PCH journey, where the places I want to get off at, and any other little details I made note of as I passed by. Beowolf spent most of the time with his head out the window saying hi to the beach goers on the sidewalk who were equally in awe of him.

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Once we passed through Dana Point I decided to hop back on the 5 freeway as Beowolf was getting fidgety and likely had to go to the bathroom again, I didn’t want to stop in the city to try and find a park, but I knew there would be rest stops.

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We reached our first rest stop just before you reach the Main Gate of Camp Pendleton, Beowolf stretched his legs and sniffed for a good spot to potty while I stared at the oceanic views that were once my own back yard. I also longed to be back living on Camp Pendleton that was also once my home, but that was another life, still I couldn’t help the nostalgia from sneaking in momentarily.

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We spent 10 minutes at the San Onofre rest stop and when Beowolf was finished we hopped back in the car and was ready for the 3rd and final leg of our drive. As it was a little after 1:30 pm, it wasn’t too busy although there was still plenty of traffic. At this point I knew the freeway like the back of my hand, as this was the route I took to get to work when I lived in Oceanside and worked in Mira Mesa. It was like falling back into line, except this time I wasn’t on my way to some low paying job, and I had more entertainment to look forward to.

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I made it to Rohr Park in Bonita just before 3:30pm. Most of the set up for the next day event was done, but there was still plenty to do. So I let Beowolf rest while I ran around taping, cutting, hammering, and other stuff trying to help everyone finish in time for dinner. I didn’t go to the dinner with everyone because I wanted to see family, so my father bought pizza and we just hung out with Beowolf catching up on a lot.

 

Catching Z’s

So as any normal person would do, they would stay the night with family. However I am a future vanlifer (not nearly ready to start) and need to get the experience living in my car…again. Since the event was set up on a public park they needed overnighters to stay in the parking lot and keep an eye on things. This was the job for me and another girl who came to compete with her dog. Originally the plan was to shoot over to Ocean Beach and sleep in the parking lot there, it’s free and permitted until 2am then opens back up at 4am. A few friends suggested I do that as well as reviews sounded promising, the only risk would be being woke up by police between the hours of 2-4am, though the risk was low as not many cops bother you if you’re not bothering anyone. Plus in my car I just look like a tourist who parked her extra car there, versus a large RV that’s a big target. Nonetheless the sanctioned opportunity to just stay in the parking lot at the park was better, I didn’t want to really do more driving and there was a bathroom right by the car. It was also quiet and more private than at night where there can be a lot of passerby people who could disrupt my sleep.

 

I let Beowolf out to run around the huge field while I set up the bed in the back of my car and got dressed into something comfortable then it was time for night night. Only 1 parking patrol car drove by around midnight (park closes from 10am-6am) but they didn’t bother me, not sure if they didn’t care about 2 vehicles doing nothing, or if they knew there were 2 vehicles permitted to be there, but I slept like a baby. It was so warm and cozy as I used this new car air mattress I got on amazon. It was easy to inflate and insulate the heat better than I thought, in fact when I woke up the next morning all my windows were dripping from the steam we created!

 

I was glad in the end that I stayed there, the bathrooms were better than portal potties. I let Beowolf out for a minute and then deflated the mattress putting away our night things and got ready for the beach! We got to Ocean Beach dog beach around 7am and it was already getting busy, there weren’t many dogs though which I was happy about. There is a reason I stopped taking Beowolf to dog parks and that reason stretches to public beaches as well. He has never once started a fight or caused trouble, but not everyone watches their dogs or has control of them, Beowolf can also be a… wolf… which means he doesn’t always come when called either. It had been a while since I let him mingle freely with other strange dogs and so before getting out of the car I gave him a pep talk to be on his best behavior.

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He heeded my advice and was a very good boy, though like I predicted he didn’t much want to come when called. He was more focused sniffing the thousandth pile of seaweed to care about my commands (something we need to work on) but all in all he was well behaved and made new friends, he also made sure to stay close by. I managed to get amazing footage of him, but my stupid phone was dying and his reluctance for paparazzi meant I couldn’t get all the shots I wanted! Oh well, reason for another trip I suppose! We stayed there a little over an hour and then went back to Rohr park where it was already packed!

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The event was awesome! I got to see friends that I haven’t seen in a while and watch people from our club compete on the National levels which was great, my father stopped by to hang out and watch the event too. Even Beowolf sat with us for a good portion of the day until it was time to break for lunch in which case it was time to put the beggar away. As it grew later in the day I needed to head out, like I said it was a very quick trip, I needed to be back to work the next day and didn’t want to get in too late. My father checked out my car and made sure I was ready for the 3hr drive ahead of us, I filled up the rest of my tank (I never start a long-distance drive without my tank FULL) and headed out.

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The drive home was great, later than I wanted so the sun was lower than I like, making it so I must constantly flip back and forth the sun visor for shade. Overall it was as I predicted. I just took the 5 straight up because at this point I just wanted to get HOME! This made it easier too not having to navigate a lot of traffic, just stay in this lane and we’re good. I travel this way a lot as well, my grandpa lives in La Habra and so I take the 5 everywhere.

 

I got home around 7pm which was good timing for the drive. Bagheera and Valentine were ecstatic to see me, I let Beowolf out to run the property with Valentine while I unloaded the car and got settled into the house. They could use the nice stretch of their legs too, Beowolf with me having jetlag and Valentine from being in the kennels overnight.

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We’re exhausted, to say the least, but it was a great time! Even though it was short I mostly wanted to see if I could do it and take advantage of things I’ve been wanting to do. Like, get a first-hand knowledge of Pacific Coast Highway and stealth camping in other places. I intend on taking PCH northbound at a later date to check out those areas as well, likely will be when I go up to Sacramento for my stepdad’s grand opening of a restaurant.

 

In the meantime, stay classy San Diego!

A quest for the Hidden Falls!

If you’re near the Sacramento area this summer looking for a great place to hike then look no further than Hidden Falls trails. Nestled in the mountains of Auburn, California. This quiet pristine wilderness is suitable for all levels of hikers, dog hikers, and horse hikers alike!

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Location: 7587 Mears Pl, Auburn, CA 95603

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As you drive toward Reno the adventure begins, as you slowly leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind the freeway begins to lighten up. You can see the dense forest from the road grow heavier the further you go and it’s a beautiful site to see!

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The parking lot is huge, I’ve never had difficulty finding parking here, though it is usually busy along with horse trailers to the side. As you enter the trail there is a vast meadow you walk alongside, depending on the time of year this can be green with tall grass, littered with wildflowers or dry wheatlike stems (hotter months). Nonetheless, it is beautiful and you will often see families enjoying it, horses trotting, or dogs running around exploring. If you continue on the trail begins to descend at once although it’s not difficult to navigate I would still recommend you watch your footing. It’s nice the forest engulfs you and as far as the eye can see there is dense brush and trees everywhere! Green is all over! Horses take this trail as well so remember to share the road, especially if you have kids and/or dogs. The trail zig-zags its way down the mountainside and once you hit the bottom it’s mostly level and an easy stroll to look around and enjoy the sites. At this point you are given a choice which trail to take, one for different levels of hikers, I am obviously a beginner as Beowolf and I are weekend warriors. So we take the shorter hike.

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This trail takes you around the mountain and through some smaller paths. You walk alongside a beautiful stream that leads you to the river (shallow and slow), this is great during the summer when it’s hot to let the kids play or dogs romp and cool off. By now, if your dog is anything like Beowolf, he has pulled so much he gave himself a workout and cool water will do him good! Following along the trail there is so much foliage it’s amazing, the smell is invigorating and sweet, while even in the middle of summer it won’t get too hot as there is so much shade!

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Eventually, the trail begins its incline which isn’t too bad, it’s not too steep or for long but by now you’ve been walking and so it’s enough to get your heart rate up. It will open up into a meadow as you reach the top, this is usually where I rest and get some water, there are still lots of trees and shade so again it’s not so bad.

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Following along you reach the Hidden Falls lookout, which is basically a giant patio that overlooks the river and one of the smaller waterfalls. Depending on the time of year this may be closed off, usually due to construction or repairs, etc. It was closed every time I went (yes the website does show this as well, but other trails lead to different aspects of several waterfalls). Continuing on it then leads to a very small path that apparently cows graze up to on the other side, as there is a gate that is to stay closed at all times so the cows don’t walk through and get lost. I never saw any cows, but I know they were there as there was poop.

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This small path leads to a tiny fork in the road, going one way and you continue with the trail, however going the other way and it leads you to another place to overlook the river. There is also a beaten path that leads down to the water, it’s pretty easy to navigate and it’s worth descending for, as there are lots of large rocks to sit on and enjoy the water. It’s also a very shallow area with a nice bank to enjoy the cool water and a nice rest. Which of course I had to let Beowolf play in the water, he was so grateful.

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Then we went back up to the trail to go ahead further. Because we were on the short trail we eventually ended up back to the trail map at the beginning of the hike, coming around from the opposite side. Getting back to the parking lot, we had to zig-zag our way back UP the mountain, which it was great going down but not so great going up as the entire time you’re climbing. I clipped the leash to Beowolf’s harness so he could help me up a bit, as he still had the strength and energy to pull me up I let him.

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We passed a few horses on the way up which is always nice for 2 reasons: 1- I like looking at horses. 2- There isn’t a lot of room on this path so someone has to move aside and let the horses pass, this gave us opportunities to stop for a quick break as we waited for them to go by. As we reached the top and exit the forest the sun will greet you with a hot slap to the face! I usually take a wider trail that circles through the meadow, allowing Beowolf to run more freely on the long leash and gives myself a chance to just stroll through and catch my breath. There’s also another area where you can overlook the valley as you stand on top of a peak so to speak. We rested and drank more water before calling it a day and heading back to the car.

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All in all, it was a great day! I love this hiking spot for its beautiful green scenery and easy accessibility to the river. I wish that when I go next time I’m either in better shape to take a harder hike and make it to the main waterfall, or the lookout deck is open so I can get some great pictures!

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I would rate this trip a 5 out of 5.

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Roads: Paved the entire way to the parking lot and it’s an easy drive to get there.

Trails: Clean and well maintained. Do watch out for poison ivy off the paths, but there shouldn’t be an issue if you stay on the trails. Everything is marked with arrows and signs where to go and how far you’ve gone.

Environment: It’s covered with foliage but the trails still give you a lot to work for so bring water and comfortable clothes. As well as snacks as all the trails lead to the main picnic area to stop and rest or eat.

Gear: Camelback for sure. Hiking boots aren’t necessary on the short trail but I do not know about the longer trails, yet I see people wear all kinds of shoes, and they seem fine. I had Beowolf wear a hiking pack to carry his own water and food, along with his pet first aid kit and a pair of boots just in case. He didn’t need the boots this time, and a friend went with us and so his dog shared “Pack duties” carrying the load for half the trail.

Hydration Camelback

Dog boots

K9 Hiking pack

Alltrails.com: I love this app. It gives me important information about potential sites to see and is always a reliable resource.

This trail will always be a staple for me when I’m in the area and looking for someplace green to visit. Check it out and you will see why I love it!

Salutations!

Enjoy these photos!
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A day with the dogs at Devil’s Punch Bowl

“Wake me up, before you go go, we’re gonna head up to Devil’s Punch Bowl!”

Devil’s Punch Bowl- Angeles National Forest- San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles County, California.

If you’re looking for something to do this spring, chances are you came across Devil’s Punch Bowl as a choice. Located in the desert mountains East of Palmdale, California, it’s a tourist attraction that is a unique sight! Since it’s only a 40-minute drive from my house it’s an easy go-to for a day trip.

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As you drive into the parking lot on any given day it could be packed, yet I have gone a couple times when there was barely any cars there. This is mostly in the cooler months but every once in a while you get lucky. There is an information center there but it’s usually closed or crowded when I go, and across from that is a park area where you can sit in the shade and eat lunch or celebrate a successful hike. I save that for the end of my hike, so I skip on over to the entrance of the trail.

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Now I don’t know about you, but I am no mountaineer rock climber, not to say you have to be to pursue these trails, but I am majorly out of shape. Coming off depression and seasonal weight gain, not to mention working in an office all the time my activity level is low. Being a beginner I still managed to take the shortest trail and made it all the way to the end!

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There are lots of areas that get your heart rate going and I had to take a couple of stops to catch my breath and ask myself why I put myself through this! I do this for my dogs so I will do whatever it takes so they can get out and have a great day. I have long leads for them but there were lots of areas that I could trust them to go off leash but, do this with caution! There are lots of areas where if a dog is too close to the ledge they can slip and down the mountain, they go! My dog’s recall is pretty solid at this point, and so I gave it a try, not to mention 2 dogs pulling me DOWN the steep slopes is not ideal for someone who has weak ankles (thanks grandma) so in order not break my neck 5 minutes into the hike I let them go.

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I can’t say how long it took me to complete the trail, I stopped for water for all 3 of us and stopped for pictures but I would say it would take the average person 45-minutes to 1-hour.

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Here are some things you should know:

  • Environment- You’re in the middle of rocks, a mountain of them, so it’s very dry with no shade. It’s also usually hot and be careful where you step for layers of dirt that can slide out from under you. Bring sunscreen!
  • Roads– Mostly paved the entire way up, traffic is not bad at all either depending on the day and time of day.
  • Gear– Wear a hat and layers and bring sunglasses if you like them. I took my camelback and wore some comfortable light clothes. The dogs didn’t need anything special, I may take hiking boots but to be honest, the trails can be slippery and I want them to have as much of their grip as possible in the event they were to slip and fall. (Call me paranoid).
  • Stay Hydrated– Keep water with you for you and your dogs. Heat stroke in the middle of the trail is not ideal and very dangerous.
  • Pet Policy– Dogs allowed! Of course, on a leash and obviously behaved.

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Fun Facts:

  • This is the home to an Endangered Species the Mountain yellow-legged frog.
  • It is actually a giant naturally formed amphitheater, try yelling out and listen to it echo off the mountains.
  • Devil’s Punch Bowl is home to a lot of animals, such as coyotes, foxes, deer, and even mountain goats (rare).

It was a long day but we made it together, we rested at the picnic area in the shade and took in some water. Back at the car I had snacks and always bring dog food, so we put a little something into our growling stomachs and loaded. The trip home was easy breezy, the dogs exhausted and happy in the back as we all hungrily make our way home.

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Hey, guys hope you enjoyed seeing our little trip together! Check out the rest of the photos and feel free to leave me a comment, your feedback is important to me!

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