The City Magazine Since 1975

Going to the Dogs: Tail-friendly Trails

(Left) Heather Hurn and friends hiking Laurel Hill County Park with her “floofs,” who regularly race in dryland mushing events; follow them and their new German shorthaired pointer puppy at @hpandthefloofs. (Right) Manchester terrier Maggie Grace at Charlestowne Landing; follow her at @maggiegrace_manchie.

Did someone say walk? Get out of your neighborhood and mix up your routine. There’s a variety of Lowcountry scenery and sniffs to be enjoyed, from bloom-filled gardens and forested paths to waterside boardwalks. 

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens: With its 60 acres of nature trails, the oldest public gardens in America could also be considered one of the area’s most dog-friendly destinations. Leashed dogs are welcome throughout the grounds, filled with thousands of species of flowers and plants to enjoy year-round (check the website for what’s in bloom), and even inside the plantation house, if they can be carried. The petting zoo, gift shop, and tram tours are off-limits to Spot.

Note: The Audubon Swamp Garden is home to many gators, so you’ll want to avoid those paths. 3550 Ashley River Rd., West Ashley. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $29, $15 for children ages six to 12; free for children under five.

West Ashley Greenway: This previous railroad corridor stretches nearly eight miles from Wesley Drive behind South Windermere Shopping Center to Main Road on John’s Island. Traveling west, the Greenway passes through residential neighborhoods and crosses roadways (be sure to look both ways), gradually becoming more rural. The path (it’s mostly shaded but has some stretches of intense sun) starts out paved before turning to dirt and rough gravel with a few narrow bridge crossings, so make sure you and your dog are up for the challenge. Keep your pup close as this is a favorite destination for cyclists, and bring water. The payoff is great scenery, bird watching, and unforgettable views of the wetlands.

Therapy dog-in-training Scout (left) loves the pretty views from the West Ashley Greenway (right); follow him @scout_in_the_lowcountry

Cypress Gardens: Locals have known about this Lowcountry gem forever, but movies like The Notebook made it famous. Nearly four miles of trails wind through its beautiful backdrop of black forest swamp and gardens. The catch is you’ll have to wait til November, as leashed dogs are only allowed in the fall and winter. It’s cooler for them anyway, and the gators are slower. 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd., Moncks Corner. Open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. $10, $6.50 for seniors & military, $5 for children ages six to 17, free for children under 5.

Laurel Hill County Park Trail: Adjacent to the Park West Recreation Complex is a 745-acre site with about five miles of wooded trails, plus large open meadows for a great game of fetch. 1251 Park West Blvd., Mount Pleasant. Open daily, sunrise to sunset. Free.

Charlestowne Landing State Historic Site: With 80 acres of English-style gardens and seven miles of trails, this state park offers plenty of areas to learn and explore with the entire family. In addition to local history (it’s known as the “birthplace of Charleston”), this park is outfitted with WiFi and has become a favorite spot for geocaching. Next time, let Fido join in the treasure hunt. 1500 Old Towne Rd., West Ashley. Daily, 9 a.m. -5 p.m. $12, $7.50 for seniors, $7 for children ages six to 15, free for ages five and under.


Photographs courtesy of @HPandthefloofs & by (Greenway) Dansif, (Scout) Heather Lacy, & (Maggie Grace) K. Helke