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Best Parks To Walk Your Dog In The North Bay

(credit: Wikimedia Commons)

North Bay counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano offer location options for dog walks, runs, and doggie socializing, with Sonoma County being the leader in dog-friendly spaces. Read on to find five of the best spots to walk your dog in the North Bay.

Marin Headlands
Visitor Center
948 Fort Barry
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-1540 Located at the southern end of Marin County, the Marin Headlands is a 12,000-acre peninsula north of San Francisco, just over the Golden Gate Bridge. The Headlands is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and has a lot going for it. With fantastic views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco's distinctive skyline, the Marin Headlands has wildlife, historic military sites and the 150-year-old Point Bonita lighthouse. 

This is a wonderful area for dog walkers, but be sure to stay on the dog-friendly trails to avoid a ticket, as this is Marin County and its residents take their cherished open space pretty seriously. There are three areas for dog walkers: 
1) Coastal Trail from the Golden Gate Bridge to junction with Wolf Ridge Trail, 2) Loop Trail from Rodeo Beach parking lot up Coastal Trail paved road (Old Bunker Road) near Battery Townsley and return to Rodeo Beach on paved road, and 3) Wolf Ridge Loop (Coastal Trail to Wolf Ridge Trail; Wolf Ridge Trail to Miwok Trail; Miwok Trail back down to Coastal Trail).A bonus for pets under strict voice control is they can walk leash-free. Dogs can also run free on Rodeo Beach, where it's legal to get rid of the leash. Drop into the visitor center on the way to the beach to pick up a map and get details on where you can legally go with your dog. Be sure to bring a jacket, as weather gets foggy and windy up here, and don't forget some water for you and your pooch.
Russian River Region and State Parks
Sonoma County, CA The Russian River Region in Sonoma County is a dog-friendly area with lodging, parks, beaches and canoe and kayak rental companies that welcome dogs. State Parks permit leashed dogs on roads and open areas, but not on trails. Beaches that allow leashed dogs along the Sonoma Coast are Marshall Gulch, Schoolhouse Beach, Portuguese Beach, Duncan's Cove, Wright's Beach, Shell Beach and Blind Beach. For Sonoma County beach locations, click here. All Regional Parks allow leashed dogs. Find Sonoma County Regional Parks here.

Pet Friendly Napa Valley

Napa County is synonymous with bucolic scenery, wonderful wines, fine food and the all-around good life Northern California and the area is known for. There is no need to give up your winery jaunts or even wine tastings, as numerous tasting rooms and patios of the valley's famous restaurants welcome dogs along with their owners when they visit. Starting downtown, you will find most of two-dozen tasting rooms and restaurant patios pretty pet-friendly. Continuing up-valley, dozens more of approximately 100 Napa Valley wineries open their tasting room doors and picnic areas to dogs. Check here for some dog-friendly Napa wineries.

Beyond the wineries are nature areas that make taking a walk with your pooch possible. The Lake Berryessa region is rural, wild and natural with abundant hiking opportunities, and San Pablo Bay seems a world away from the valley's rolling hills and vineyards. On-leash dogs are allowed in Napa County Parks and on trails, and there are more than 48 parks that cover over 800 acres of park land, so there's no reason not to take your dog out for an invigorating walk or pleasant stroll. Check here for several dog friendly trails in Napa County.

Related: Best Dog Parks On The Peninsula

Elizabeth Perrone Dog Park
Sonoma Valley Regional Park
13630 Sonoma Highway
Glen Ellen, CA 95442
(707) 539-8092 While most state and county parks allow you to take your dog anywhere on a leash, dogs are not allowed within Sonoma city limits, including Sonoma Plaza, a popular destination for tourists and residents. To the rescue is the Elizabeth Perron Dog Park in Sonoma Valley Regional Park. This fully fenced one-acre dog park within Sonoma Valley Regional Park features a double-gated entry, a drinking fountain just for dogs and a gazebo that provides shade in the hot Sonoma sun. The park opens at 8 a.m. and closes at sunset. A fee of $7 per vehicle is required for day use. Find additional dog-friendly Sonoma trails here.
Lagoon Valley Park
4681 Pena Adobe Road
Vacaville, CA 95696 Lagoon Valley Park is a lovely 470-acre park that includes the historic Pena Adobe home plus barbecue pits, a horseshoe pit, bike trails, terrific hiking, a small pond and Lagoon Valley Lake for fishing and non-motorized boating. Dog owners are welcomed here when walking with their pooch on a leash. Also here is a 30,000-square-foot fenced-in, off-leash dog park with shade, water and trash containers. There is a $3 entry fee, although visitors say you can park outside of the gate and walk into the park without a problem. Look here for dog-friendly trails in Solano County.Related: Best Dog Parks In San Francisco
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at
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