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Four dog-friendly Rochester adventures

Four dog-friendly Rochester adventures

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Med City Beat in fall 2017.

Perhaps you’re a brand new dog owner. Or maybe you’ve had a pup for years but you’re new to Rochester and unsure about pet-friendly locations to play. Whatever the case may be, I bet your four-legged friend would love to be included in your next adventures! Here are four local dog-friendly suggestions for an afternoon of canine delight (bonus: they’re all free). 

Hiking at Quarry Hill Park

Two parking options: the Quarry Hill Nature Center at 701 Silver Creek Road NE or in the lot at 2100 9th Street NE

There are more than eight miles of trails around Quarry Hill Park! As long as your pup is on a leash, she or he is welcome to join you. The 329-acre property was once home to the Rochester State Hospital. It is now maintained by the Friends of Quarry Hill Nature Center and Rochester Park and Recreation. 

Whether your furry friend prefers grasslands, oak savannas, or paved trails, all sorts of terrain options are available at Quarry Hill Park. Be sure to take bug spray and wear proper footwear. Some of the hikes can get pretty steep.

Hiking at Quarry Hill / Photo by Emily Carson

Hiking at Quarry Hill / Photo by Emily Carson

Maps of all the trail areas are available online.

River Road Dog Park

West River Road NW - north of 62nd Street NW

Rochester Parks and Recreation maintains specific guidelines for their off-leash dog parks. Be sure to read these before entering the park and ensure you and your pup are fully prepared. The rules are posted outside River Road Dog Park and Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park.

River Road Dog Park is Rochester’s newest location for doggy socializing (map here). It is a spacious grassy area surrounded by cornfields on one side and community gardens on the other. Depending on where you live in the city, it may be a bit of a trek to get out there, but the journey is worth it. 

The park is split into with three individual sections. While most of the space is open grassland, there are a few picnic tables for the humans. There is also a big multi-level log feature for pups who like to climb. Please note, you’ll need to remember your own water and dog dish as there is not a faucet or pump at the park. 

Mayowood Trail

Parking available at the intersection of Mayowood Road SW and Arrowhead Lane SW

Rochester has an extensive and well-maintained paved trail system used by walkers, runners, and bikers alike. The Mayowood Trail is one specific section and exists in the area surrounding the historic Mayowood Mansion (map here).

Mayowood Trail / Photo by Emily Carson

Mayowood Trail / Photo by Emily Carson

This trail is great for dogs and humans who prefer a paved walking experience. That being said, more adventurous canines may prefer some of the unpaved pathways in the neighboring Zumbro South Park. Just be sure to keep your friend on a leash as you explore. 

The Zumbro River runs along a large section of the 3.6-mile Maywood Trail. A wide variety of birds, mammals, and bugs are likely to be seen. In the early springtime, this trail is also home to a massive array of flowering bluebells. It is breathtaking!

Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park

Pinewood Road SE - north of Pinewood Elementary School

The final stop on this non-exhaustive list is the Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park. When you initially pull into the parking lot, you may be slightly underwhelmed. It appears to be a relatively small space, but don’t let first impressions fool you. The park stretches back into an expansive wooded area. But be warned, the park isn’t fully fenced. 

Highlights of this dog park include play equipment, two fenced areas, a picnic table and shelter, and a large creek for summer splashing. 

A few words of guidance to help you and your furry pal get ready for this park. Since the park isn’t fenced on all sides, be sure to consult the map and familiarize yourself with the layout of the space before you go. The wooded section of the park gets buggy. Bring spray. 

Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park / Photo by Emily Carson

Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park / Photo by Emily Carson

Also, depending on the weather conditions on the days surrounding your visit, you could be bringing home a very dirty, happy dog. The front end of the park contains a lot of dust, and it can get very muddy when wet. The creek adds to the mess potential so pack a towel. 

Rochester is a great community for pets and humans. Take your dog along on your next adventure and let us know about your pup’s favorite local trails and parks. 

Emily Carson is a curator of curiosity. She loves exploring southeastern Minnesota with her husband, Justin, and their Redbone Coonhound, Finn. In addition to her work as a local columnist and communications professional, she is also an ordained Lutheran pastor. Find Emily on Twitter and Instagram at @emilyannecarson and on her website

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