Barking up the right tree: Reuben’s guide to the dog-eat-dog world outdoors

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It’s tough being a city dog. There is limited green space. Poop resources are difficult to come by—as soon as you poop, humans pick it up and save it for later. (I’m not sure why, but I would guess it’s a scarcity thing.) And you just worry that your human isn’t living up to her full potential when surrounded by concrete.

It’s hard to show your human a good time when you have to worry about them running into the road or getting into scrapes with other people if they’re not human-friendly. That’s why I personally like to take mine hiking whenever possible. It’s good to get her out of the city every once in a while—I don’t have to worry about her squawking at other humans. She can run wild without getting squashed by one of those giant metal squirrels, which I chase ferociously in solidarity with my human. Sometimes I can even get her to stop and smell the poop.

But the kind of hike you choose depends on what kind of human you have. Is she lazy? Fit? Big? Small? Does she have one of those crazy rolling boxes of wonder or are you and your human largely confined to city limits? There’s a hike for everyone, and I’m here to help you figure out where you and your human should spend your Saturday.

Able to get away?

If you’re lucky enough to have a high-speed rolling box like my human, you can sit in it for anywhere from one nap and several manic barking fits to several naps and many manic barking fits, and you’ll end up in a place with trees everywhere. They just kind of pop up, not really sure how, but it sure is amazing. And boy, the hikes you can take your person on.

A hike for the lazy human: Punchbowl Falls, Cascade Locks, Oregon

If your human is a little bit out of shape but still loves nature, this is the hike for you. Punchbowl is on the Eagle Creek Trail, which goes for miles, so if your human is up for it, you can opt to ascend into the forest and hike all day long. Heck, you can even stay overnight if you’ve packed enough food for your person. If not, a short hike leads you to a waterfall and, you guessed it, a bowl-shaped pool in which humans and animals alike swim in the summer months. The water is cold and, in some places, very deep, so be wary of what your human is doing. Just a word of caution: there are points in the trail that are very narrow and overlook a steep drop-off, so keep your human on a leash.

A hike for the fit human: McNeil Point, Mt. Hood, Oregon

This is the first hike I ever took my human on, and she loved it. It has everything: wildflowers, trees, deer, summer snow. The hike starts out in the forest, so you’re shaded by giant trees. You can pee on any of them, and you’ll find that the longer you’re on the trail, the more comfortable with peeing your human will get.

This hike is pretty difficult when it comes to elevation gain. Remember: your human only has two legs, so take it easy on her. Also remember to bring plenty of water. After a certain point, you emerge from the relative cool of the forest onto the base of the mountain. In the summer months, the sun can be a bit unforgiving, and humans don’t have fur, so their skin is easily burned.

Also keep in mind that McNeil Point starts at the Topspur Trailhead, which is a heavily used Timberline Trail access point. So, again, if your human is not people-friendly, keep her on a leash until you get into the woods.

Stuck in the city?

Sometimes you and your human are confined to the city. While it might seem like you’re doomed to pooping on pavement, that’s not the case at all. Portland is home to some of the most beautiful city green spaces in the entire country.

A hike for the lazy human: Mt. Tabor Park

Mount Tabor is an easily accessible network of trails rising out of the relative flat of the east side. If your human is out of shape and can’t escape the city, this is the perfect choice for you. Take a 30 minute walk from bottom to top on one of the many winding trails. Wander around or just lay on the grass for hours at a time. Try to get your human to play frisbee as a low-stakes way of getting her fit.

If your person gets thirsty, there are metal waterfalls and puddles galore. Huge trees keep the park relatively shady and cool, so you don’t have to worry about your person overheating. During the summer, the park is packed, so keep that in mind and keep your human on a leash.

A hike for the fit human: Forest Park

Forest Park is the ultimate getaway while still in the city. You can access it from several points along the edge of Northwest Portland, and in mere minutes you’ll forget all the concrete and people. There are easy trails that meander along by the zoo and Rose Garden, two popular spots for humans to gather.

But if you take the Wildwood Trail starting by the zoo, you can follow it for up to 30 miles. That’s a day or two of sniffing and peeing. The elevation gain isn’t crazy, but it’s enough distance for your bipedal best friend to fall exhausted into bed at the end of the day.

Whether your human is able to climb mountains or just needs an easy walk off the beaten path, you can do it all. And I think we all know that there’s nothing better than a tired human at the end of the day.

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