January 27, 2019

Dog Friendly Activities on San Juan Island

Dog with San Juan Island Ferry

San Juan Island is not only an excellent place for people to visit, but it is great for your pooch too! From beaches to romp on to dog friendly patios, San Juan Island is a top destination for man’s best friend.

Cora, my three-year-old Australian Shephard, and I have been living and recreating on San Juan Island since she was a wee puppy. Read below for some of our favorite places to explore and relax on San Juan.

Dog walking at gravel pit

1. Walk at The Gravel Pit

While the name might not immediately draw you in, this retired gravel pit is a wonderful place for humans and dogs to walk. Located across from Jackson’s Beach, this abandoned gravel pit has a one-mile loop path that is fenced in except two access points. The loop trail is a well graded, you guessed it, gravel path that offers stunning views of Griffin Bay. Eagles are often spotted overhead and a fox or two may be hiding in the tall grass. Best part about the gravel pit? It is a recognized off leash area! Your pup is free to range as long as he/she is within voice control. If you head out in the mornings, you are likely to run into other dog owners and it’s a treat to watch the dogs run and play. The gravel pit also comes equipped with two pet waste stations that have a trash can and poop bags – so there is no excuse to not clean up after your best friend.

Dog on San Juan Island Beach

2. Go to the Beach

South Beach is one of Cora’s favorite beaches and has plenty of drift wood to occupy her for hours. Cora is not much of a swimmer, but you will often find dogs paddling alongside their human walking down the beach. South Beach is around 2 miles long and makes a great sunny afternoon stroll. When you walk along the south end of San Juan, be sure to keep an eye to the west in search of orca whales. It is not uncommon to see dorsal fins from South Beach or a blow from a humpback!

Hiking on San Juan Island with dog

3. Walk on the trails

All the trails on San Juan are dog friendly and make for great hiking and walking. A few of my favorites are Mt. Finlayson, The Redout Loop, and Young’s Hill. Mt. Finlayson is located at the south end of San Juan Island and is a great 3.5 mile loop trail. The trail starts in the woods, then climbs to the top of a bluff. The last part of the loop is along the ridgeline of the bluff with amazing views of Haro Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the Olympic Peninsula. There are many trails in this area that work off this main loop, so it is easy to spend hours on these hiking paths. The Redout Loop is perfect for pooches wanting to soak in the sunshine. This trail leads you through the grass land of American Camp and offers some of the best views around. Stop at one of the pocket beaches along the way to let your dog play in the water. Young’s Hill is accessed via English Camp and is one of the highest points on San Juan. Taking the main trail gives you a wide path and more direct route, but make sure to check out the other trails leading up to the summit. Young’s Hill has three different trails that take you and your friend to the top for views of Haro Strait and the Canadian Gulf Islands. As always, make sure to abide by any posted leash laws.

Dog enjoying the oyster farm on San Juan Island

4. Visit Westcott Bay Oyster Farm

This place LOVES dogs. Not only do you get to enjoy the best oysters and other shellfish around, but your dog is welcome to dine with you at one of their outside benches. Westcott Bay Oyster Farm is open seasonally and has picnic tables to eat at or you can purchase shellfish to take home. If you are eating there, go mid-week before 4pm to get their BBQed oysters – a treat not to be missed! Don’t have your own dog to take to the oyster farm? No worries, there are farm dogs there that love getting the extra attention from all the visitors.

Dog in tap house on San Juan Island

5. Enjoy a beer

Not much is better than enjoying a cold beverage on a hot day with your best friend. Dogs are welcome on the patio at San Juan Brewery where you can sit at a picnic bench, enjoy a delicious locally brewed beer, and some tasty food. Don’t want to have to sit outside? Look no further than our neighbors at San Juan Safaris, Cease and Desist. Cease and Desist is a tap room offering beers and ciders from around the Pacific Northwest. Your dog is welcome to hang out inside while you enjoy a beer looking out over the Friday Harbor Marina.

6. TAKE OUT A KAYAK

Ever wonder what it would be like to paddle with your four-legged pal? If you are traveling in the summer, stop by our sister location at San Juan Outfitters in Roche Harbor and rent a sit-on-top kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are open faced and stable, making them perfect for smaller dogs or pooches that are good at holding still.

Many businesses on San Juan Island are pet friendly, so do not be afraid to ask!