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A Guide to Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails and Parks in Gilroy

Looking for some fun outdoor adventures you can share with your dog? Plan a getaway to Gilroy, California and find plenty of dog-friendly parks and hiking trails to explore.

Be sure to also check out our blogs on Stay Happy: A Guide to Dog-Friendly Restaurants and Wineries in Gilroy – Visit Gilroy and Stay Happy: A Guide to Dog-Friendly Places to Stay in Gilroy – Visit Gilroy. With so many great restaurants, wineries, shops, and other attractions, there’s too much to do in just one day!

Hiking in Gilroy with Your Dog

For you outdoor enthusiasts, we have great dog-friendly hiking options in the Gilroy area.

Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch

Coyote Lake-Harvey Bear Ranch County Park contains 6,695 acres of recreational area, with 449 acres of Coyote Lake, when it is at capacity. It is a dog-friendly county park with 35 miles of trails for you and your dog to explore. You can also camp here with your dog.

For a leisurely walk with your dog on a paved trail, the Martin Murphy Loop is the perfect choice. It is an easy 2.2-mile stroll that still offers beautiful views of the Diablo Mountains, along with wildlife and cows in the fields nearby. You will share the path with families, strollers, and even bikes or horses. This trail is located off E. San Martin Ave. at the Harvey Bear Entrance on the left, just .25 miles east of Foothill Ave. Parking is free, and there are porta-potties and some picnic tables, too.

Black and brown cows walking on a green hillside

For a more moderate hike, try the Coyote Ridge Trail/Mendoza Trail Loop. If you and your dog are used to moderate hikes, this one is a 3.9-mile loop with beautiful views of wildflowers (in spring) and wildlife, including deer, birds, turkey, boars, along with local cows. Be careful to keep your dog on leash for the entire hike and watch closely for any wildlife your dog may be tempted to interact with. From the top, there are gorgeous views of Coyote Lake.  The trail also includes some nice shady spots along the way for you and your dog to rest and take a water break. The hike does have an incline, but the trail is quite smooth and well-maintained, which makes it manageable. To get here, you can enter via the Mendoza Ranch Entrance and park near the beginning of the trail. This entrance is off Roop Rd. in Gilroy.

EXPLORE MORE: To find even more dog-friendly trail options in this amazing park, go to AllTrails.com or the Santa Clara County Parks website.

Mount Madonna County Park

Mount Madonna County Park is a redwood-filled enchanted forest in the Santa Cruz Mountains between Gilroy and Watsonville. It is about 11 miles from downtown Gilroy, and the drive takes just over 20 minutes on Highway 152 West. All the trails in Mount Madonna County Park are dog-friendly, and there are 20 miles of trails total. If a walk through the forest with your beloved dog is what you are seeking, then this is right choice for you. Due to the higher altitude, the coastal climate, and the many trees offering shade, it can be very cool in Mount Madonna Park. This mild climate makes it a wonderful choice for a hike on a warmer day.

You can choose a simple, one-mile hike with your dog, which will take you past the summer house ruins of the former cattle king, Henry Miller. You can explore these up close, and kids often enjoy playing in this area. You and your dog can also explore more ethereal trails through the majestic redwoods.

If you and your dog have endurance on your side, try another incredible, lush hiking trail called Sprig Lake Trail in Mount Madonna Park. The entire trail is an 8.2-mile loop, with some shorter portions you can take as well. Most of the path is through dense forest, and you and your dog can relish this wonderful nature experience. The trail is moderate, with some steeper parts along the way. There is one more undeveloped area along the Sprig Lake Trail. Contrary to the name, there is no longer a Sprig Lake, as years ago the manmade lake was turned back into the stream that it was originally. This path through the woods will not disappoint.

EXPLORE MORE: Mount Madonna is also dog-friendly for campers. For reservations and more information, visit the Santa Clara County Parks website.

Uvas Canyon County Park

Uvas Canyon County Park is a local favorite, with seven miles of hiking trails for you and your dog. You can take your pup on a forest hike through diverse trees and vegetation and view several modest waterfalls.

The Waterfall Loop is the perfect moderate, one-mile hike for some gorgeous scenery, as you pass the waterfalls and Swanson Creek. Keep in mind there are some hilly spots and loose dirt areas, so be sure you come prepared for those with your canine friend. There are several other trail options that are longer that also include the Waterfall Loop.

Walking trail with trees and green plants

The best time to visit and enjoy the waterfalls is after the rainy season—late winter or early spring. The water levels can be exceptionally low in dry seasons or during droughts. Not only is this a beautiful spot, but it also offers camping, with up to two dogs allowed per campsite. Be sure to pack food and water and allow some time to drive to the location, since it is in the foothills of the eastern side of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Day pass reservations may be required; check GoOutsideandPlay.org for details.

Dog-Friendly Parks in Gilroy

If you are staying in Gilroy or passing through and just need to get your dog out for some exercise, visit one of our city parks. There are a variety of dog-friendly city parks in Gilroy to choose from, including a designated dog park, ones with hiking trails, and wide-open spaces with grass and short, paved paths.

Hecker Pass Dog Park in Gilroy

Hecker Pass Park is a newer park in Gilroy and features a designated dog park. There is a small parking lot adjacent to the park. The dog section has a generous, fenced-in space with plenty of grass for your dog to run around and a paved path through it. (Please remember to read all the rules posted before entering, including staying with your dog while in the fenced area, as well as having the leash on you.)

There is a convenient water fountain for people and dogs just by the entrance, and there are dog waste bags, as well. The best thing about this space is the view! While your dog is having fun running around, you can gaze directly at an unobstructed view of the Gabilan Mountains.

If you want to extend your time outside and get some more exercise, there is a convenient bike/jogging path right next to the dog park. To get to Hecker Pass Park, take 3rd St. west for about one-half mile from Santa Teresa Blvd. It will be on the left after you pass two roundabouts, staying on 3rd St. Address: 1798 Third St.

Christmas Hill Park

If you are looking for a park with beautiful trees, large grass areas, some shady spaces, and some trails, too, visit Christmas Hill Park. This scenic park boasts 57 acres of open space, hilly trails, and the seasonal Uvas Creek. It also has park benches and several tables with BBQ grills, and two playground spaces for different age groups. If that is not enough, there is a paved jogging/bike path next to the park. There are also restrooms available. Visit Christmas Hill Park with your dog at 7050 Miller Avenue.

Sunrise Park and Carriage Hills Park

On the northwest side of Gilroy, there are two lovely parks in local neighborhoods that are dog-friendly and family-friendly. They both offer a short, paved walking path and open grass areas, along with basketball courts. Sunrise Park has eight acres of space and is on level ground. Carriage Hills Park is a similar size but is set more in the foothills, and the paved jogging path has an incline. Both offer some benches and covered table areas, so you can bring your dog, your kids, and your lunch. Sunrise Park is located at 9525 Saddler Drive, and Carriage Hills Park is at 1701 Crest Hill Way.

Gilroy Sports Park

If you just want a huge, open grass area for your dog to run and play, Gilroy Sports Park is the perfect choice! There is also a half-mile paved jogging path that runs around the perimeter of the entire 79 acres of the park. This park contains several baseball fields that host games in season, so keep in mind it can be busy on evenings and weekends, especially in the spring. However, there is still plenty of open grass area next to the sports fields for your dog (and kids) to run and play. There are playgrounds for younger and older children, some shade-covered tables for hotter days, and restrooms. This park is just off Highway 101 at the Monterey exit on the south end of town: 5925 Monterey Frontage.

The Uvas Creek “Levee” Jogging & Biking Path

“The Levee” is a nickname that locals use to refer to a paved jogging/biking path that runs from the Gilroy Sports Park all the way to Hecker Pass Highway/Highway 152. It is about four miles long, and there are many beautiful spots along the path, including views of Christmas Hill Park and Uvas Creek (dry in summer and fall seasons) and the Gabilan Mountains. You can park at the Gilroy Sports Park and start your journey right at the beginning, or you can hop on somewhere farther down. Other great spots to set foot on the trail are from Christmas Hill Park or the Hecker Pass Park (more details in previous paragraphs), which both offer parking lots conveniently located nearby. Wherever you choose to begin on the Levee path, just remember to stay to the right, as it allows a comfortable space for oncoming pedestrians or bicyclists to pass, as well as faster traffic from behind to go around you. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the paved path. And, of course, keep your dog safely on its leash while you enjoy your outing.

A couple walking their dog on a sunny day

We hope you enjoyed this introduction to some of the best hiking trails and parks to enjoy with your dog in Gilroy! Stop by the California Welcome Center Gilroy in the Gilroy Premium Outlets (near Forever 21) to find maps, brochures, and everything you need to plan your great Gilroy getaway—plus fun souvenirs of your trip to Gilroy and the Golden State. Learn more at VisitGilroy.com.