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Dog-friendly fun in the Highland Lakes

When packing dog supplies, don’t forget a few towels. Both you and your dog are going to want to take a dip in the water when visiting the Highland Lakes.

Bring your canine companion when you visit the Highland Lakes, a pet-friendly destination with plenty of places to play and stay for both two-legged and four-legged creatures. Many of the hiking trails, wineries, restaurants, and hotels allow non-service animals to come along for an adventure with their humans.

Let’s start with the outdoors, the biggest draw to the Highland Lakes area for most vacationers. Inks Lake State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, Colorado Bend State Park, and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area are all open to pets — with restrictions. Dogs must be kept under control at all times on a 6-foot or shorter leash.

“Inks Lake (State Park) is definitely dog-friendly, and we see many of them leading their owners around each weekend,” Park Superintendent Cory Evans said. “All our trails and day-use areas are pet-friendly and great places to let them get some exercise.”

Also, all state parks require you to pick up after your pooch. If you forget to bring waste bags to Inks Lake State Park, you can find pet stations at the park headquarters and major trailheads. At Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, you can hike with your dog everywhere except on the Summit Trail, a trek to the top of the rock.

Check with each park for particular rules or guidelines for dogs and pets.

Another favorite destination for dog lovers is Canyon of the Eagles, located on the northeast shore of Lake Buchanan. Along with great overnight accommodations, Canyon of the Eagles has about 14 miles of hiking trails to explore. Check with staff when you arrive to see if any of the trails are closed due to endangered species protection. Canyon of the Eagles is a habitat location for the golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo.

Other parks include the long list of Lower Colorado River Authority and municipal parks across the Highland Lakes, which you can find online. The city of Marble Falls has two great, pet-friendly locations. Ruff Dog Park at Westside Park is an enclosed area where you and your dog can run free. At Johnson Park behind the waterfall, dogs have a leash-free zone where they can play along Backbone Creek.

Once you’re done running around off leash, you can go for a walk along the hike-and-bike trail, which connects Lakeside, Johnson, and Westside parks. Just be sure to keep your dog on a leash, and please pick up after them.

After all that hiking and playing, it’s time to grab a bite to eat.

Pet-friendly wineries include Flat Creek Estate, Ab Astris, Becker Vineyards, Blue Lotus Winery, Fall Creek Vineyards, Hye Meadow Winery, KFire Winery and Vineyard, Kuhlman Cellars, Pedernales Cellars, Perissos Vineyard and Winery, and Spicewood Vineyards. This is by no means a complete list, just a taste. Many more Highland Lakes wineries can be found online. Check with each regarding dog policies before heading out.

If you’re more of a beer hound, both Pecan Street Brewing in Johnson City and Save the World Brewing Co. in Marble Falls welcome dogs. Pecan Street has a pet-friendly biergarten.

Several restaurants with outdoor seating areas, such as Rae’s Bar and Grill (also known as R-Bar) in downtown Marble Falls, welcome dogs. R-Bar provides doggie water bowls, snacks, and even doggie menu items.

You and your dog are now walked, fed, and watered — time to find a place to sleep. You’ll need to check each location for specific restrictions, but quite a few hotels and lodges are pet-friendly, including Bella Vista on Lake Travis, Best Western Marble Falls Inn, La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Marble Falls, and Valentine Lakeside in Kingsland.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab the leash, load up the water bowls and snacks (for both you and your pooch), and head to the Highland Lakes.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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