Pemberwick Park

Corner of Pemberwick Road & Moshier Street
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Pemberwick-Park-21

Activities: Walking, Hiking, Dog Socializing, Off Leash

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: A parking lot off Pemberwick Rd. was recently added. The meadow in the back is used by many local residents as an “unofficial off-leash area,” but this is not technically allowed and the field is not fenced.

Pemberwick park is our “home park.” We live a short walk away visit it frequently. The main portion of the park is comprised of a large baseball and soccer field adjacent to an enclosed basketball and tennis courts.

The charm of this park are its less visited trails and large meadow. As mentioned in the notes, the meadow located in the back of the park, past the playground along Pemberwick Road, is the local unofficial off-leash dog park. Many nearby residents take their dogs their early in the morning for a quick run. It’s important to note however that the only fence is along the busy road and it is in very poor shape with many breaks. If you intend to let your dog run here, please be sure you have it under good voice control and it’s common courtesy to use a leash if other people are present.

There are trails that run behind the fields and all the way to Weaver Street where there is a second small park. Despite the modest size (around 8 acres), this little wood is very lovely and quiet with a babbling brook running through the middle.

Mianus River Park

Greenwich Entrance:
450 Cognewaugh Rd
Cos Cob, CT 06807

Stamford Entrance:
Merribrook Lane
Stamford, CT 06902

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Mianus-River-Natural-Park-19
https://www.stamfordct.gov/city-parks/pages/mianus-river-park
http://www.friendsofmianusriverpark.org/

Activities: Hiking, Walking, Dog Socializing

Last Visit: 2018

Notes: While many people let their dogs off leash in the park, be aware this practice is discouraged and Stamford has a dog warden / police officer that regularly patrols the park issuing warnings and tickets.

Nestled on the Greenwich-Stamford border just below the Merritt Parkway, the trio of parks (Greenwich, Stamford and State owned) together make up one of the largest wilderness spaces in the area. There are nearly 400 acres filled with a variety of trails – from wide carriage roads to narrow hiking paths. There is a little something for everyone… which means dogs owners should be extra careful as they are sharing the park with hikers, mountain bikers and the occasional horseback rider!

If you plan on exploring more than just the carriage roads, bring sturdy boots as some of the trails can get quite muddy in the spring. Also, don’t forget the bug repellent as the lowlands are a bit marshy.

Greenwich Avenue, The Common & Havemeyer Field

290 Greenwich Avenue
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Havemeyer-Field-Greenwich-Common-15

Activities: Walking, Dog Socializing

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: I recommend parking in the “Benedict South Lot” on the corner of Benedict Pl. and Lewis St. towards the top of The Avenue. There is no charge for parking after 5PM and on Sundays.

“Walking The Aveneue” is one of my favorite winter-time activities with the dog. When the sun sets early and the streets become dangerous or snow-covered, Greenwich Avenue provides a safe and pleasant place to walk… especially around Christmas when the stores and the town decorate the street (budgets permitting).

That’s not to say spring, summer or fall visits shouldn’t be made! Many stores are dog friendly and several even regularly provide water and treats (Orvis and Marmot often have doggy snacks on hand for four-legged visitors). And on warm evenings the avenue is lined with diners eating al fresco, meaning there is often wonderful things for the dogs to sniff at.

Smack in the middle of The Avenue is Greenwich Common, a recently renovated and lovely little park that is joined to Havemeyer Field. The Field is a large ball field with a track surrounding it. Many people let their dogs off-leash in this area, though it is technically not permitted.

Both along the avenue and in the adjoining parks you are destine to run into other friendly dogs and owners. My dog, however, is far more interested in the bunnies that populate St. Mary’s Church yard and Greenwich Common.

If you want a longer walking route, you can easily loop down through Roger Sherman Baldwin Park and walk along the water to the boardwalk behind The Delamar Hotel. If you’re really feeling energetic, walk all the way down Steamboat Road – there is a beautiful (and newly restored) pier at the end.

Croton Point Park

1 Croton Point Ave
Croton-On-Hudson, NY 10520

Website: https://parks.westchestergov.com/croton-point-park

Activities: Walking, hiking

Last Visit: 2018

Notes: Parking fees charged May – September, see website for details.

500+ acres of mostly manicured park jutting out into the Hudson River. There are many trails through the (smallish) wooded areas and scenic paths along the river. It gets quite crowded during the summer and there are often festivals or cultural events held there. Like Sherwood Island State park, there is also a small runway for model aircraft.

Croton Gorge Park & The New Croton Dam

35 Yorktown Rd
Cortlandt, NY 10520

Website: https://parks.westchestergov.com/croton-gorge-park

Activities: Hiking, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Parking fee required May – September.

This is a lovely park with a large open area popular with picnickers surrounded by wide and well maintained hiking trails through the woods. The loop that goes up and over the dam is highly recommended.

As with some of the other parks on this list, the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail is adjacent (I believe it originates here) and I recommend hiking it for a while as it runs along some scenic high-ground.

Bar Harbor, Maine & Acadia National Park *RECOMMENDED*

Hulls Cove Visitor Center
Route 3
Bar Harbor, ME 04609

Website: https://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/pets.htm

Activities: Hiking, walking, dog swimming

Last Visit: 2017

Notes: Beaches in Maine and Acadia National Park are open to dogs mid-September through mid-May. Check the town or Park Service websites for more info.

Acadia National Park bills itself as one of the few dog-friendly National Parks. Neighboring Bar Harbor also has a reputation as a dog-lover’s Mecca. Neither disappointed.

We decided to take a vacation our dog could join us on and settled for Acadia and Bar Harbor. We love hiking and exploring with our mutt and this seemed like the perfect destination. With a little planning and research we found activities and destinations for the entire trip that were all dog friendly.

We headed out in mid-September when the beaches in Maine and the National Park were closed to swimmers but open to dogs. In addition, the summer crowds had thinned substantially and prices were cheaper. Traveling in “shoulder season” has it’s perks. The weather was perfect: high 70’s during the day, cool-crisp evenings perfect for sitting by the fire pit.

The drive is long but can be broken up with stops at many of Maine’s picturesque sea-side towns. Many had coastal walking trails or great little downtown shopping areas (though some were a bit tourist-y). We made stops in York, Ogunquit, Kittery, Freeport and Kennebunkport.

Bar Harbor is, as mentioned, super dog friendly. We had no issues finding a hotel that allows pets. Most restaurants have outdoor seating on a patio or deck where you can eat with your dog. There was even a dog-themed coffee shop.

The park and the surrounding islands are filled with miles upon miles of trails for hiking or walking – including the famous carriage roads. You can test your dog’s sea-legs on one of the mail boats that goes between Northeast Harbor and the Cranberry Islands. And, if you go off season, there are some amazing beaches to stroll down.

Not to be missed: Stopping at Jordan Pond House Restaurant inside the park for one of their world-famous pop-overs. There is outdoor seating that is dog-friendly. Lollipop lucked out the day we visited: it was windy and a tray of pop-overs got blown onto the ground. The servers split them up among the many happy visiting dogs.

Not to be missed: Sunrise on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Due to fog / overcast weather, it took us three pre-dawn trips, but on the last day it cleared and was spectacular. Get there well before sunrise as it gets quite crowded at the summit parking area.

Cos Cob Park

22 Sound Shore Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Cos-Cob-Park-9

Activities: Walking, dog socializing

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: Dogs should be kept off the turf fields and playgrounds.

This is a beautiful new park with wonderful facilities. A popular destination for dog walkers with great views of the Long Island Sound. Built on the location of an early 20th Century power station for the adjacent railroad (you can read about the history in the restroom pavilion) the town spent a great deal of money remediating and re-purposing the site.

You are likely to run into many other friendly dogs and their owners and you wind your way around the trail that loops the park. Don’t miss Greenwich’s 9/11 memorial which sits atop a tranquil hill overlooking the park and the Sound.

Taylor Farm Dog Park (Calf Pasture Beach)

Calf Pasture Beach Rd
Norwalk, CT 06855

Website: ???

Activities: Walking, off leash, dog swimming

Last Visit: 2015

Notes: On our last visit the off leash area was mostly unfenced and uncomfortably close to traffic.

Admittedly it has been a long time since we visited here, but we had a negative experience and never returned. The off leash area is large and beautiful – with a big pond at one end dogs could swim in, a rolling meadow in the middle and some woods along the north side.

Unfortunately, the lack of fencing and surrounding busy streets lead to some issues (the day we were there even the streets through the park were busy and traffic tended to move uncomfortably fast through them).

The final issue was the adjacent picnic area – some unfortunate young souls tried to have a bbq which every dog in the vicinity immediately swarmed as soon as the meat hit the grill.

All told, it was not a very relaxing off leash dog experience. We left fairly quickly and made the trip to Cranbury Park which was much more enjoyable for us.

I will make it a point to re-vist this location in the near future to see if conditions have improved.

Greenwich Dog Park & Grass Island

Grass Island Road
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Grass-Island-Dog-Park-12
https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Grass-Island-13

Activities: Off leash, dog socializing, dog swimming, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Please review Dog Park rules here. Keep an eye on your dog – both to pickup waste and to make sure he or she doesn’t start digging. The park is built on top of an artificial berm that was made with construction rubble and trash in the mid-20th Century. Dogs that dig may turn up broken glass, porcelain or re-bar.

The Greenwich Dog Park at Grass Island was our first dog park experience and we have many happy memories here.

Yes, the dog park is dirty.
Yes, the dog park is too small.
Yes, it’s built on top of a literal hill of 50 year old garbage.
Yes, it overlooks the sewage treatment plant (though it rarely smells too bad…)

But this dog park has heart! Most people you meet here are super friendly and sociable. There is also a dedicated group of volunteers that spruces the place up and lobbies the towns for improvements.

There is a large dog and a small dog side. Bags are provided, as is water in the summer (a spigot is located by the front gate) and usually an assortment of balls and toys. There are several benches to sit on inside the dog run.

Behind the dog park are some trails leading down to the water by the boat club. You can walk all the way around the loop that takes you to a scenic point at the tip of the marina. Be careful of fishermen.

Many people take their dogs for a quick dip (to cool off or wash off) after a visit to the dog park. You can either do this in the park area by the boat club or at the boat-launch in the marina.

PS. Remember to bring bug spray in the summer!

PPS. Here’s a tip… can’t get tickets to the Greenwich Town Party? You can get great views from both the Grass Island Marina and the Dog Park!

Byram Park & Byram Beach

4 Ritch Ave W.
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Byram-Park-6
https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Byram-Park-Beach-68

Activities: Walking, Dog swimming

Last Visit: 2021

Notes: Open to dogs Dec 1 – March 31.

We rarely go here, it’s fairly small compared to the other beaches nearby (Tod’s Point and Playland). We did see some off-leash dogs on the beach on our visits, but it doesn’t seem well suited to it and may not be advisable. The surrounding park is nice for walking.

If you do go, don’t miss the statue of Greenwich’s first police dog, “Yogi.”

4th of July Fireworks at Binney Park

Binney Park
Old Greenwich, CT

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/493/Special-Events-Concerts

Activities: Dog socializing, walking

Last Visit: July, 2019

Notes: Usually held on July 3rd. Like the Summer Concert Series, town recommends against bringing pets – but there doesn’t seem to be a problem with well behaved dogs attending.

Ok, this one might be a little controversial (I did get a rather rude comment from someone one year), but if you know your dog is non-reactive to fireworks, then this can be a great event to attend together.

We learned fairly early on that our pupper is not bothered one bit by fireworks, thunder or the vacuum cleaner – the typical dog phobias (she is, however, terrified of the printer… go figure). We started bringing her to the Binney Park 4th of July fireworks every year.

It’s always a wonderful time, we walk around while the band plays patriotic music and then settle in for the show. We tend to stay towards the back of the park just so the fireworks aren’t right over-head and deafening.

We usually see a few other dogs in attendance, but if your dog prefers human attention over other canines, you can be sure they’ll get plenty.

Again – this is NOT the event for every dog. Be very sure of how your dog will react, take precautions and have a plan before attending. If you have a dog that doesn’t mind the noise and you build in a nice long walk, this is sure to be a good time.

Bruce Park

Bruce Park Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Bruce-Park-5

Activities: Walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Parking along streets that cut through the park.

Bruce Park is a large and beautiful park. Like Binney, it is well manicured and lovely for strolling. The paths are mostly paved and fairly flat except for a little trail that takes you to a small lookout across from the croquet court. There are several drinking fountains spread around the park.

One of our favorite spring and summer traditions is to bring coffee from home and arepas and pastry from the Colombian bakery in Port Chester and eat them in Bruce Park at the benches overlooking the pond.

Binney Park

Off Sound Beach Ave.
Old Greenwich, CT

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Binney-Park-4

Activities: Walking

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: 4th of July Fireworks and Greenwich Summer Concerts (Sundays) are held here.

Binney Park is one of Greenwich’s premier parks (along with Bruce and Greenwich Point). In contrast to the Back Country preserves, this is a highly manicured and landscaped park similar to Bruce, although there is a very small section of trails across the street from the Perrot library.

It is a lovely place to stroll, with a scenic path around the pond and – when not in use – large fields at the south end of the park (where there are bathrooms and a drinking fountain).

Saxon Woods Park

Website: https://parks.westchestergov.com/saxon-woods-park

Activities: Hiking, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Technically a Westchester County Park Pass is required but we have never had an issue in the off-season. Parking fee for picnic area only, May through September.

A 700 Acre park (including an 18 hole golf course) on the Mamaroneck / Scarsdale border that is conveniently located off the Hutchinson River Parkway. Despite being in a heavily suburban area the woods are surprisingly deep and quiet here. We typically visit in the fall / winter to avoid parking fees and crowds at the pool area.

PS – There is a wonderful mini-golf course by the pool where my father, brother and I used to battle it out in some highly competitive games.

Kitchawan Preserve

712 Kitchawan Rd.
Ossining, NY 10562

Website: https://parks.westchestergov.com/kitchawan-preserve
https://www.yorktownny.org/community/kitchawan-preserve

Activities: Hiking, walking

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: Visited on a busy weekend and ran into a lot of people ignoring the leash law – so unfortunately it could be a problem for reactive dogs.

This is a very nice park – great variety of terrain; from hilly paths through the woods to a long paved “rails-to-trails” section of the North County Trailway that includes a scenic bridge over the Croton Reservoir.

As mentioned in the notes – we visited on a fairly busy day, parking was overflowing (we parked on an embankment on the side of the road) and the paved paths were crowded, but once we got out into the woods it emptied out.

This is certainly worth the trip, we did a 4.5 mile loop and there was still quite a bit left to see.

Greenwich Point Park (Tod’s Point) *RECOMMENDED*

Tods Driftway
Old Greenwich, CT

Website: https://www.greenwichct.gov/facilities/facility/details/Greenwich-Point-Park-69

Activities: Walking, dog swimming, dog socializing, off leash

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Open to dogs Dec 1 – March 31. Leash required inside the park except on the beach (up to high-water mark). *PARK CLOSED TO DOGS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 2019-2020 DOG SEASON DUE TO RACCOON-BASED DISTEMPER OUTBREAK!*

Greenwich Point Park is considered the crown jewel of Greenwich’s parks. 147 acres of beautiful park land with a large beach at one end and walking a path with spectacular views of New York City at the other.

Leash-laws are a controversial issue at the park. There is no question that you must leash your dog inside the park, in the parking lots and on the walking paths, as with any other park in Greenwich. It is not uncommon to see the town’s ACO there, so please be a responsible owner and use a leash anywhere off the beach. On the beach itself is less clear. The town posts signs implying leashes are required, but even when the ACO is there very few people leash their dogs on the sand (below the high-tide mark) and there doesn’t seem to be any enforcement.

One thing to note: on unusually warm weekend days you should expect a large crowd, which can mean running into lots of pups that have been exposed to varying levels of socialization and a similar mix of owners. It’s important to maintain your situational awareness on days like that and don’t expect other dog owners to be monitoring their puppers as closely as maybe they should be. Full disclosure: our dog was bitten there and the owner made great haste to leave the scene, sticking us with a $650 emergency vet bill. That said – we still regularly return!

Lake Mohegan Open Space *RECOMMENDED*

960 Morehouse Hwy
Fairfield, CT

Website: https://www.fairfieldct.org/openspace/lakemohegan
https://www.facebook.com/groups/207768065991175/

Activities: Dog swimming, hiking, dog socializing, walking, off leash

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Off leash dogs permitted on trails and in the lake outside of the “100-foot” zones surrounding the parking lots.

This is truly a gem worth the trip. 170 acres of trails surround a brook that flows through a scenic cascade into a beautiful man-made lake. Easily accessible off the Meritt Parkway, you can park at either end of the lake though I recommend the paved lot close to the main beach (dogs not allowed but they do let you use their bathrooms). From there you can access easy paths to the popular dog-spots on the East side of the lake.

There are a few hazards to be aware of. First, the lake gets very deep very quickly (it is an old gravel pit) so be careful where you step. Second, there is a bit of a current – not so much it will sweep a dog away, but I have lost some toys to it. Finally, be careful of surly fishermen (unfortunately I ran into one once) and cut-lures with hooks they sometimes leave behind.

Cranbury Park

300 Grumman Avenue
Norwalk, CT 06851

Website: https://www.norwalkct.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/1

Activities: Walking, dog socializing, hiking, off leash

Last Visit: 2020

Notes: *There is now a $10 fee for parking.* There is a small off-leash area for dogs but it is unfenced.

This is a lovely park situated right on the Norwalk-Wilton border. It is a fairly big property (220+ acres of trails) surrounding a mansion. The grounds include a disc-golf course, a large lawn and a large network of paths through the surrounding woods.

Playland Beach & Rye Town Park *RECOMMENDED*

Playland Parkway
Rye, NY

Website: https://www.facebook.com/groups/696727267094492/?ref=bookmarks
https://www.townofryeny.com/rye-town-park-and-beach

Activities: Dog swimming, dog socializing, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Off leash allowed (on beach only), “Dog Season” runs late-September to late-April; check the “Dog Friends of Playland Beach” site for more info.

Playland Beach is one of our favorite winter destinations. Opening in the early fall and closing mid-spring, it has one of the longest dog seasons in the area. It is large, mostly fenced, well maintained and very popular so your pupper will have plenty of friends to play with. Rye Town Park abuts Playland Beach and is lovely to walk around on leash (neighboring Rye Beach is NOT opened to dogs however). Both are easily accessed off I-95 via Playland Parkway.

Nichols Preserve

Entrance @ the end of West Lane
Greenwich, CT

Website: https://www.thegrta.org/preservation

Activities: Hiking, walking

Last Visit: 2019

Notes: Leashes required, you may run into horses.

This location is mostly in Armonk but the entrance is most easily reached from the Greenwich side.

Donated to The Nature Conservancy, this 94 acre tract of land sat unused and neglected until the diligence and generosity of the Greenwich Riding and Trail Association got it transferred to them for equestrian use. Luckily, many of the horse owners are also dog lovers – so they opened the property to their canine friends too.

There are wonderful trails throughout the property – ranging from narrow paths through woods, muddy trails along some lakes and vernal pools to basically paved roads through expansive meadows.

When we visited we didn’t run into any horses but we did enjoy ourselves on some of the equestrian obstacles that dot the property.

Because this is basically private property and we are guests, please be very respectful and always keep your dogs leashed and pickup and carry out any poops.

Larchmont Dog Beach & Manor Park *SKIP*

118 Park Ave
Larchmont, NY 10538

Website: https://larchmontmanorpark.org/index.html

Activities: Walking, dog swimming, dog socializing

Last Visit: 2016

Notes: NOT RECOMMENDED, Parking is on the street.

Larchmont Dog Beach is no longer worth the trip, although the adjacent Manor Park is nice to stroll through with your leashed dog, as is the surrounding neighborhood.

Several years ago Dog Beach was a popular destination – there is a *very* small spit of land (partially fenced but open to the road) with a sandy beach just off the street. At lower tides, a second larger beach was accessible. Sandwiched between two large piers and a tall seawall, it provided a nice spot for the dogs to run and play – however getting their required ignoring some “private property” signs of dubious legality placed there by a nearby beach club.

However, in 2016 social media started spreading more and more accounts of zealous police enforcement and hefty fines for dogs off leash, in the water or beyond the dubious “private property” signs. Apparently the beach clubs were unhappy with dogs in their vicinity and the new mayor was happy to oblige them.

It’s been several years and I don’t know if things have improved, but I no longer recommend people make the trip. Go to Lake Mohegan in Fairfield instead.

Rockefeller State Park Preserve *RECOMMENDED*

125 Phelps Way
Pleasantville, NY 10570

Website: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/59/details.aspx
Activities: Hiking, Walking
Last Visit: January, 2020
Notes: May have to pay for parking. Lot gets crowded. Connects to Old Croton Aqueduct Trail.

A fantastic day-trip with lots of options – you can take a short stroll around the the welcome center and nearby lake, a longer walk through the surrounding rolling hills, visit the nearby working farm or make the trek all the way to the ruins of Rockwood Hall which offers beautiful views of the Hudson River. The sprawling network of trails connects with the Old Croton Aqueduct Trail that runs for miles from Croton-on-Hudson to Yonkers. If you hike to Rockwood Hall you will see remnants of the old aqueduct in the form of stone ventilation towers.