But can we hike with our dogs?

One of my freelance jobs is writing interpretive and informational signs for natural and cultural historical sites. We went to a lovely location that could use some instructional clarification:


(and epsecially a little extra proofreading).

No dogs allowed, with three exceptions: one of them is "on leash within the state park" (wherever that is).

BUT, look at this!


Cool. The perfect length for our mixed-age group, and bikes and dogs are allowed on the trail. Also we’d be okay on taking the extra trail to the ocean with our dogs, although not if we’d had bikes.


Then we got to the trail head.


Which is the Dune Forest Loop Trail? There are three loop trails, none identified as the one we want. And what’s with the NO DOGS sign? What does it apply to? It looks like it includes the beach trail that we thought was open to us. Bikes are allowed on the loop trail only, whichever loop trail that is. The directional arrows are ambiguous. None of these hikes is 2.9 miles, which would be the trail we’re looking for; "our" trail’s code from the other sign is red. There is what looks like it used to be a bit of red coding by the south parking lot trail (with an arrow pointing straight ahead).

We place our bets on trying to correlate the map on the first sign (located back in the parking lot, with the specific instructions about who can go where) with what we think is the lay of the land. We go right from the way-obscuring "wayfinder" above.


Following the completion of the hike and return to the parking lot and the original signage, I think we guessed right. One of our hiking companions for that day is a lawyer and did offer to defend us if we got in trouble because it was clear that intelligible information was lacking.

We had no interest in taking our dogs where they weren’t appropriate. We kept them on leash, and to the best of our knowledge we didn’t scare any wildlife or leave any evidence of our passage, other than footprints.

But I think the multiple entities governing this area need to hire someone to put together new interpretive and wayfinding signage.


5 thoughts on “But can we hike with our dogs?”

  1. Agreed! They need much better signage and directions. I’d be totally lost…Oh, but its sooo beautiful there. I can’t wait to go!

  2. It’s scary to think someone got paid to put together that mish-mash of misinformation. This is what happens when they don’t hire a professional writer, which is a common mistake. Most people think that anyone can write, so why pay for it? They fail to consider that they will get what they pay for.

  3. I suspect this is several generations of signage and decisions from different park rangers/managers. Terrible to figure out, but unlikely to be a problem either way…as it’s totally unclear! I really dislike the “no dogs” routine unless there’s a productive reason. I was at the university biology dept. potluck and I mentioned someone’s kindness one day as I walked through the first floor of the building with my dogs. A biologist’s spouse missed the point and immediately objected to the dogs “in a workplace.” I said it’s a biology building–if living things aren’t welcome, what the heck are they doing there? She said it’s ok if they’re “working with the animals.” (then I followed it up with, “Oh, torture is ok, but live animals walking through is only ok at places like Duke and Cornell?!) You get where I’m going. I’ll keep pushing people when they’re arbitrarily ridiculous like that!

  4. There are three different government entities that have jurisdiction over adjoining parts of this area, so yes, the bad signage reflects both different times and the regulations of the different agencies.

    One of the biggest problems is that it’s all clear to THEM what they are saying (for example, they know exactly which is state parks land and which is US fish and wildlife). Because it’s absolutely clear to them, they don’t understand how NOT obvious those boundaries are to an outsider.

    Lots of dogs are hooligans, because their owners don’t expect them to behave well and don’t put the time into making sure that they do. I was able to do really great wildlife watching with our Australian shepherd, Heather. She could be so still that we would have foxes come within 10 feet of us. Ariel is almost that good. Tussah is about three-quarters as good . . . but we didn’t have her join our family until she was at least five years old, so she’s at a disadvantage. I like adopting older dogs; but the training can lag, depending on personality. . . .

  5. I don’t know how funding is in Oregon, but in Washington trails are kept open by volunteers. Maybe they don’t have the funds to hire a professional.

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