Dog Days are Here- Recreation With Your Furry Friends

Heavy breathing, quick tantrum, heavy breathing, and then an unmistakable slobbery tongue making sure you are waking up.  Yep, that’s a morning routine for most dog owners a.k.a. parents. Some might be waiting to be let outside, for their bowl to be filled with dog food (scrambled eggs, if they are lucky) or they’ll run straight to the leash hoping for an adventure. The last option, going on an adventure, that’s what my dog is looking for every day. Do not even think to say the word “walk”, “ride” or “dog park” without him going crazy – and this dogs name is Django Grey Wind. For anyone wondering –Django is named after Jamie Foxx’s amazing character is Django Unchained and Grey Wind is Robb Starks dire wolf in Game of Thrones.

So I do what every dog parent does: take my good ole time, watch the morning news, drink lots of coffee, then I’m ready. Django knows what adventure clothes look like. The minute I reach for my bottom left hand drawer to pull out my athletic gear he is up, off the bed and ready to bolt to his leashing station. When the tennis shoes or rain boots come out, he knows he’s minutes away from hours of fresh air.

The dilemma hits. Where should we go today? What am I in the mood for? Can he get all his energy out doing this or that? Well my furry friend, luckily you live in a beautiful county with lots of rolling hills and opportunities to explore.  Let’s get started!

Cascade Park has always been a favorite place to go.  Not only do they have hiking trails, but they have a creek for him to cool off in and places for him to sun himself or relax while we enjoy a picnic. A few times we have walked back to the baseball fields to catch a little league game.  The park is beautiful with rock formations, running water and a waterfall. When the dog park was erected we felt like we hit the jackpot! A place where Django can run around leash -free in the city and play with his friends. You got that right, many dog play dates have been had here. The Cascade Park Dog Park is an off leash dog park with designated areas for small, large, active and senior breeds. If you are lucky enough the K-9 unit will be using the agility course next door and you can see how amazing their dogs are.

In Lawrence County we have six public game lands – which means six options to have fun and become filthy.  Our two favorites are in Pulaski Township; the wetlands and regular woods (not sure what else to call woods). In the wetlands we can explore for hours, follow trails into the woods, a.k.a. scout out hunting spots for my dad and get all of our energy out while becoming muddy in the process.  The other game land has a hidden Revolutionary  War grave we like to walk to and pay our respects – this is our place when getting dirty is not on the agenda.

On our way back from the game lands neither of us is opposed to a few Apple Castle donuts to curve our hunger until we get home. Not to mention they have dog treats he loves ( All Natural Dog Bone in maple bacon flavor) found right by the donut counter. Also, I highly recommend picking up No-Bite cream or soap from their as well. The product keeps bugs and ticks away, it works like a charm! You can find this in the left back corner by the old fashioned hard candy.

From the Paws of Django: Hunting season is approaching. To be safe, only explore on Sundays and AWAYS dress you and your human in ORANGE.

West Park Nature Center is located in Union Township on Old Youngstown Rd., (across from DMV).  The park boasts cut-stone entrances, meadows with wild flowers, streams, wooded areas, 2 miles of hiking/ mountain bike trails, 1 mile walking trails, 2 miles of cross country running trails, cross country skiing and wetlands.  The Center is home to many different species. Along the trails you have the opportunity to view and learn about the wetland habitat which includes a walking trail, observation deck and informational kiosk. Also, there are identification opportunities for invasive and native plants.  But that’s not all! The Center has 25 acres certified by the Audubon Society Wildlife Sanctuary.

Stavich Bicycle Trail is the only bicycle trail in the United States that takes you through three different townships, two different counties and two different states. Django has twelve miles to sniff, observe the local wildlife and view a few trains steaming by.

From the Paws of Django: The pavement can become extremely hot on my paws during the hot months. I recommend using a silicon protector like the one my human slathers on my paws during the winter to protect my paws from burning on the salt. Good news though! The trail is lined with grass on either side where I can walk and “cool” off my paws.

Ahhh breathtaking McConnells Mill State Park, what’s not to love. We have 9 miles of hiking trails: Hells Hollow, Kildoo, Slippery Rock Gorge and Alpha Pass which includes the North Country Trail (NCT)  to explore! 9 miles seems so little until you’re on the rugged trails. Each trail is marked making it easy and safe to scout. There is nothing like breathing in fresh, crisp air while listening to rushing water. We have yet to make it to Cleland Rock, which is on our bucket list! Did you know Wampum is a designated Trail Town on the NCT? And that it’s the first official Trail Town on the NCT? Pretty wicked, huh? In case you didn’t know the NCT is the longest footpath in the U.S. encompassing 4,600 miles and it happens to run through Lawrence County.

NEIGHBORHOODS! We LOVE to explore neighborhoods in Lawrence County.  Each part of the county is significantly different and offers different options. In walking distance of home is the Historic North Hill. Did you know New Castle has the 3rd largest historic district in PA with over 1,700 historic structures? This makes for a very beautiful and interesting walk. We sometimes start by the Scottish Rite Cathedral, walk to New Castle High School, make our way to Arts + Education at the Hoyt and continue up! Some of my favorite homes are on Lincoln Avenue by New Castle High School. You can’t beat the architecture.

Sometimes we head over to New Wilmington,  park near Lake Brittain on Westminster College campus, take time to walk around the lake and periodically jump on the trails or we make our way up to the neighborhoods. The homes in New Wilmington are charming and make me happy – literally. I love New Wilmington and everything it has to offer. Once we pack up we head over to Mugsies Coffee House so I can grab something to go.

Behind Neshannock High School is a trail dedicated to late John Thompson, a teacher from NHS. The 2.4 maintained trail curves through the woods, over streams, take you close to the Y-Zone and back to the school. Be on the lookout for the different trees and shrubs – 125 of them actually. Along the way you will find informational stands describing the local flora and fauna.  You can enter behind the baseball and football field with parking close to each entrance.

From the Paws of Django: The trail is also used by Neshannock Cross Country students so please be mindful.

We like to explore cemeteries ( I blame Buffy the Vampire Slayer).In walking distance is Oak Park Cemetery – one of the oldest cemeteries in Lawrence County. If you want to know who was who in the city, look no further than Oak Park.  The cemetery is beautiful with gothic style mausoleums and ivy dripping off the monuments and trees.  Oak Park connects with Graceland cemetery providing lots of winding paths to keep us going.

Many days after work we take walks downtown. We love the row of houses on E. Grant Street – reminds us of something you would see in San Francisco. But then again I might be biased because my mom designed them (Diane Coury Design Associates). Have you checked out the new mural in the Mercer St. Parking Garage? It’s breathtaking! After we walk around for a little bit we stop by Two Rivers Artisan Coffee Works to grab a coffee to go and pupachino for the spoiled pup (whip cream in a cup).

Some other, but not all, Django approved places include: ice cream from Sweet Caroline’s in Ellwood City, a plain hot dog from Coney Island, Pearson Park trail and the grounds of Haunted Hill View Manor.

We hope this list inspires you to get out and have fun together! After exploring we are ready for a nap – but not before I see my dad sneaking him a very expensive slice of cheese. Grandparents – they can’t say no.

Share you and your furry friends adventures with us! Be sure to use the #VisitLawrenceCounty

From the Paws of Django: Things to remember:

  • Please be a responsible dog owner. This includes and not limited to:
    • Pick up after your dog
    • Bring water and food
    • Abide by the law, rules and regulations
    • You and your human MUST wear orange in the woods
    • Be respectful
    • Leash your dog
    • Be sure to have your dog’s license and rabies license on collar
    • Wear appropriate clothing
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