Looking for a place to take your quarantine pup? Look no further. Rochester is full of excellent trails — and even a few dog parks for those who want to give their pet a chance to socialize off-leash.

Off-leash

Remember, even at off-leash parks, you should still follow basic dog etiquette. Dogs should enter and exit the parks on a leash, and must be properly vaccinated. It’s up to you, the owner, to keep an eye on your dog — clean up after them, prevent aggressive behavior, and stop any fights immediately.

Jean and Carl Frank Canine Parks

1799 Pinewood Road SE, Rochester

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5243 West Circle Drive NW, Rochester

These canine parks, with separate areas for small and large dogs, are Rochester staples. Be careful at the Southeast park, as it’s not fully fenced — if you have a runner, you might want to keep them on the lead as you approach the two trails out back that lead to the river. The paved and unpaved trails make for excellent walking areas, for those who do better on a leash.

Gabe Below, of Rochester, plays with his dog, Thor, a St. Bernard mix, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Gabe Below, of Rochester, plays with his dog, Thor, a St. Bernard mix, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

River Road/Essex Park

62nd Street Northwest, Rochester

A lovely combination of running area (River Road) and the trails at Essex make this pet-friendly park an excellent one to revisit. Make sure all canines are on a leash at Essex.

Bonus: Stewartville Dog Park

Marvs Lane, Stewartville

If you’re willing to go a little further out, the Stewartville park has seen considerable additions in the past year, thanks to efforts by Girl Scout Troop 45014, which added agility equipment. It’s only about 15 miles from Rochester, and is operated by the city.

Gabe Below, of Rochester, plays with his dog, Thor, a St. Bernard mix, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Gabe Below, of Rochester, plays with his dog, Thor, a St. Bernard mix, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at the Jean and Carl Frank Canine Park in Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Trails

Looking for a nice place to walk your dog? There are many paved trails in and around Rochester — like those leading into and out of Quarry Hill, Silver Lake, and Cooke Park. However, if you’re looking for a new experience, consider the following:

Douglas State Trail

This 12.5-mile paved trail begins in Northwest Rochester and continues through Douglas, all the way to Pine Island. Join at any point for neighborhood views that transition into farmland the farther out you go. Watch out for bikes, heavy foot traffic, and maybe even horses on the unpaved areas that run parallel to the paved path!

Izaak Walton Wetlands

South Salem Road, Rochester

The entire wetlands comprises about a mile of trails — not much for dedicated hikers, but enough for a scenic stroll. Park along the roadway and look for the sign.

State trails — any of them

We’re partial to the scenic limestone bluffs at Whitewater State Park (19041 MN-74, Altura). Hint: Carley State Park, located in roughly the same area, is just as nice, but often less crowded. Dogs are allowed on leashes at all Minnesota state parks, though — just pick your favorite, and remember to pack water and doggie bags for your furry friend.