Cook County Blog

Plan a Dog-Friendly Vacation in Cook County, MN

Posted by Visit Cook County MN on Mar 4, 2019 9:00:00 AM

Spring is in the air, and it is time to plan a getaway. Whether you’re looking to escape the confines of your everyday life for a few days or even a week, planning can come with a tinge of sadness when it means leaving your four-legged family members behind. Finding a dog sitter or taking family and friends up on offers to keep your dog company while you’re away is all well and good, but up in Cook County, Minnesota, we say bring your fur-babies, too… the more, the merrier!

With so many dog-friendly activities and a wealth of lodging options that welcome canine family members and pet-loving locals everywhere you turn, Cook County is a fun destination on two legs and four.

So, pack up the kibble and poo bags and be sure to pack plenty of treats, because it’s time you treated your dog to a vacation in Cook County, Minnesota!

Our Favorite Dog-Friendly Hikes in Northeastern Minnesota

Dogs simply love trails. They love the freedom to explore new scents, to run to their heart’s content, and to spend time in the wilderness with the humans they adore. While you’re here, be sure to check out these great hikes with your pup:

  1. Moose Mountain to the Poplar River Valley, Superior Hiking Trail, Lutsen
    Our friends at Caribou Highlands put together a beautiful blog describing this trail. Rest assured that miles of winding backcountry with views of Lake Superior, the Poplar River and Lutsen Mountains will keep you and your dog happily entertained for hours on end.

  2. Grand Portage State Park, Grand Portage
    Enjoy a beautiful and leisurely hike along the Grand Portage trail, beginning at the Grand Portage National Monument and culminating at Minnesota’s tallest waterfall, High Falls. This is a popular spot, so prepare to meet other hikers and dogs along the way.

  3. Eagle Mountain, Grand Marais
    If you’re really looking to get into the wilderness with your dog, check out the Eagle Mountain trail. This moderate seven mile round trip hike brings you to the summit of Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota, where you and your dog will be treated to stunning views of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

  4. Magnetic Rock, Gunflint Trail
    Grab your compass and your canine before you hit this easy three mile trail. Magnetic rock is a 60-foot rock with strong magnetic attraction that will make your compass spin. The hike is well marked and goes through prime blueberry territory. 
Into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness: Tips for Canoeing with Dogs

There is hardly anything on this earth better than experiencing the wilderness with your four-legged best friend. Between paddling, portaging and exploring camp, you’ll have one tired and happy dog.

The BWCAW is the perfect place to explore with your dog. There’s just one thing that might stand in your way. The canoe.

Water-loving dogs can’t wait to get in, but as soon as you’re out on the water, they’re IN the water paddling happily. Try as they might, they can’t swim all day – so you have to get them to STAY in the canoe.

Other dogs would absolutely prefer to steer clear of the canoe altogether. They’re happy as can be on portages or at camp but become nervous nellies on the water. It’s understandable. It’s a bit of a strange movement, and it takes some getting used to.

The secret to canoeing with your dog is… well, there’s really no one magic key that will help your dog behave in the canoe. We’ve found that positive reinforcement, repetition and rewards (lots and lots of yummy rewards) have helped encourage wary dogs to leap into a canoe with joy – and have gotten even the most eager dogs to stay put when told.


Practice makes perfect. If you’re planning on taking your dog to the BWCAW, schedule some practice paddles at lakes near your home. Help your dog get used to entering and exiting the canoe on your command. Do a little trial and error to create a comfortable and safe spot for your dog to sit in the center of the canoe. Once you’re both comfortable in the canoe, you’re ready to head north!

Come and Stay! Dog-Friendly Lodging in Minnesota

You’ll find that Cook County, Minnesota is a dog-lover’s paradise. We’re dog-friendly folks, and we know our visitors love to bring the whole family. Our hotels, resorts, cabins and lodges have a resident dog (or two) to begin with, so welcoming new friends is a given.

As you plan your trip north, check out our list of dog-friendly lodging options and look for the paw icon indicating an accommodation that welcomes pets. For extra tips, tricks and highlights for living it up in Minnesota’s Arrowhead region with your four-legged family members, be sure to download our helpful Dog Vacation Guide.

Download the Guide

Topics: Grand Marais, Gunflint Trail, Services, Grand Portage, Lutsen Tofte Schroeder, Outdoors, Winter, Summer