Dog Friendly Recreation Etiquette
There are some San Mateo County Parks trails that welcome dogs on leash accompanied by their human companions. To make your visit enjoyable and safe for all park patrons, please keep in mind a few simple, common courtesies. Dogs that join you on our dog-friendly trails are expected to be on-leash. The leash rule is aimed at providing a safe experience for your dog and other park visitors. Along trails like Devil’s Slide, bicyclists, or potentially even horses, could pose an injury risk to a dog off-leash from collisions or altercations. In addition to protecting your dog, the leash rules are also intended to protect other visitors from unwanted dog interactions. Sometimes high energy dogs can knock over children and the elderly when off-leash or allowed to run up to strangers. By keeping your dog on-leash you are greatly reducing the likelihood of this occurring. Remember not everyone has dogs and for some people these fuzzy companions are intimidating and even scary.
An important and real health risk does stem from dog waste in community parks. Dog waste, both fresh and old, poses a serious health risk if left in public parks. Dog waste has been documented to carry and transmit various diseases to people including Giardiasis, Cryptosporidiosis, Toxocariasis, Salmonella, and others. Exposure to these diseases can occur through contaminated soil or water resources or even direct contact. Children often playing in parks run the highest risk of exposure due to the likelihood of playing on the ground in the dirt, near water, or through inadvertent contact. The “bag-it” rule is aimed at eliminating this risk factor. Always bring at least one plastic bag to clean up after your dog. Dog waste should be promptly picked up and disposed of in garbage receptacles. Bagged dog-waste left along trails is considered littering, is subject to littering fines, and does not significantly reduce the risk of exposure to these diseases.
The Parks Department is excited to have more people and their canine companions using our parks. With the addition of dog-friendly recreation more responsibility from the park users planning on bringing their dogs to San Mateo County Parks is expected. Your dog cannot always determine who wants to be approached, so make sure you help your dog make new friends appropriately. And more importantly, your dog cannot bag their own waste, so please help your dog clean-up after themselves.
Please remember to be a good neighbor, keep your dog on-leash for both their safety and the safety of others, and bag that waste!
Parks for You and Your Dog
In accordance with the County's updated dog ordinance, San Mateo County Parks and the Dog Work Group have significantly expanded recreational opportunities for dogs and their owners by allowing dogs on leash and on trail at several new park locations. The full list of locations available to you and your dogs is now as follows:
- Coyote Point Recreation Area (Learn More »)
- Junipero Serra Park
- Devil’s Slide Trail
- Pillar Point Bluff
- Quarry Park
- Mirada Surf
- Coastal Trail at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
In addition to the San Mateo County parks and trails that allow dogs, consider dog-friendly trails in nearby Midpeninsula Open Space District locations:
- Pulgas Ridge in San Carlos
- Windy Hill in Portola Valley
- Thornwood in Woodside
When visiting the park with your dog, please be sure to:
- Always keep dogs on leash
- Scoop the poop
- No more than 3 dogs per person
- Keep leash 6 feet or less when near others
- Keep dogs out of playgrounds and other undesignated areas
- Leave wildlife and vegetation undisturbed
While increased dog access is being piloted at San Mateo County Parks, our park rangers will focus on educating park visitors on the new ordinance and may issue citations with fees for non-compliance.
Dog Working Group
The Dog Work Group, comprised of community members and County commissioners and staff, are following up on work done by the Dog Management Committee by identifying potential park locations for additional dog recreation.
More Dog Recreational Areas
The California State Parks guide to on- and off-leash dog recreational areas on and around the San Mateo coast.