Make no bones about it; Los Altos, CA is a great location for dog owners. Most famous as the birthplace of the Apple computer -- Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac built the first fifty in a Los Altos garage -- the area is only a 48-minute drive south from San Francisco and bordered to the southwest by acres of scenic state parks. Your pup can speed and sniff their way through forests and mountain trails, and explore some of the most pawesome parkland northern California has to offer. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that your pooch will need to be leashed on most trails -- you’ll need to drive a little to get to a proper dog park where your furry friend can run free.
Downtown Los Altos has a friendly, village feel, and several pet-friendly eateries. You and your dog can enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Village Pantry on 2nd Street, or a cup of coffee at Rick’s Cafe on State Street, while the knowledgeable staff at the neighboring Pet’s Delight Pet Store will happily assist in picking out the perfect accessories for your pup. In terms of facilities, there are several vets in Los Altos, with one clinic offering 24-hour care.
The Los Altos Hills are a haven for hikers, but it’s worth knowing which trails are and aren’t pup-friendly. The stretch of the Black Mountain Trail and Rhus Ridge is suitable for (very athletic) humans and leashed dogs, but the Rancho San Antonio stretch can’t cater to canine companions due to the wildlife. It’s well worth it to take a wander around the Westwind Community Barn off, though. Although it is primarily an equestrian space, local dog owners are besotted with the wide open meadows and views. There’s even a dog treat hunt at Easter, with treats scattered all over the property for your pooch to discover!
The best off-leash dog park close to Los Altos can be found in nearby Mountain View, on North Shoreline Boulevard at Shoreline Park. There are separate areas for large and small dogs, so your pooch can run, socialize and play fetch, even if they’re slightly nervous around bigger animals. Poop bags and water are provided. The area is also home to the Steven’s Creek Trail, a five-mile paved pathway bordered by trees. Your pup needs to stay leashed, unfortunately, but there are several water fountains along the way to sate their thirst!
Mitchell Park is located off Meadow Avenue in Palo Alto, only three miles from Los Altos, and has a furrific off-leash play area that comes stocked with balls and Frisbees. Water and dog bags are also provided, but the park doesn’t separate small and large dogs, so be mindful of your pooch’s temperament. After hiking in the Los Altos hills, you might be glad to return to civilization here -- the park is close to two dog-friendly restaurants. Mountain Mike’s Pizza and Ada’s Cafe, both on Middlefield Road, have dedicated tables for dog owners outside.
Heading off into the hills again, you'll find two fabulous nature preserves located to the northwest of Los Altos, both along Alpine Road. The closer of the two, Pearson Arastredero Reserve, features a short trail more gently sloping than anything along the steeper Black Mountain Trail. It’s best to take your leashed pup in the morning though, as there is little shade along the route. Further along the road, the Windy Hills Preserve is beloved by local dog owners, with gorgeous views over the valley. Just be sure to take water with you!