Just 15 miles north of Richmond, the Town of Ashland has been affectionately dubbed “The Center of the Universe” by its residents for its central location in Virginia. It turns out that the Center of the Universe is dog-friendly, too, with enough parks, trails, and other places to keep tails wagging. This town also has four veterinary clinics that cater to the needs of its animals.
The Ashland Trolley Line is a furrific spot to walk your pooch. A former railroad corridor, this half-mile rail trail will take you and Fido through the dense Virginia forest. With plenty of shade overhead and a mix of gravel and grass beneath your feet and paws, walking along the Ashland Trolley Line is easy and enjoyable.
For a longer stroll, proceed to Washington Lacy Park, which offers around 2.5 miles of multi-use trails for walking, biking, and horseback riding. A favorite among equestrians, these natural, scenic trails were built with the help of non-profit citizens’ group The Friends of Hanover Trails.
In addition to green spaces, Ashland is home to some pet-friendly eateries where you can hang out with your dog. Kreggers Tap and Table, which serves vegan and gluten-free options, has a gated outdoor dining area, so you can enjoy your lunch without having to keep an eye on your pup all the time.
Ashland may be small, but you and Fido sure won’t get bored here!
Located near I-95 inside Taylor Park, the off-leash Hanover Dog Park is a favorite among local residents and tourists alike. If you’re passing through on a road trip and Fido needs to stretch his legs, a pit stop at Hanover Dog Park is a must. This fenced-in, grass-covered park features agility equipment, water stations, toys, a time-out pen, and benches. But what makes Hanover Dog Park even more pawsome are the well-behaved doggos and friendly owners. Keep in mind that puppers using the dog park are required to wear a dog license and rabies tag, and must be leashed when entering and exiting the fenced area.
If you need to restock your pantry, stop by the Ashland Farmers Market on Saturday mornings with Fido to pick up some fresh produce, baked goods, and other locally made items. Because it is a producers-only market, all products sold here are grown or prepared by the vendors themselves. After checking out the market, you and your doggo can head to a nearby pet-friendly restaurant to grab some lunch. Not only do Iron Horse Restaurant, Ashland Coffee & Tea, and Homemades By Suzanne all offer outdoor seating, they’re also located next to the train tracks, so you might see a train pass by while you’re eating.
Less than a mile from Thompson St is DeJarnette Park, an eight-acre park surrounded by woods and residences. Despite its proximity to the town center, it provides a quick getaway from all the noise and activity, so head on down to DeJarnette Park for a peaceful afternoon with Fido. The park has mostly been left in its natural state, except for the time when the one-acre pond was cleaned out to rehabilitate it as a fish habitat. Accessible via Race Course St and Beverly Rd, DeJarnette Park has a few trails where you can take your pooch for a pleasant stroll.
Ready to explore the Ashland woods with your best friend? Poor Farm Park offers a number of dog-friendly nature trails that meander through forests, bridges, stream crossings, and rock gardens. Stick to the beginner-friendly “flats” for an easy walk, or venture to the northern side of the park for a more challenging hike. Whichever difficulty level you choose, it is recommended to bring a GPS as the trails are not marked well. Always keep Fido on a leash during your walk or hike. Aside from the trails, the 254-acre Poor Farm Park features multiple multipurpose fields, picnic shelters, and playgrounds.
If you and Fido need a place to stay in Ashland, you’ll find a few pup-friendly accommodations on England St and its adjacent streets. Quality Inn & Suites allows guests to bring up to 2 pooches weighing 50 lbs or less for an extra fee per pet, per night. Dog-friendly rooms are limited, so call first to reserve one. Expect to be put in a room at the end of the hall near the back door, which you will use to enter and exit the hotel. Other options in the area include Days Inn, Ashland Inn and Suites, Red Carpet Inn, and Motel 6.