The dog-friendly Ansel Adams Wilderness in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains is home to almost 350 trails. Their distance and how much you have to climb vary widely. Surrounded by Yosemite National Park, Inyo National Forest and the Sierra National Forest, Ansel Adams is deep in the wilderness and none of the hikes here are a walk in the park. The effort expended on steep climbs, scrambling over boulders and scree, sometimes ice climbing around the park's many alpine meadows, lakes, and ragged peaks is rewarded by incredible views and a solitude that only comes in wilderness. Every trail has its own special beauty and most are festooned below the tree line with flowers like wild iris and delicate-looking quaking aspen trees. Many feature switchbacks, others are almost straight up the side of a mountain or ridge.
One of the most popular trails is Parker Lake Trail, a 7-mile out-and-back that rises 650 feet, with most of the climbing at the beginning, after which it levels out and follows along Parker Creek before bringing you to more shade, vegetation and mosquitoes! At the end of the trail, you'll be treated to a view of June Lake and you might see or encounter a few small glaciers. The trailhead is near Grant Lake, and access is sometimes difficult because of the rutted approach road.
The Bloody Canyon Trail is an 8-mile out-and-back that is a real challenge. The trailhead is at Walker Lake, and you and your furry friend won't have to climb too much until the return trip, as the ascent/descent is very steep. The prospect of a dip in the lake is what keeps you moving on, and a campground (with a $5.00 national permit) will be a welcome resting spot.
Thousand Island Lake trail is another out-and-back of 14 miles, with an elevation of 3,881 feet. This is a path of relentless climbing, rewarded by magnificent views, not the least of which is the lake itself, with its many small rock "islands."
With many animals to see, from ducks to porcupines to mountain lions to bears, your pooch will have lots to do on any of the trails. Be sure to keep a firm grip on his leash! This is true wilderness hiking!
The high elevation of some of the trails in the Ansel Adams Wilderness should be considered before hiking. Remember that weather in the High Sierras is changeable and can turn bad in a heartbeat. Some of the approaches to trailheads are difficult, and SUVs/4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Be aware that Yosemite National Park does not permit dogs on leash or off, so avoid hiking northwest out of Ansel Adams.