Dogs are permitted on the trail as long as they are not running at large.

Dogs should be leashed for four important reasons:

1. The Bluff Trail is not a designated off-leash area and is governed by the Wildlife Act which prohibits dogs running at large at any time of year. (Section 41 of the Wildlife Act) ,

2. dogs pose a risk to vulnerable flora and fauna species and the Bluff Trail is located within a area designated for wilderness protection,

3. because dogs can be injured by porcupine, coyote, and other animals in the area, and

4. for the comfort and enjoyment of other users. WRWEO has received numerous complaints about either overly friendly or aggressive dogs. People have complained about dogs that jump on them, damage their clothing, and eat their food. We have also had reports of people being bitten. Having dogs off leash acts as a barrier to those who are not comfortable with dogs because of personal or cultural reasons.

Best Practice in an Ideal Leave No Trace World:
Do not bring dogs to protected wilderness areas.

A Good Compromise to Reduce Harm and Minimize Impacts:
Keep dogs on leash. Pick up and carry out dog feces. Ensure that dogs stay on the trail and boardwalk and do not damage ground nests and sensitive flora such as carnivorous Pitcher Plants.

Harmful Practices which Damage the Wilderness:
Dogs travelling off leash can destroy sensitive flora, disturb wildlife, and bother other trail users. Uncollected dog feces, or worse: plastic bags containing dog feces, left on the trail or in the bushes pose a real problem both to the enjoyment of the wilderness for other hikers, and to the sensitive ecology of the area.

For off-leash recreation use designated off-leash areas such as: Sandy Lake Park (Bedford); Hemlock Ravine Park; Fort Needham Memorial Park; Point Pleasant Park; Shubie Park; and, Dartmouth Common.

To assist you in removing dog feces from the trail there is a bag dispenser mounted on a tree as you leave the Bluff Trail Parking Lot to access the Beechville Lakeside Timberlea (BLT) Trail. There are garbage containers located in the parking lot and on the BLT trail at Cranberry Lake just west of The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail head. There are no garbage containers located on the Bluff Trail and dog owners should be prepared to carry dog waste off the trail to the public garbage containers. Given the length of the Bluff Trail, this may mean carrying dog waste for several kilometres. 

Because of the growing number of users on the trail, it is important that dog feces be collected immediately and carried with you. Please do not leave dog feces (or bags containing it) on the trail or in the trees to be collected later. There is no way for other trail users to distinguish between dog bags waiting to be retrieved and those which have been completely abandoned. The presence of litter and garbage along the trail has a negative impact on the experience for other users and for maintaining good wilderness stewardship practices within this protected wilderness area.

Thank you for your assistance in maintaining The Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail in accordance with Leave No Trace (LNT) practices. Your cooperation and LNT skills will help ensure the survival of this protected Wilderness Area and all the life within it.




7 Replies to “Dogs”

  1. I was bitten by a dog on the bluff wilderness trail in May. It was running at large ahead of owners. Owners didn’t even check on me. I went back with friends a couple weeks later to try to help me deal with the incident. We ended up meeting 18 dogs off leash that day – and two small dogs leashed. I believe people are not informed, and signage regarding keeping dogs on leash might help.

    1. Thanks for your comments and suggestions. We are trying to get proper signs up regarding all the information that people need in order to use the Bluff Trail in a responsible and legal fashion. You should report your situation to the Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-565-2224.

      1. Unfortunately, no amount of signage is going to change it! Unless there is some kind of immediate consequence or repercussion for the behaviour irresponsible dog owners will just continue it. In the long run, it’s these dog owners that ruin it for the rest of us. When the rules aren’t followed the last resort is to ban dogs altogether. Funny thing is, they’re typically the FIRST people to complain when they can’t take their dog!

        1. Margaret, I feel your frustration. I’m sure you can appreciate the problem it poses to a volunteer-maintained trail such as ours to ensure there are repercussions in cases like this. The best we can do is to direct people involved in incidents to the authorities.

          As for your doubt that signage alone will change behaviour, I agree! Additionally, responsible owners need to model the correct behaviour to everyone else they pass. That is, even if an owner believes they have their dog under control when off-leash, that sends the wrong message to other dog owners.

          So to all dog owners, please leash your dog and be an example to everyone else, as well as for the other reasons mentioned on the page.

  2. I am wondering on how safe it is to bring your dog on the hike and camp the night. Has there been any Incidents on coyotes or other wild animals attacking your self or your dog on these trails. I plan on doing 3 loops this summer and staying the night at one of the designated camping sites I am looking for reviews. Thank you

    1. There are many porcupines on the trail and some dogs have had run-ins with them. There are also lots of coyotes in the area but no reported incidents of coyote – dog interactions. Not many coyotes have been seen but their scat and tracks are often observed on all the loops. So this is a decision that you will need to make – many people bring their dogs onto the trail with no incidents. We ask that you keep your dog on a leash and in control at all times, please don’t let your dog harm the wildlife in the area or trample flora as there are some rare species in and around the trail.

      1. Since I wrote the above, incidents of dogs being attacked by coyotes have come to my attention. There have been incidents of coyotes harassing and attacking dogs on the nearby St. Margaret’s Bay Rails to Trails in September 2016 and April 2017. WRWEO asks that all dogs be on leash when on the Bluff Trail.

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