Canine Camper

Dogs are welcome on the Huron-Manistee National Forests!

White, tan, black dog with black-green boots, orange harness.Back view of woman in jeans and boots
Dogs are welcome on the Huron-Manistee National Forests (HMNFs), given that applicable rules are followed and proper etiquette is practiced. Observing these rules and recommendations on this page will ensure that you and other forest visitors have a safe and enjoyable outdoor recreation experience.

Michigan has a statewide leash requirement stating all dogs must be kept on a leash when outside including when recreating on public lands.

Keep your pet safe by bringing the proper supplies such as water and waste bags. Drinking puddle or lake water can potentially transmit parasites and other germs that can lead to illness.

Pay attention to your surroundings and their behavior.

Please always keep your dog under control to respect other visitors and the natural resources of the HMNFs.

Trail Use

Dogs are allowed on hiking trails, as long as they are kept on a leash. Unleashed dogs can pose a danger to your pet, the natural resources of the area, and other forest visitors.Woman wearing hiking gear holding a white and black dog on a leash while standing on a trail.

  • Leashes must be six feet, or shorter, when in developed recreation sites, including trails within the boundaries (36 CFR 261.16(j)) when they are not inside an enclosed vehicle or tent.
  • Yield your leashed dog around other hikers, bicyclists and horses.
  • Be sure to give your pup water breaks to keep them hydrated.
  • Store their food in bear-resistant food containers.
  • Pack out your dogs waste or bury it 100 feet from water and trails.
  • Bring enough food and water for your canine companion.


Dogs are allowed at campsites and developed recreation areas; however, they should not be allowed to run loose in recreation areas where they will disturb other forest visitors. Be mindful of the impact a barking dog can have on other forest visitors.

  • Keep dogs on a six-foot, or shorter, leash when they are not inside an enclosed vehicle or tent.
  • Store dog food in bear-resistant containers and feed your pet away from the campsite.
  • Pick up and bag your dog’s waste. Place it in a provided trash receptacle or pack it out.
  • Do not leave your dog unattended at any time.
  • Do not leave your dog in the vehicle on a hot day.
  • Keep your dog in your tent or vehicle at night.
  • Ensure that there is ample water available for your pet.


When boating with your dog, follow all Michigan State boating laws and only allow your animal on pet-friendly shorelines.

  • Use care when getting your dog in and out of the boat to ensure their safety.
  • Consider both you and your dog wearing a life jacket.
  • Provide shade for your pet.
  • Remember to bring their food and water as it may be unsafe for them to drink lake water.
  • Occasionally, bring your dog to land so that they can relieve themselves. 

Please remember that dogs are prohibited in designated swimming areas.


No matter how friendly your dog is, do not allow them to interact with wildlife. This can frighten or injure wildlife, putting you and your dog in danger.

Seasonal Safety Tips

Human leg in blue jeans and brown boots. Dogs leg wearing black and green boots sitting on top
Be cautious when bringing your pet out on the Forests during hunting season. Equip your pet and yourself with a bright orange, or fluorescent pink, articles of clothing.

In hot weather, it is important to conduct a “palm test” by pressing your palm on walking surface. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot for your dog’s paws. You may want to consider equipping your pet with boots as they can prevent burning, freezing and injuries from hot, rough and slippery surfaces.

During the winter, be aware of how your pet may be impacted from slippery surfaces, rock salt and the temperature.

Never leave your pet unattended. Dogs allowed to roam freely can frighten or injure wildlife, disturb other forest visitors and can potentially create irreversible impacts to the natural resources.

Your dog is not “just another wild animal.” Please ensure that you follow all Leave No Trace Pet Principles with your pet as you would.

By practicing good dog etiquette and being a conscientious dog owner, you will be helping keep the HMNFs a "Dog Friendly" place.

Yellow, tan, grey, white graphic showing pet essentials