Places To Exercise Fido

Places To Exercise Fido

County maintains eight canine areas.

Looking for a place to let your dogs off-leash so they can run and play? The Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation maintains eight Community Canine Areas (CCAs) in Arlington County. James Hunter Park is currently closed for renovations to become more sustainable and is set to reopen soon, so there are now seven CCAs that are well worth a visit. Here is a guide to some of the local favorites.

Shirlington Park, near the Village at Shirlington, is perfect for dogs that love to swim and probably the most popular Arlington CCA. Named the best dog park of 2009 by Washington Express, it’s obvious why this park is the top choice for locals. The 29-acre park runs along the stream at 4-Mile Run with water access for dogs who want to take a dip. For those nervous about letting their dogs in the stream, the Arlington Department of Environmental Services monitors E. coli levels at 15 sites around Arlington each month. The trails have benches if you want to stop and admire the scenery, but since this dog park is nearly always packed, make sure your dog is comfortable with lots of excitement. On a beautiful weekend it’s full of dogs big and small.

Just a couple miles from Shirlington Park is another, slightly smaller CCA, Fort Bernard. The dog exercise area is across the street from the main park, making it the perfect place for parents to go exercise their dogs while the children play baseball and basketball. This park is great because there are plenty of Frisbees and balls available to play with. There are a few shady trees with picnic tables as well as water fountains for the two-legged and the furry-legged. There’s a community bulletin board in the center of the fenced area, roughly one acre, with lots of information on upcoming pet-friendly events.

Dina Hart, a volunteer with Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac takes her two rescue labs to Fort Bernard while her children play football. “One thing to be cautious of is bringing dogs to the dog park that have not been spayed or neutered. The only times I’ve seen issues arise between dogs is when one hasn’t been fixed. Otherwise dog parks are a fantastic way to socialize and exercise your dogs,” said Hart.

A few miles away is Utah Park, nestled within the Fairlington neighborhood near I-395. This CCA is small, at around three quarters of an acre, but still has plenty of room to run. The highlight of this park is a pavilion with picnic tables in the middle of the fenced area where owners can relax in the shade and still keep an eye on their dogs. If you’re looking for a small park with a community feel, this is the spot for you.

For history buffs, Benjamin Banneker Park boasts one of the boundary markers of the original District of Columbia. You can see the stone on Van Buren Street then walk around the paved path to the nearly two-acre fenced CCA. This park is much more than just a dog park; there are charcoal grills, picnic tables, paved walking/biking paths and athletic fields. The CCA area is made of crushed rock and has plenty of shade and picnic tables. This is another park that’s frequently packed with dogs of all shapes and sizes. One basset hound/boxer mix visits twice a week and “loves to meet new dogs,” said her owner, an Arlington resident who lives just a few minutes away.

For dogs that prefer to be unleashed without a fence, Glencarlyn Park is the spot for them. Right by the Long Branch Nature Center, the 97-acre park offers it all- picnic areas, nature trails, an amphitheater and fishing. This is another good spot for dogs to take a dip after roaming the trails.

Arlington offers a host of options for canine entertainment at area CCAs. Keep up with events and changes on the Department of Parks and Recreation website:

Benjamin Banneker Park

1701 North Van Buren Street

Lights on until 8 p.m.

Fort Barnard

at the corner of South Pollard Street

and South Walter Reed Drive

Lights on until 9 p.m.

Fort Ethan Allen Park

3829 North Stafford Street

Lights on until 7 p.m.

Glencarlyn Park

301 South Harrison Street

James Hunter Park (Closed for renovations)

1299 N. Herndon Street

Shirlington Park

2601 South Arlington Mill Drive

Towers Park

801 South Scott Street

Lights on until 10 p.m.

Utah Park

3191 South Utah Street

— Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation