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  • Writer's pictureGo Gaston!

The Ultimate Dog-Friendly Road Trip in Gaston County

Updated: Jul 18, 2022

Now is the time for you and your best fur-friend to hit the road for a weekend of fun. Hike our shady trails, splash in cool river water, chill out at a dog-friendly brew pub or restaurant patio, and catch an outdoor concert before hitting the hay under the stars. The parks and businesses in Gaston County welcome dogs and their owners with open arms.

Expansive views and great exercise – Pinnacle of Crowders Mountain

The best hikes

Enjoy a long walk with your dog on miles of hiking trails in Gaston County. For hikers looking for something strenuous, the trails at Crowders Mountain State Park will take you to the the highest point in the County. Other great trails include a leisurely stroll along Seven Oaks Preserve Trail which will take you on a relatively flat hike through woods along the banks of the Catawba River. Or, try the lakefront loop at Rankin Lake Park. Even more trails can be found via the easy to use online maps by Carolina Thread Trail.

Try flatwater paddling

If your dog loves the water, try a relaxing paddle on the flat water of the South Fork River. If you have your own gear, we have a whole route mapped out for you called the 11 Mills Blueway. You’ll find Class I-II rapids on the upper stretch of this blueway, to be safe, we recommend putting in below the dam in McAdenville or in Cramerton for a slow float trip. If you don't have your own gear, we have you covered. There are multiple businesses in Gaston County that can get you outfitted for a fun day on the water. Some of which, even offer lessons.

Leashed dogs welcome at Whitewater Center

More outdoor adventures

Dogs are welcome every day of the year at the Whitewater Center, where you can hike the trails, splash in the Catawba River, or just hang out along the whitewater channels with your pup, a burger, and a craft beer. All the Center’s special events are pet-friendly, including the River Jam concert series, Whitewater Film Series, and monthly festivals. Many festivals even include dog-centric events.

Make new friends at the dog park

Let your dog frolic with other pups at Gaston’s three fenced, off-leash dog parks. The five-acre canine playground at George Poston Park is divided into two sections, one for breeds under 25 pounds and the other for larger dogs. Dogs and their ice cream-craving owners can romp in the shade on Goat Island, then walk the greenway to downtown Cramerton for a cone at Floyd and Blackie’s. Mount Holly’s Tuckaseegee Park also has a divided dog park for small and large breeds, along with walking trails through surrounding wetlands.

Enjoy a cold one

Happy dogs and craft beer go together like hops and yeast, so it’s only natural that Gaston County breweries welcome the dog crowd. Take your dog with you to Thirsty Dog, a family friendly dog bar serving beer, wine and cocktails. There's also plenty of on leash space indoors, or to Cavendish Brewing Company for their flagship brews on trivia night.

Our coolest patios

Sink into a patio chair at one of Belmont’s dog-friendly eateries for an icy cold beer and a hearty snack or dinner. The String Bean Restaurant offers small bites, burgers, salads, and hearty entrees on their covered patio, while Station serves unique local craft beers from their renovated train depot taproom and patio.

Doggie spa day

Pamper your pooch with a day of grooming at Grateful Pets in downtown Belmont and Mount Holly. This boutique offers 27 years of professional dog and pet grooming as well as boarding.

Spend the night under the stars

It’s an easy one-mile hike to the dog-friendly backcountry campsites at Crowders Mountain. Eleven shady, private family and group sites are the perfect spot to hang your hammock, build a campfire, and snuggle with your furry camping buddy.

If sleeping under the stars isn't your idea of fun, we also have a list of places to stay, many of which are dog friendly as well.


What are you waiting for plan your road trip to Gaston County today for a weekend of fun with your best fur friends.

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