This week’s feature: Forest Hill Recreation Complex
Do you ever get tired of walking the same old sidewalks with your dog? Is fetch in the backyard starting to feel stale? If so, perhaps it’s time to hit the trails! Harford County is home to a variety of parks and wildlife areas, most of which are dog friendly. With this new series, we invite you along as we explore some of these areas with our own dogs. We’ll provide park information, trail tips, and training ideas to help inspire you to get your own dog out for an autumn adventure! Make sure that you are well prepared for your hike with water for you and your dog, poop bags, training treats, cell phone and anything else you may need!
We traveled to Forest Hill Recreation Complex located at 21 Rock Spring Church Rd. in Forest Hill. You need to turn down Randy Blair Lane, then you will see this sign Forest Hill Recreation Council. The entrance to the complex isn’t very obvious, which is a shame because down that tree-lined lane lies a wealth of training and exploration opportunities! With over 50 acres at this complex, this is a great place to explore!
Once you enter the complex, there is ample parking near the athletic fields as well as the pavilion. There are baseball/softball fields, tennis courts, horseshoe pits and more. To the right of the pavilion is a building with the restrooms/concessions located there.
This hike included Lindsey, Cabot (Shetland Sheepdog), Ruger (Australian Shepherd) and I. We loaded up all our supplies in a backpack and headed out.
We entered the trail just to right of the concession building, where the first trail sign was located. The trail itself could be classified as rugged with steep inclines, encroaching vegetation, and thick trees. It was well marked in most areas with clear paint square splotches on the trees. It was so enjoyable to out in the wilderness with our dogs. We really did have a great time!
However, there were a couple sections where downed trees made navigation a little more tricky. Mildly annoying for the humans but great fun for the dogs! Ruger and Cabot really enjoyed the multitude of smells found along the trail. There were plenty of hollowed trees to investigate and logs to climb over. Uneven terrain with natural obstacles is a great confidence building activity for your dog, as well as a natural way for them to learn how to utilize their bodies more effectively.
We emerged from the trail on the far side of the athletic fields and we were treated to a gorgeous view of Harford County. From the hill we ascended, we could see across the athletic fields to our left and all the way to Forest Lakes Elementary School on the right. Looking for a great place to train with the distant distraction of children? This is it! There are hills, wide open grassy areas, and plenty of room for your dog to stretch their legs on a long line. Ruger got to play some fetch while Cabot worked on holding his stay for a thrown toy. We could have spent hours there playing recall games, practicing scent work, working on heeling patterns….you get the point!
We visited for a little over an hour on our Adventure and afterwards, we had two pooped pups. It’s not always just about physical exercise, exercise for your dog is a mental game too. These lucky dogs were able to utilize all their senses today in a new and stimulating environment. Also, regular exposure to new places allows your dog to generalize their skill set, meaning all those cool things they do at home can become things they can do ANYWHERE. It’s not just about the dogs either, think about how amazing you’d feel after a fun walk in the fresh air with your best friend!
Let’s talk location. The Complex is situated between Jarrettsville and Bel Air but with major roads nearby, it was still only a 15 minute drive from Jarrettsville. Work up an appetite after your hike and need quick dinner ideas? No problem! There are several restaurants close by that offer take out, such as Papa John’s, The Hickory Lodge, Tutto Fresco, Fisherman’s Catch, Chopstix, and Chick-fil-A, just to name a few. Suddenly realize you were low on dog food or just want to treat your buddy to something special? Fortunately for your pup, The Mill of Bel Air is only 5 minutes away.
In summary, this was certainly a park I’d visit again. As previously mentioned, there are so many ways we can play and train here. Even if trail hikes aren’t your thing, you’d have plenty of room to give your dog an enriching experience as well as practice all those skills you’ve learned together in class. Take advantage of this hidden gem in Harford County and head out for an adventure with YOUR dog! Stay tuned as we will feature another Harford K9 Hike & Adventure location and we will give you the low down!