The wild mountain countryside of West Virginia offers many lakes and rivers perfect for a pet-friendly vacation. Look for West Virginia vacation rentals nestled in quaint mountain towns with unique shopping and dining areas, plus historical attractions. Conversely, choose a secluded cabin in the wilderness for a quiet getaway. Take a look at these dog-friendly beach areas to find a location just right for your pet.

a dog running in the water
Source: Flickr/Dion Hinchcliffe

1. Fitzpatrick Park

Plan on spending plenty of time waterside at this rural park to give your dog his fill of fun water play. Located on Lake Stephens in Beckley, this 12-acre park offers a variety of trails for you to explore with your pet in addition to the lake shore area. All dogs must stay on their leashes, but both you and your dog are welcome to get into the water. Bring along a picnic lunch, and take advantage of the shady picnic areas offering a gorgeous view of Lake Stephens’ waterfall. There is also a nearby playground perfect for any kids in your group. Book a vacation rental in Beckley, and turn your beach time into a full family vacation. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Five Guys, and Pasquale’s Italian Restaurant, right in town, all offer pet-friendly outdoor seating areas, and Pasquale’s cannolis are a can’t-miss treat. Although Fitzpatrick Park is open year round, the weather is likely to be too cold for water play during the deep winter season, and outdoor seating areas are likely to be closed at that time as well.

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2. Cacapon Resort State Park

Cacapon Resort State Park provides a beautiful mountain setting for you and your pooch to explore, plus a gorgeous mountain lake for your best buddy to enjoy. This state park does require leashes for walking the trails, and dogs are not allowed in the water at designated human swimming areas. Take the hike up to the Cacapon Mountain observation deck to get a great view of West Virginia Appalachia, and then grab some grub at the beach snack bar, which offers a variety of sandwiches, pizzas, drinks, and desserts from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Cacapon is open year round, but the water is icy and the amenities are few outside of the summer season. For a family vacation that includes your pet family, book a dog-friendly vacation home in nearby Berkeley Springs. At dinner time, take a stroll to Maria’s Garden for casual American fare in pet-friendly seating on their patio, or head to Roy’s Pacific Rim for fusion fare including fresh seafood dishes and fabulous sushi options.

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3. Seneca State Forest

Head to Seneca State Forest in Pocahontas County for nearly 12,000 acres of forested wilderness to explore with your pup, as well as beautiful beach areas around Seneca Lake and more opportunities for water play along the Greenbrier River. Be sure to keep your dog on his leash on the trails, and pets are not allowed in the designated swimming areas on Seneca Lake. Luckily, there are plenty of other places along the trails where your dog can romp in the water for games of fetch or just cooling off. Pets and owners may swim together in the Greenbrier River as long as you ensure your dog doesn’t bother other bathers or tubers. For a longer stay, check out vacation rentals in nearby Dunmore, Green Bank, or Huntersville. Although Seneca State Forest is open year round, the weather is typically too cold for water play outside of the May through October season.

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4. Cranberry Wilderness

Satisfy your water-loving dog’s need to splash and swim with a vacation near the Cranberry Wilderness, and then, hike the old railroad grade trail along the Williams River. This trails weaves close to the river shore with plenty of spots perfect for diving in and cooling off. Feel free to enjoy the water with your pet, but use a leash when you’re hiking for his protection from snakes and other wildlife. Vacation rentals in Hillsboro, Richwood, and Marlinton offer home-away-from-home comfort for your wilderness vacation. Be sure to check out Cranberry Mountain Nature Center while you are at Cranberry Wilderness. The center has a beautiful wildflower garden, living history displays, and picturesque picnic area.

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5. Middle Gauley River

If you and your dog are the adventurous sort, book a vacation rental near Minden, and head out to the middle Gauley River area where the rocky terrain creates perfect waves for romping or even surfing. Dogs are welcome to frolic in the river with you, and except for the renowned waves in the middle, this portion of the Gauley is relatively calm and shallow. Rent stand-up paddleboards at ACE gear shop in Minden to give this river version of surfing a try, and with the shore close by, you might be able to coax Fido onto the board as well. Water levels in the Gauley are suitable for surfing from roughly May through September. Avoid the earlier spring months when melt-off fills the river and dangerous rapids form. The Thurmond-Minden Trail also passes through this area, providing the comfortable path of a former railway bed for hiking through picturesque scenery.

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