ADK-9 Challenge. A Hiking Adventure for you and your Dog!

Grab your furry four-legged companion and hit the trails. Safely. This is the ADK-9 Challenge. A challenge that has nine dog-friendly trails for you and your best friend to adventure out to. Adirondack local, Phil Galuppi created this challenge and spoke with me on why he created it, how and when.

Having read a few articles about hikers with dogs, Phil Galuppi created the ADK-9 challenge in 2020 after learning that pet owners did not know what trails were best for pets, what to look for, and what to avoid when hiking with dogs. As an avid hiker and dog lover, he was concerned that there was too little information on hiking with dogs in the Adirondacks.

Phil- “The challenge was created in early June 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. What inspired me the most to create the challenge was wanting to create a platform to spread dog hiking safety awareness while having fun doing it. I was reading a lot of horrible stories before the challenge was created of people doing high peaks or other mountains that aren’t in the best interest of dogs. People were needing rescue, medical help, and were getting lost.”

Almost every hiker I have spoken with has their own dog or is just a huge dog lover in general. That’s why I did this article, to help Phil spread the word on hiking safely with your dogs and let people know to pay more attention when hiking with your pet.

Dog safety is critical and, unfortunately, doesn’t get enough attention. A lot of people bring their dogs on hikes simply because they are enthusiastic about going on an adventure with them, and they don’t think past the simple things like poop bags, water, and treats. Taking your dogs on a hike requires more care and attention, which is why Phil wanted to spread the word, create this challenge and share his knowledge of dog safety with the rest of the world.

Phil and his girlfriend, Mel, love hiking with their dogs and have taken multiple hiking trips together. With Phil’s dog Demi and Mel’s pup Jax, who unfortunately passed away from cancer at the young age of 4 (I am so sorry, Mel), they tested all kinds of different trails with them. Paying attention to their water intake, their behavior, where they had trouble walking on specific trails or where it seemed easier for them to go through. They became the perfect couple to go to if you need advice on hiking up in the mountains with your dog. Side note, they adopted another dog, Waylon, a Redbone Coonhound, and they can not wait to turn him into an experienced four-legged hiker!

A hiking challenge is not an easy task to create, so I asked him if he faced any roadblocks or difficulties.

Phil- “There were not any real massive challenges. Just getting everything on the website in order, making sure everything is broken down well for beginner hikers, writing out directions for the trailhead, etc.”

In order to get a sense of how hiking with your dog works, he recommends that you start with a short, flat trail before tackling a longer and more challenging one.

Since launching the challenge, Phil happily tells me that since 2020 over 100 people have started the challenge, and there have been 15 finishers so far. I quickly spoke with one of those finishers; you may remember her from another article I did. Madelyn Vankirk. After completing the ADK-9 challenge, she and her pup Onyx took a moment to share their experiences.

Madelyn- “Onyx and I did a few of the hikes last summer and finished them this past fall and winter. Jay Mountain was our favorite. A beautiful ridge walk at the top and a nice spot for lunch with a 360 view all around you.”

To this day, Madelyn visits these trails with Onyx and tells us she is helping spread the word to family and friends on how to stay safe when taking their dogs out on the trails.

Phil, Mel, and Madelyn know the safety precautions when hitting the trails with their dog, but only some do, and as Phil says, we want to spread dog safety awareness. So I created some safety tips for all of you dog-loving hikers out there to check out before heading out to your next adventure.

Always Check the Weather.

Spring, summer, and fall are the most popular times of the year for people to go on a hike. You always want to be sure you know what kind of weather you will be dealing with before heading out.

Winter– Pack a foam pad for a warm and dry spot for your dog to lie down on. Even though it may seem like your dog does fine at home in the snow, being out for a considerable amount of time in the cold can harm their delicate paws. Consider using a paw balm of vaseline to rub on the paws before going out in the snow. If your dog is still puppy, getting older, or a short hair, bring a jacket to throw on them to stay warm. Watch out for signs such as curling up, seeking a place for shelter, shivering, or odd behavior. This means it’s time to take your dog home.

Summer– Summer is when you must pay extra attention to your dog. If you think it’s not too hot for yourself, that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t feel the same way. Dogs feel a higher temp than humans do. Make sure you pack enough water for your pup and research your dog’s breed to see how much heat they are known to tolerate. Look for signs such as stumbling, heavy panting, bright red membranes, and loss of appetite. These systems could mean heat stroke.

Packing Your Supplies.

Be sure to have the right gear before your hike. A doggie first aid kit, lots and lots of poop bags, extra water, treats or food, a collapsible bowl, leash or harness, tweezers for ticks (The ticks out here in spring, summer, and fall are severe), and a towel or pad for a cooler place for the dog to lie down.

Grab a pen and write down the nine trails listed below and start hiking! Remember to take it slow if you and your pet are beginners.

List of the 9 trails.

  • Bartonville Mountain
  • Baxter Mountain
  • Buck Mountain
  • Castle Rock
  • Floodwood Mountain
  • Jay Mountain
  • Moxham Mountain
  • Mt. Van Hoevenberg
  • Silver Lake Mountain

Now that you and your dog know the trails and are fully prepared, it’s time to check out how you can officially start this challenge. Lets go!

Once you have hiked all nine peaks, complete the registration form and send the $10 fee to receive the patch. If you want a patch for your dog, send in an extra $5. You will then be an official ADK-9 finisher!

Phil and his girlfriend, Mel, live in Liverpool, NY, where they train their new pup to be a professional hiker. Both are substantial dog lovers who are always looking for different ways to help animals. Mel even did a fundraiser for Canine Lymphoma Education awareness and research! You can follow them both on Instagram and Facebook.

Always ensure your dog has updated tags and vaccination shots before going outside to adventure. Happy Tails!!!