Central Coast Dog Walks
"Training" with Your Dog
by Scott Broecker
Although it’s always a good idea to keep your dogs up on their basic obedience skills, this kind of dog “training” dosen’t involve endless commands, rewards, classrooms, or clickers. Instead just pack up the family, some snacks, water bottle and a portable dog bowl and head to the Santa Cruz mountains for a unique experience you will never forget!
Upon pulling into the parking lot at Roaring Camp, the relaxation sets in. Just looking out at the huge expanse of trees, ponds, and green grass, you can breathe a big sigh of relief as you climb out of your car to stretch.
Cross through one of the two covered bridges in the park and you are instantly transported back to the 1880’s when one of these bridges was the main entrance into the town of Felton. Showing up at least a half hour or so before the scheduled train departure will give you time to buy your tickets (dogs ride free), explore the grounds, visit the quaint shops, sit and relax, or take a pre-train hike into the Henry Cowell State Park redwoods.
Before you know it your classic 1906 original narrow gauge steam engine rounds the corner with its bell sounding and great plumes of steam shooting high into the air! After the train pulls up to the station it’s not long before the conductor calls out his familiar cry, ”All Aboard,” and cranks the whistle a few times.
Most of the cars on the train are open-air, allowing for spectacular unobstructed viewing. The trip (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes) takes you up and around Bear Mountain and through great groves of towering redwoods. Some of the redwoods are over one thousand years old and reach heights of 300 feet. Passengers sit on wooden benches that run down both sides of each car. Your dog can sit or lay comfortably in the center isle as long as the conductor can make it by when he makes his rounds to collect the tickets. Along the way, the conductor narrates the trip nicely by filling you in on the history of the railroad and property, and by telling you some of the back stories that go along with it.
Passengers are allowed to disembark at the top of Bear Mountain and go for a short walk into a spectacular grove of tall redwoods called “Cathedral Woods” named for the way the light pours through the tree tops like it would through stained glass. Once there, you are given about fifteen minutes to explore before getting back on the train. You also have options of hiking back down Bear Mountain trail or hanging out for a while longer and catching the next train, providing there is still another run on the schedule. The stop is a great opportunity for you and your dog to get out and stretch, use the facilities and walk among these incredible trees.
Our most recent trip on the railroad is summed up best by our canine correspondent Yukon:
“I have gone lots of places with my mom, but I must bark, ‘The train was the best trip of all!’ Imagine the sound of a whistle so loud it would drown out the loudest howl. Imagine a potpourri of smells so delightful any dog will want to keep his nose to the air so as not to miss one scent. I couldn’t believe how fast that train cruised through the forest. It was an exhilirating ride. As the train pulled back into the station, I was greeted by an anxious group of two leggeds and four leggeds. I barked with joy to let them know what a treat they were in for!”
For more information about Roaring Camp Railroads’ train schedules, fares, directions, and special events, visit www.roaringcamp.com.