Summer means longer days for enjoying the sunshine. If you’re visiting with your fur-kid in-tow, here are five great summer walks with your dog in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach. 

Southwest Florida Summers
Let’s talk about summers in Southwest Florida. They can be downright hot and muggy. A walking path may be idyllic during the winter, but it may be unpleasant during the summer. 

Before setting out on the trail with your pooch, take into consideration the time of day, the bug intensity, and water levels on the trails. Summer mornings begin hot and the heat intensifies throughout the day. Add in high humidity levels and conditions are uncomfortable for humans and even more so for your dog. 

Southwest Florida summers also mean rain and thunderstorms, which aren’t necessarily bad things. We need rain to keep our ecosystem healthy and replenish water levels. But wet conditions create desirable environments for pesky bugs, like mosquitoes, and flood trails creating soupy walks.  

If you choose to venture out on the trail with your dog, take that walk either early in the morning or closer to sunset. Bring insect repellent, make sure your dog is up to date with his rabies vaccination and heartworm and flea and tick prevention, know your pup’s physical limitations and yours, and bring plenty of water for you and your fur-kid. And remember, if you will be walking near water, keep an eye out for alligators. 

Five Great Summer Walks With Your Dog in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach
There are no bones about it. These are five great summer walks with your dog in Englewood, Port Charlotte, and Punta Gorda. 

Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park – Enjoy a 1.7 round-trip and loop trail through pine flatwoods and scrub in this Charlotte County park. The Red Trail is mostly limestone covered with light sandy-soil and pine needles. It’s wide and offers partial shade. A pedestrian bridge crosses Oyster Creek and offers a nice view of the mangrove-lined waterway. The trail leads into Oyster Creek Environmental Park. Learn more about this hike on FloridaHikes.com. Access the trail by parking by the pond although it’s a nice walk if you park near park’s Recreation Center. An off-leash dog park is located here, too. (6791 San Casa Dr., Englewood)

Dick Cuda Trail –Located in Babcock Ranch, America’s first solar-powered community, the Dick Cuda Trail is a 2-mile multiuse, loop trail, popular with bicyclists and hikers. The trail is in Sunset Park and leads along pine trees and wetlands to a pretty waterfront observation area. You may observe various wading birds and spot an alligator or two. There are also off-leash dog parks for Fido to run free. Afterwards, head to Table & Tap for lunch or dinner. The patio area is dog-friendly. (42201 Lake Babcock Dr, Punta Gorda)

Harborwalk – Stroll hand-and-leash with your pup along all (or some) of the 2.5-mile (one-way) multiuse trail in the City of Punta Gorda. This pathway, which connects Bayfront Health with Fishermen’s Village, is shared with pedestrians and bicyclists and eases along mangroves, the scenic Peace River, green spaces, and local businesses. This is a busy walkway so make sure your dog is appropriately socialized. TT's Tiki Bar at the Four Points by Punta Gorda Harborside is along this pathway. This is a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy a refreshing beverage while admiring the Peace River. Dogs are welcomed! (Punta Gorda) 

Larry Taylor Kiwanis Park – This sweet urban park offers concrete and natural pathways under gorgeous shade trees. The park has a fitness trail with various exercise stations so expect to see other people in the park. A pedestrian bridge crosses the C-shaped pond and a great place to look for birds, turtles, and alligators – from a safe distance. This Charlotte County park also has a cute gazebo to sit and admire Mother Nature’s work. (501 Donora St., Port Charlotte)

Ollie’s Pond Park – This 41-acre manmade drainage facility is a birder’s paradise and enjoyable walk with your dog. The paved walkway is smooth and meanders under partial shade and open sky. Species of birds vary by season and some spotted in and around the pond include American coot, anhinga, green heron, pileated woodpecker, pine warblers, and roseate spoonbills. The Peace River Audubon Society has additional information about birdwatching at this Charlotte County park.  (18235 Avon Ave., Port Charlotte)

Know the Rules
When visiting local parks, keep in mind specific rules apply. In Charlotte County parks, some of those rules include dogs must be on a leash no greater than 10’, you must stay in designated dog-friendly areas (some parks have playgrounds, pavilions and other areas where dogs are prohibited), pick up after your pup, and aggressive dogs are not permitted. Visit the Charlotte County website for additional information about dog-friendly parks and the City of Punta Gorda website for rules about dogs in their parks.

Happy wags to you and your canine companion!