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

Southwest Florida Summers

Summers in Southwest Florida can pretty hot and muggy so before setting out on the trail with your pooch, take into consideration the time of day, the bug situation, and possible water levels on the trails. Summer mornings may begin hot with the heat intensifying throughout the day. Southwest Florida summers also mean rain and thunderstorms, which keeps our ecosystem healthy and replenishes water levels, but which can also create desirable environments for pesky bugs, like mosquitoes, and can flood walking trails.  

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 rabies vaccination and heartworm and flea and tick prevention, know your pup’s physical limitations and your own, and bring plenty of water for both of you. And remember, if you will be walking near water, keep an eye out for alligators.

Hit the Trail

There are no bones about it. These are five great summer walks to take with your dog in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach 

Ann & Chuck Dever Regional Park in Englewood – Enjoy a 1.7 mile 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. Access the trail by parking by the pond, although it’s a nice walk if you park near the Recreation Center. An off-leash dog park is located here, too. 

Harborwalk in Punta Gorda – Stroll hand-and-leash with your pup along all (or some) of the 2.5-mile multi-use trail in 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 Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside is along this pathway and is a perfect spot to take a break and enjoy a refreshing beverage while admiring the Peace River. Dogs are welcome!

Bayshore Live Oak Park in Port Charlotte – With amazing water views and interesting historical nodes along the way, both you and your dog will love this dog-friendly linear park along the Peace River. There are restroom facilities and benches perfect for a pause to take in the view and have a drink of water. The breezes are refreshing and the sunsets are majestic. 

Cape Haze Pioneer Trail on the Cape Haze Peninsula – This straight, packed trail runs along the historical Charlotte Harbor and Northern Railroad easement, parallel to County Road 771/Gasparilla Road. The trail is about 8.5 miles in length and features a bike trail, nature walk, picnicking area, and restrooms. You pup will appreciate the dog watering basin at the water fountain! Go earlier in the day for a shaded path.

Laishley Park – Walk right along the water and enjoy the views and The Spirit of Punta Gorda artwork at this treasure of a park. Follow the trail to the Bike Trail Entrance and follow Retta Esplanade back to visit the Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida. Once you've completed your loop, about .9 miles, reward yourself with a bite at Laishley Crab House. Dogs are welcome on their patio.

Know the Rules

When visiting local parks, keep in mind that specific rules apply. In Charlotte County parks, they include:

  • Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 10’ 
  • You must stay in designated dog-friendly areas (some parks have playgrounds, pavilions and other areas where dogs are prohibited)
  • You must pick up after your pup
  • Aggressive dogs are not permitted.

Visit the Charlotte County website for additional information about dog-friendly parks. 

Happy wags to you and your canine companion!