The Dog Commons On-Leash Trails

Couple walking their dog on the dog trails

As part of the Nature-Based Therapeutic Services at the Arboretum, the Dog Commons On-Leash Trails is a place where two-legged and four-legged visitors discover opportunities for physical activity, education, socialization and emotional restoration. It incorporates trails and interpretive messaging with opportunities for seasonal outdoor activities with a canine companion. 

This area is not "just an on-leash dog trail." It is about the entire experience of being outside in plant-rich landscape with an animal companion. A goal of the Dog Commons is to inspire a shift from walking the dog as a chore to walking the dog as a mindful and restorative experience that benefits health and well-being for humans and pets. Every human must have a reservation to enter the grounds, click here to reserve your ticket.

Dog-added membership is required

For dogs to access the Dog Commons, an Arboretum membership that includes dogs is required.  Upon entry, Arboretum gatehouse staff will scan your membership card. Each membership card with dogs included will be allowed entry.  

For information on UMN animal policy and how it applies to our Arboretum click here

On-Leash Dog Trails Distinctive Features

  • 65 acre on-leash dog trail system; two main trails of varied length, linked by short connector trails
  • Portable outhouse at the front entrance to the Dog Commons
  • Easy access and convenient parking
  • Water fountain for both dogs and people at the front entrance to the Dog Commons
  • Dog waste bags and receptacles situated along the trails

Rules for the Dog Commons On-Leash Trails

To ensure safety and enjoyment for all, all users of the Dog Commons must strictly observe the following regulations.

  • All dog vaccinations and licenses must be kept current during your membership and you must have a current record of vaccinations.
  • This area is typically open when our grounds are open to the public and closes over the winter. Be sure to check our open hours before your visit
  • Use of the entire area is at your own risk. Each owner is solely responsible for their and their dog’s actions and assumes all liability for damages suffered by any person or dog injured by the member’s dog(s) while using the Dog Commons.
  • No smoking, alcohol, food, or glass containers are permitted.
  • Dogs are to remain leashed and monitored closely at all times.
  • Members are required to clean up after their dog(s). All waste must be bagged and disposed of properly in the marked receptacles.
  • Members are responsible to ensure their dog(s) do not dig holes or cause damage to trail plants or property.
  • Prong, pinch, choke or spike collars and retractable leashes are not permitted in the on-leash dog area for safety reasons.
  • All dogs entering the dog trail must be healthy and must wear a collar, current rabies tag and dog license if required by your city’s ordinance. Dogs with contagious health conditions are not permitted in the park.
  • There will be regular maintenance of the Dog Commons. During those times, the trails will be closed; advance notice will be given if possible.
  • For all emergencies, call 911. For non-emergencies, during normal business hours, call the Arboretum 612-624-2200 and state your name, how you can be reached, your location and reason for the call. Any serious injury should be reported promptly to the police.
  • All or any rules are subject to change without notice as deemed necessary for the safety and well-being of both humans and dogs.


From our main Gatehouse, follow the signs past the parking lots to the Learning Center. Drive past the Learning Center and then take the first left turn up the hill to overflow parking. Entry to Dog Commons is on the right (west) edge of overflow parking.

Trail Map

The Dog Commons features distinctive borders and two trails:

Orange On-Leash Trail (shorter distance) 

Red On-Leash Trail (1.3 miles)