Walking the Dog at the Santee Lakes

The skinny on where and when you can bring your dog to the gorgeous Santee Lakes.

A while back, I drove up to the booth at the entrance to the with my in the back with a slap-happy grin only found on a pup abut to stroll in the grass and bark at some ducks.

To my surprise, the kind lady manning the booth noticed the happy creature in the back and asked if I'd like a map of where in the park dogs are allowed. I thought about it for a moment, I hadn't really noticed dogs in the normal day use area of the Lakes. This, I came to realize, was because there is a specific area meant just for our four-legged friends.

You can get to the Pet Walk area through the walk-in gate at and Lake Canyon Road or by paying the $3 vehicle entrance fee and parking at the North Lake 5 parking lot.

There are four pet stations with bags and trash cans located around the Lake 6 and 7 Pet Walk loop. Make sure to use a leash and pick up after your pet.

Dog walking is allowed during the normal day use hours at the Lakes, Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to an hour before dusk, and Friday through Sunday from 6 a.m. to an hour before dusk.

These are the Pet Walk rules: 

  • Please clean-up after your dog.
  • Keep dog on leash at all times.
  • Please keep dog quiet.
  • No dogs allowed in day use areas.

Also, if you're camping at the Lakes, Santee Lakes Campground is pet friendly!  

According to their website: "Dogs are welcome in the campground while leashed and accompanied by their owner at all times. No more then 2 dogs per site. Use designated walking areas, don’t leave your dog unattended, no pet kennels and please pick up after your pet. Some folks like a quiet environment, so please keep your dog from barking.  Sorry, your pets are NOT allowed in the day use area of Santee Lakes."

Thayes May 23, 2011 at 11:19 PM
Thanks for the info! I thought only campers could have their dogs at Santee Lakes. Are there any picnic tables along the dog loop? If not, I don't think I want to pay $3.00 just to walk my dog if I can't make an afternoon of it by having a picnic or just spreading a blanket down to sit and read a book while my dog naps beside me. There are plenty of places to walk dogs for free and enjoy all the facilities. We take our dog to Mission Trails, Mast Park and Woodglen Vista Park. Mast has a fenced in area for the off-leash dogs and I noticed they put picnic tables in there too which is nice. However, there is no grass so it is rather dusty! Looking forward to the fenced in off-leash area that is going to be put up at Woodglen Vista. And....Abby is very cute!
SanteeNative 1967 May 23, 2011 at 11:45 PM
I don't belive there are any picnic tables in the dog friendly area. But if you enter through the walk-in gate at Fanita Parkway and Lake Canyon, there is no charge.
Crystal May 24, 2011 at 12:49 AM
I live a few blocks away from the lakes and would really love it if they allowed dogs throughout the whole park. I love walking around the lakes, but it would be even better if I could take my dog. If owners were required to pick up after their pets and keep them on leashes, I don’t see what’s so bad about allowing them?
mary doyle May 24, 2011 at 03:13 PM
I see dogs there in the day use sometimes and it frustrates me that they don't enforce the rules. I leave my dogs at home and then see other dogs there, not cool. Make them leave. If I follow the rules so should everyone else and I agree, I would love to take my dogs there but the fact is that a lot of owners ae lazy and don't pick up after their pets.
safesantee May 24, 2011 at 03:19 PM
The bad part you should see about allowing them is something most people learn very quickly in school, and that is one can (and in this case already did) ruin it for everyone. I hate stepping in dog crap and honestly there's more than one person in my neck of the woods that are seemingly unable to pick up after their dogs, so i approve of the pet loop away from where i walk when i fish.
Thayes May 24, 2011 at 04:54 PM
Thank you SanteeNative 1967 for the information about the walk-in gate. I did not know about it. I, too, do not like to step in dog poo, neither do I like to walk among beer and soda cans, fast food wrappers, left over food, cigarette butts and dirty diapers, but I have found all of those at our parks. The unfortunate fact is that there will always be people who are not responsible, who do not follow the rules, whether it be dog owners, parents, teenagers, etc. I don't think that is justifiable cause to punish those who do follow the rules. When I take my dog for a walk, I always take extra bags and clean up any poo I find even if it isn't my dog's. I also take a plastic bag and pick up trash along the walk because I want a nice place to walk. Is it fair to have to clean up after others? No. But it is my personal solution.
Crystal May 24, 2011 at 09:35 PM
Thayes, you forgot one... all the duck poo on the sidewalks. I walked on the road last time I was there because it was unavoidable on the sidewalks. Also, if they had those stations with poop bags all around the park I think people would be more apt to clean up after their dogs. I too, always clean up after my dog while on walks. I find other neighbors dog and cat poo in my front yard and it makes me mad, so I understand not wanting that to happen.
nettie 96 January 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM
My grandson is getting married at "The Island" Bride and bridal party are renting a cabin for 2 nights. Would love to have dogs in ceremony. Can we just walk them down the isle and then have someone return them to cabin?
Julauch March 20, 2014 at 08:42 PM
I entered through the Fanita and Lake Canyon gate with my dog, walked over the first lake right next to the camping area and was told to walk my dog at the pet walk or leave. The pet walk is a very short dirt path in the very back of the park looking at nothing but RVs and bushes basically. The rest of the park (which is pretty) is apparently not open to dogs. It was not worth it. I left. There is absolutely no reason for this silly rule. Just place some pet bag stations, trash cans and a few signs reminding owners to keep the dog on a leash and pick up after them like the rest of our parks do. Done. I am a short walk from the lakes and I am turned off enough not to go back again.


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