Dog parks and off-leash areas in the Snoqualmie Valley

[Article by contributing writer, North Bend resident and owner of Miss Lola’s Academy for Wayward Dogs.]

This was a difficult article to write because some of our dog friendly areas in the Snoqualmie Valley are not so clear when it comes to leash rules. I started off intending to write an article about Three Forks off-leash dog park. In researching that article, I realized there is much confusion about what areas leash or off leash. Some areas are off-leash dog parks; some areas are not designated off leash parks, but dogs may be off-leash; and lastly, some areas are strictly leashed areas.

Confused? I sure was.

To make matters worse, when concentrating on specific areas like Rattlesnake Lake, I realized there were two – sometimes three – government entities making the rules for that area!

After many phone calls, I ruled out King County and the City of North Bend and found that the Rattlesnake Watershed Recreation area is managed by Seattle Public Utilities; the Iron Horse Trail and parking lot are managed by Washington State Parks; BUT since it is in rural King County, the King County code is in effect.

Still with me??

Ok, so now to decipher the signage. The sign when you enter the parking lot for the recreation area says “Keep Animals Under Control at All Times.” Another on the trail around the lake says “Keep your Dog Under Control at All Times. Your dog is on a leash or under Voice Command” (Heels when told, stays; refrains from barking; is restrained from approaching any other animal or person). The sign across the street says “Pets on Leash Strictly Enforced, $87.00 Fine

Huh? What’s a dog owner to do?

In talking to many dog owners at the park and on various Facebook forums, I realized there was a general confusion about what all this means. Some insisted that Rattlesnake Lake and Tanner Landing are off-leash parks and that if you don’t like dogs, well, just don’t go there! I used to go to Rattlesnake Lake often with my elderly dog only to have to leave quickly because of the out-of-control pooches wreaking havoc on everyone on the beach. The view that the area is an off-leash park is so prevalent that it spurred me to do all this research.

Here is what I know: the only designated off-leash park in the area is the Three Forks Off-leash Park.  This is the place where you can go and not worry about leashed dogs; people who don’t like dogs; or old dogs like mine was.  No one should be worried about getting dirty or getting jumped on. Out-of-control (while I don’t recommend it) is kind of the name of the game. It’s a great, beautiful park. However, if you walk to the park on the Snoqualmie Valley trail, your pooch needs to be on a leash or you face potential fines.

As for Rattlesnake and Iron horse? Iron Horse is an on-leash park, strictly enforced. Rattlesnake is NOT an off-leash park, but your dog may be off-leash as long as it is under strict voice control. That means your dog will stop on a dime and return to you when you call, no exceptions

Off-leash training is a difficult task, for sure, but one that is crucial for the safety of those around you and for the safety of your dog.  Even if your dog is the nicest dog on earth, that other dog wearing the leash may be restrained for a very good reason. Keeping your dog and those around you safe should be your number one priority.

The bottom line is, all dog owners should know what they have at the end of their leash before they decide to take that leash off. I have a terrier who LOVES to chase small furry things so she stays on leash. Some dogs, like mine, have a very strong prey drive – the instinctive inclination of a carnivore to find, pursue and capture prey- and unless they are extraordinarily well trained should probably stay on leash.

Other dogs just have a hard time playing well with others and likely aren’t good off-leash candidates. Some have such great noses or run so fast that they are there one minute and gone the next. They too would benefit from leashes and fences.

So to be absolutely safe, know the rules of the space you are in and know your dog. The rest of us will thank you….and me. Trust me, Bee is a real fool at the dog park and you DON’T want her there.

Good Luck and good playing.

Bee thanks you for following leash rules!

Comments are closed.


  • Thanks for the clarity on these parks! It does need to be mentioned that Tanner Landing and the adjacent trail area is NOT an off-leash area. We keep our dogs on leash at all times and have been accosted by off-leash dogs that are clearly not under the control of their owners. As you note, this is a potentially hazardous situation as my dogs feel threatened by a loose dog and behavior can escalate quickly.

  • Three Forks Off Leash Dog Park is great, and truly our favorite place to go with Pebbles to play fetch and socialize with other dogs. Here’s a link to the official site:
    And here’s a link to the unofficial Facebook group for the park:

  • Best off-leash park in the valley is We are a truly special place for your active dogs.

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