Part of moving to a new place is finding your niche and where you want to spend your time. The same is true for our furry friends. Luckily, Columbia is loaded with resources devoted to dogs, including three fenced dog parks and two leash-free areas. We’ll break them down for you so you and your pup can start exploring!
1. Twin Lakes Recreation Area
2500 Chapel Hill Road
This park includes three fenced-in areas that meet different doggie needs. Lakeside Dog Park welcomes dogs of all sizes, and it boasts a 16-acre fishing lake that serves as its west boundary. Paws Pond Dog Park was made for small dogs — they must be no taller than 18 inches at the shoulder — and includes a small pond. Off-Season Dog Park is exactly what it sounds like: a dog park that’s open from December through February. This is the only dog park at Twin Lakes Recreation Area that is open during the winter; unlike the other two, it does not feature any body of water so dogs of all sizes can be protected from falling through the ice. This park was actually created after the Columbia fire department was dispatched nine times during one winter season to rescue dogs that had done just that.
Additionally, Twin Lakes also offers a walking path that connects to the MKT Trail. It’s perfect for when your dog has had enough social time and wants to explore nature — as long as they’re on a leash. Restrooms are open April 15 to Oct. 15.
Connect with CoMo’s community of dog owners by liking the Twin Lakes Dog Park Facebook page.
2. Garth Nature Area
2799 N. Garth
Located north of Interstate 70, this park offers a 3-acre fenced area complete with a pond and picnic tables. There are 1.6 miles of wetland trails nearby, and the park connects to the 4.8-mile Bear Creek Trail, so you can take your pup on a walk as long as they’re on a leash. Parking and restrooms are available year-round. There is also a dog wash station and a drinking fountain with a pet bowl, which is unavailable during the winter.
3. Indian Hills Park
5009 Aztec Blvd.
Indian Hills Park, located northwest of I-70, has a 1.5-acre fenced dog park on its west side, directly beside the parking lot. Unlike the other dog parks in Columbia, there is no water access. Restrooms are nearby and open April 15 to Oct. 15.
Off-Leash Areas per Columbia Parks and Recreation
Grindstone Nature Area
2011 Old 63 South
Dogs have almost 200 acres to roam in this beautiful nature area. This park has woods, open fields, bluffs, and Grindstone Creek running through the middle of the property. However, dog owners must keep their off-leash dogs away from the Hinkson Creek Trail that also runs through the property. There is a parking lot off of Old 63 South with a picnic shelter and restrooms nearby.
Cosmo Park – Bear Creek Nature
1615 Business Loop 70 West
Dogs have about 70 acres to run leash free in the Bear Creek Nature Area located on the north end of Cosmo Park. However, dog owners must keep their off-leash dogs away from the Bear Creek Trail and Rhett’s Run Mountain Bike Trail that also run through the property. Park users can access this nature area from Skate Park parking lot.
Dog Park Etiquette
Dog park etiquette signs are posted at every designated dog park in Columbia.
- Dogs and owners enter off-leash area at their own risk.
- Handlers must clean up after their dogs and dispose of all trash. (Ord. 5-67)
- Dogs will not be left unattended and must be under voice control at all times. Dogs that cannot be controlled must be on a leash at all times. (Ord. 5-58)
- There is a maximum of four (4) dogs per family. (Ord. 5-60)
- Dogs must be leashed when outside of the fenced area. Handler should have the leash in hand when inside of the area. (Ord. 5-58)
- No human food is permitted in the fenced/off-leash area. Handlers using dog treats must assume the risk of safe handling.
- Prong, choke and spike collars must be removed for safety reasons.
- To keep the dog park clean, the grooming of dogs at the park is prohibited.
- No animals other than dogs shall be permitted in the area.
- Failure to abide by the park rules may result in loss of privileges or owners may be ticketed.
Apply for a City of Columbia animal license at any veterinarian office located within city limits. You may purchase animal tags at the Columbia Cashier’s Office located on the first floor of the Daniel Boone Building at 701 E. Broadway. You must provide proof of rabies vaccination to receive animal tags.
For Boone County Animal Control Ordinance, click to view PDF.
Looking to establish vet care? Rolling Hills Veterinary Hospital has cared for Columbia’s pets for more than 50 years.
Love animals and looking to volunteer? Here are local nonprofit organizations that need your help!
Second Chance is dedicated to re-homing unwanted animals.
Unchained Melodies is dedicated to freeing chained/penned dogs and bringing them into the home with as a companion pet.
Central Missouri Humane Society provides shelter and care for Columbia’s abandoned animals.