Hiker’s Handbook: Best U.S. Hiking Cities

Most of us will never have the time for a 6-month thru hike, but a good day hike can be as refreshing as a week in the backcountry. And if you know where to look, trails abound—even near a concrete jungle. Here are some of the best U.S. cities for getting that backcountry fix in easy-access doses.

Portland

Smack in the middle of town, Forest Park, Portland’s 5,200-acre urban wilderness, is laced with 80 miles of hiking trails. An hour’s drive to the south, in Silver Falls State Park, the 7.8-mile Trail of Ten Falls hosts ten waterfalls that trickle down steep canyon walls. Elk Meadows Loop, in Mount Hood National Forest, offers alpine flavor.

Denver

For most people, the capital of Colorado is all about getting some altitude, and the nearby trails don’t disappoint. Mount Bierstadt, one of Colorado’s most accessible fourteeners, and the famed alpine of Rocky Mountain National Park, are both within two hours of downtown.

Washington, D.C.

The nation’s capital doesn’t have a reputation as an outdoor town. A quick jaunt into centrally located Rock Creek Park—a 1,754-acre hardwood forest crisscrossed by 32 miles of hiking trails—is enough to change most people’s minds. Check out the Rock Creek Ramble, a creek-side stroll through a section of the park that was frequented by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Los Angeles

Look at a map of L.A. and you’ll discover that the city is surrounded by green, and that means great hiking. The 6.1-mile Mishe Mokwa Trail to Sandstone Peak, in the Santa Monica Mountains, offers a little elevation and big views of the surrounding mountains and coastline.

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