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Finding Hiking Spots In and Near a City

Finding Hiking Spots In and Near a City

11/4/18

The concrete jungle is the last place you would expect to hit the trails. Unless you live in Jackson, Wyoming it’s hard to get to some serious hiking within or near city limits. But adventure is everywhere, and humans, (even city slickers) have a primal connection with it that cannot be quenched. Because of this, many cities have natural spots that are easily accessible. Here’s how to find them.

Find “The Big Park”: Every city has that one massive park to get a dose of fresh air. New York’s Central Park is easily the most recognizable, but other cities have their version. In DC its Rock Creek Park. Philadelphia has Wissahickon Valley Park, and Phoenix has South Mountain Park. The easiest way to find your city’s park is to go on Google Maps and find the biggest green space in the city. This park will become one of your favorite spots in the city in no time.

Explore Every Park: A lot of the parks you’ll explore will be your average park with a playground and sidewalks. Occasionally, though, you’ll find a hidden gem that’s a bit more rustic and untamed. Not many people in the city are looking for that kind of escape so close to home, and these parks usually remain a secret only to those who seek them.

Discover Public Gardens: While they aren’t wild and untamed, public gardens are beautiful green spaces where you can learn about plants much more in depth than just walking through the woods. Many of them will have exhibits or informational signs about the species you are looking at. Make sure to go during that garden’s specific peak season to see the plants in bloom. And bring a book and blanket for a relaxing afternoon read.

Find Your National Park or National Forest: If you have access to a vehicle, you should be able to reach some pretty spectacular hiking and camping destinations within a few hours drive. (If you don’t have a car, learn how to make friends with cars here.) Again, Google maps can be a great way to locate these areas by zooming out from your city and finding the largest green spot on the map. The NPS website is also a good way to search by state.

Use an App: The Hiking Project and All Trails are two great free apps that share some amazing information on trails in your area. They’ll give you pictures, trail descriptions, and even elevation profile so you know what you’re getting yourself into before you even hit the trail. The web versions included in this paragraph are just as good as the apps.

Do a Historic Trail: While nature is a little harder to come by in major metro areas, history is abundant. A lot of cities have historic trails that will bring you past sites critically important to the city’s or even the country’s history. To find them, visit your city’s government website, or simply web search for “Historic Trails Near Me”. Exploring the past can be just as fascinating as exploring the great outdoors.

If you’re itching to lace up your boots, go for it and keep some of these tips in mind while searching for your next micro-adventure!