The Best Hiking Spots Near Your Favorite Cities
Whether you leave the skyscrapers of New York City behind for a trek on the historic first part of the Appalachian Trail, or head 30 minutes outside of London for a stroll in the English Countryside, spending a little time with nature is a great way to stay sane in the hubbub of urban life. Our recommendations? Read on.
Lindsey Campbell is the Associate Audience Engagement Editor. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @lyndzicampbell.
Near New York City? Hike Bear Mountain
Rising from the west bank of the Hudson River, Bear Mountain and its surrounding park boast trails ranging from .4 miles to 6.5 miles, with options to extend your hike even more. For a little history, hop on the first original section of the Appalachian Trail, opened in 1923, up to the Perkins Memorial Tower for panoramic views of the Hudson River Valley. (Insider tip: the rocks around the tower actually offer a better view than the top of the structure itself.) Or, if you’re looking for a harder hike, take the Breakneck Ridge & Bull Hill Trails to the top—a 9.6 mile loop for experienced hikers only—and be prepared to use your hands, there are some steep spots!
Near London? Hike North Downs Way
Stroll through miles and miles of English countryside on this long-distance trail. The 156-mile path runs along the chalk ridge of North Downs, through Surrey to the Kent Coast at Dover. And while you may only choose to do a small part of it, their website breaks the full trek into day-long segments.
Near Vancouver? Hike Burnaby Mountain
Filled with easy-to-follow, well marked trails, Burnaby Mountain—just 30 minutes outside Vancouver—makes for the perfect day trip. Once at the top, treat yourself to dinner with a view at Horizon’s Restaurant. You’ll get spectacular views of the city and, should you plan it correctly, a great place to catch the Celebration of Light Fireworks festival on the English Bay.
Near Paris? Hike Fontainebleau
Craving a little bit of a challenge? Leave the City of Light behind for a day of hiking and bouldering in the Fontainebleau Forest. While the forest holds a special place in French history—it served as the muse for many artists and the hunting grounds for generations of royalty—it’s best known for its towering sandstone boulders and enchanting surroundings. For a quick scenic look at the forest, start your day with the 30-minute trek up to the Tour Denecourt, a medieval-looking tower built in the late 1800s. From there you can continue on to one of the many intersecting loop paths; there's enough for an all-day adventure.
Near Chicago? Hike Moraine Hills State Park
The beauty of Moraine Hills State Park is a unique one, its landscape carved by glaciers. Along its paths hikers will find moraines—earth and stones carried and deposited by a glaciers—as well as lakes, marshes and miles of trails. The paths are long enough to take all day, so give yourself enough time to experience the rare plant life, wildlife, and history in the area. Stop at one of the designated viewing platforms throughout the park for views of Lake Defiance, one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois, and head to western most trailhead for a look at McHenry Dam and Fox River.
Near Istanbul? Hike Erikli Plateau
One of the region's most beautiful hiking destinations is about two hours away from Istanbul. Across the Sea of Marmara lies the Erikli Plateau—grounds lush with fruit trees, streams, and waterfalls. Starting near Teşvikiye village, a moderate 1.5-hour hike will lead you to a tree-covered alcove, where you will find the double cascades of Erikli Waterfall.
Near Tuscany? Hike Isola del Giglio
The almost untouched island—90 percent lies uninhabited—offers multiple trails filled with sun, sand and some incredible views of the Mediterranean. Soak in the sun or stop for a mid-hike picnic on one of the many granite outcrops that makeup the island a while enjoying the view of nearby Giglio isle.
Near Denver? Hike Red Rocks Park
It’s no secret Colorado is an adventure-seeker’s paradise. The state is filled with gorgeous mountains just waiting to climbed—many of which are a short ways away from its capital. Head to the Red Rocks Trail—a 6-mile long path that winds through the meadows of the park—just before dawn for an incredible sunrise.
Near San Francisco? Hike Twin Peaks
A go-to for both tourists and locals, Twin Peaks offers an unprecedented 360-degree view of San Francisco at its summits. And, while it’s not the tallest mountain in the area—a mere 5-feet shorter than nearby Mount Davidson—the must-hike spot has plenty to offer. Gorgeous plant and wildlife surround the trails; keep your eye out for the endangered Mission Blue Butterfly—native to the area, the species flies low to the ground to avoid the strong winds. Don’t feel like such a rustic hike, but still want to catch the view? Head over to the official stairway for a scenic climb to the top.
Near Atlanta? Hike Stone Mountain
With 15 miles of hiking and walking trails, Stone Mountain Park is only 30 minutes outside Atlanta. The scenic routes range in distance and difficulty, with a direct, one-mile trail straight to the top where you’ll get great views of the Confederate Memorial Carving, the Atlanta skyline and Appalachian Mountains.
Near Rome? Hike Villa Gregoriana
When visiting Rome, one expects outings filled with history—every building, every turn has a story from the past. So, naturally, one of the best hikes near the city would have the same. Villa Gregoriana—a name given by Pope Gregorious 16th when he created the park—is set atop a valley outside of Rome in the town of Tivoli. Its lush paths are filled with beautiful waterfalls, gorges and ravines that give way to views of ancient ruins and temples from the Roman Acropolis. But, don’t let its beauty fool you; this is a steep walk. For an extra adventure head to Sirens Grotto, a natural limestone cave, for more exploring.