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Easy Urban Escapes

With wild hikes within an hour, these 15 cities have some of the best outdoor access in urban America—and the only prerequisite for exploring is a pair of sneakers. Plus, find out where to eat and drink like a local afterward. —Kate Siber

13 comments
Clayton Zylstra
Clayton Zylstra

Seeing how one can convievably hike to 14k within an hour of Denver, it is a wonder as to why Denver is not included in the list. 

Krista Redding
Krista Redding

While not as populous as most of the cities on this list, Redding, CA has 225+ miles of trails within 15 miles of the city, and a significant portion follows the Sacramento River. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is 318 square miles of trails, waterfalls, a lake, and more, and is a 10 minute drive from downtown Redding. Castle Crags State Park hosts some of the Pacific Crest Trail, exquisite views of Mt. Shasta, and 28 miles of hiking as well as swimming, fishing, and camping, and is a beautiful 45 minute drive from Redding. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a day trip from Redding, and includes crazy-cool trails through geothermal wonders like bubbling mudpots and steaming lakes, as well as hikes to Lassen Peak. Redding is located on Interstate 5 in far northern California, and it's MUCH cheaper to eat/shop/get a hotel there than San Francisco!

Michele Hackler
Michele Hackler

Another great location in the Chicago area is Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, about 90 min SW of the city. Sandstone bluffs overlooking the Illinois River, waterfalls in spring, vibrant fall color, and history of the site make it one of our favorite places.

schultzy beckett
schultzy beckett

Anne wipes away a tear. “It’s just so meaningful to be here, and to see a colleague get recognized for his achievements. I’m overcome with I guess I just feel very nourished. Nourished and prideful.”

Schultzy   http://www.hotel.com.au/

Søren Melchior
Søren Melchior

Almost any town/city in Alaska would fit in this list. Anchorage, Fairbanks, & Seward to name three larger ones with hiking spots minutes away.

Eva Maze
Eva Maze

San Diego county and city itself all have great trails.  Most very scenic too and weather to boot!!


B. Shaum
B. Shaum

Just curious, did you leave Denver out because it's an obvious one? I would think it deserves to be on this list.

Melissa Ann de Leon
Melissa Ann de Leon

Yes, Glacier National Park is a beautiful park and a stay of even 3 days is short.  A lot of scenic drives, hikes, foto ops, you will want to stay longer and come back.  Surrounding areas  like Flathead Lake are beautiful as well! More hikes, raft rides, camping, lodge or hotelling, whatever your pleasure is, it is all there.  One of the best vacations one can have, with Yellowstone and the Tetons closeby,  Idaho too. Wow, One week is short!

rose clark
rose clark

I agree good list.  but one that you don't have is glacier park in Montana.  they have many different hiking trails a few for people who can't do rugged hiking, some that have distance and grades and some for the several day trail.  all beautiful and wildlife can be spotted.  especially bears.  trails will have a sign saying it is closed due to bears.   you can hike, fish, camp, boat, or just relax.  it is gorgeous.  it is worth traveling to.

gabriele dellanave
gabriele dellanave

@rose clark 

Fair comment and I support Rose adding that the Tetons as well offer excellent, for any level, hiking/walking opportunities.

Anthony Wilkinson
Anthony Wilkinson

Excellent list, all wonderful places that I would love to explore more than I have been able to up to this point.

Just a note on Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City, the 30 miles distance listed in the article is from downtown SLC to the very TOP of the canyon (Brighton Ski Area).  Many of the hikes are even closer.

The mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon is actually only 17 miles from downtown, which calculates to about a 20 minute drive due to interstate highway travel speeds and typically light traffic.  And this is only one of a handful of canyons, ridges, and 11,000+ ft. peaks within a 30 minute drive of downtown, many even closer than the Cottonwood Canyons.  Amazing access!