7 Great Hikes Near Big Cities
Getting your nature fix doesn’t have to require living in a mountain town or driving countless hours to a trailhead
We all dream of remote, mind-blowingly awesome hikes deep in a rugged mountain range. But for most of us, that’s not always convenient. Thankfully, hiking doesn’t have to involve going hours into the mountains for it to be amazing. If you know where to look, you can find some surprisingly impressive hiking trails not far from downtown. Here are seven of our favorites.
Salomon's OUTline hiking shoeLightweight and engineered with great flexibility and foothold, OUTline is as comfortable as a running shoe but is ready for every mountain adventure. Find your new go-to shoe in womens or mens.
Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain
Portland, Oregon area | Distance: 6.8 miles
Alex Borsuk, a sports dietitian and Salomon ambassador based in Portland, says her favorite local trail is about 50 miles east of the city and makes for the perfect sunset hike. The steep, out-and-back hike to Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain gains about 1,500 feet in elevation in 3.4 miles. The trail wanders through dense forest until it reaches Mirror Lake, about a mile in. On a clear day, the reflection of Mount Hood is as Insta-worthy as they come, and the views of the peak keep getting better as you go up. “A few days ago my husband and I went out after work and camped at the lake. We left town at 6 p.m. and were there before sunset,” says Borsuk.
Salt Lake City, Utah | Distance: 7 miles
Nowhere is the the transition from big city to backcountry terrain as abrupt as Mount Olympus. The trailhead is on a busy street, but within a half mile you’re already into the alpine. The hike is consistently steep, gaining over 4,000 feet in elevation in 3.5 miles, with a technical-yet-fun scramble to the summit. It’s a good peak for aspiring mountaineers, just be sure not to underestimate how strenuous it is.
The Marlboro Trail
Boston Area: Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire | Distance: 2.2 miles
With a top elevation breaking 3,000 feet, Monadnock is the biggest peak in more than 30 miles, but it’s only 62 miles from Boston. Multiple trails set out for the bald summit, part of a 33 mile network, but Matt Boles, store manager with the EMS in Manchester, favors the west side trails like the 3.8-mile out-and-back and moderately technical Marlboro Trail. “It’s a little steeper, and a little shorter, and a lot less crowded,” says Boles. “A decent hiker can get to the summit in two hours.”
Seven Falls Trail
Tucson, Arizona | Distance: 7.9 miles
Five mountain ranges and Saguaro National Park surround the city of Tucson, so access isn’t an issue for the million-plus residents. The moderate Seven Falls Trail, located in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, is just half an hour from downtown Tucson. From the parking lot, start up the Bear Canyon Trail and keep an eye out for the sign toward Seven Falls, making minor stream crossings along the way as you follow a relatively shady path surrounded by cacti, cholla, and cottonwood trees. You’ll hear the waterfall before you see it from across the canyon, cascading into tempting pools. Make sure to leave enough time for a swim before returning the way you came.
Ridgetop Trail, Beaman Park
Nashville, Tennessee | Distance: 4.2 miles
Ethan Alexander and M. E. Sorci (trail names: Critter and Garbelly) spend a lot of time hiking—they did the Pacific Crest Trail in 2015 and a good chunk of the Colorado Divide Trail last summer. Back at home base in Nashville, their favorite place for a quick nature fix is Beaman Park, just 15 minutes outside of town. There are three different trails that cover a little over seven miles, but the 4.2-mile Ridgetop Trail, via the Highland trailhead, offers a solid post-work out-and-back through forests with massive oak and hickory trees. “Every time we’re there, we only see one or two other people. Nashville is in a basin, and Beaman is at the edge of this basin, so it’s this high point on the outskirts of town,” says Ethan. Tip: Have a post-hike beer nearby at Southern Grist.
Chicago Area: Castle Rock State Park, Oregon, Illinois | Distance: 1–6 miles
To overnight camp at this state park a few hours drive from Chicago, you’ll need to canoe or kayak in on the Rock River. That exclusivity, when combined with a half dozen miles of hiking, nature, and overlook trails, sounds like a sweet weekend. The North Trails are rolling, strenuous in spots, and take you from ancient sandstone rock formations to deep woods to wildflower meadows to a touch of the prairie.
Royal Arch Trail, Chautauqua Park
Boulder, Colorado | Distance: 3.2 miles
From the Chautauqua Park trailhead, just a mile and a half from the main drag of Pearl Street, hikers can access dozens of miles of trails that explore the Flatirons—the iconic rock formations that dominate the Boulder skyline. The moderate, 3.2-mile Royal Arch Trail is a perfect intro to the area, serving up views of the First, Second, and Third Flatirons. Start by hopping on the mellow Bluebell Trail before joining the Royal Arch Trail as it winds up through the forest before eventually steepening to ascend a talus field. Off to the right you’ll see the Flatirons in profile and make one final scramble that leads to the sandstone arch.
Los Angeles Area: Topanga State Park, Topanga Canyon, California | Distance: 4.5 miles
You can get to the ship’s prow-like overlook of Eagle Rock via an out and back on the Musch Trail, or make a 4.5-mile loop out of it (recommended) by incorporating the Eagle Springs Fire Road for the up-track. Once on top of the pockmarked sandstone, the views extend to the Pacific with the Santa Monica Mountains in the foreground. To maximize the views, descend the singletrack of the Musch Trail.
Why is it called OUTline? Because we colored outside the lines when we designed this shoe. The OUTline blurs the line between performance hiking shoe and lifestyle looker with its versatility. From a sturdy midsole to premium traction outsole and GORE-TEX protection, we packed everything you need for day hiking to overnight backpacking trips into a lightweight (300 gram) package. Plus, with its sleek running shoe based last, welded seams and on point colors, you’ll find yourself reaching for the OUTline if you’re hitting the trail for some miles or hitting the bar for some beers. Click to see styles in mens and womens. Hero photo credit: Cam McLeod