We all know the feeling: the concrete jungle takes over and you just have to get outside, into Mother Nature. One of the best ways to shed the stress of city life? Hiking. The trick is finding the best trails accessible by public transportation but that also offer a real outdoor escape. We chose four of America’s largest cities and built a short guide to making the most of these urban adventures. Whether you’re a local weekend warrior or just passing through, add these hiking trails to your bucket list.
Skyline Trail, Blue Hills Reservation
The breathtaking Skyline Trail is an 11.6-mile roundtrip rolling through the Blue Hills, a 7,000+ acre woods just minutes on a bus or commuter rail from Boston city center. From the Trailside Museum at the hills, take the left fork on the Coon Hollow Path and you’ll meet the Skyline Trail at the top of Great Blue Hill. Continue on and you’ll be rewarded with views of the Boston Harbor.
If you don’t want to do the entire hike, cut it short whenever you’re ready and relax for the après adventure in Boston. Head to Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel near the Boston Commons, for its swanky, sleek design, delicious cocktails, and skyline-harbor views.
Mile High Trail, City Park
What better way to celebrate Denver—the metropolis at 5,280 feet elevation—than taking a hike on the city’s 3.1-mile Mile High Loop. Head to City Park, a 330-acre urban green space smack dab in east-central Denver, home to the Denver Zoo, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Ferril and Duck Lakes, and a boathouse. There, buried in the heart of Denver, you’ll uncover this low-key gem of a trail that weaves through lush green space and between the lakes.
After, have some downtime at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver, which is just a stone’s throw from the city’s convention center and the happening LoDo neighborhood full of galleries, restaurants, sports bars and home to Coors Field and the Colorado Rockies MLB team.
Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park
Austin is a Southwest mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, graced with more than 350 miles of mountain biking and hiking trails within city limits. Walnut Creek Metropolitan Park is one hidden gem just a short Uber ride from downtown. It boasts a large green space of crisscrossed unmarked dirt paths (ideal for the explorer) and is ringed by the 15-mile Walnut Creek Loop. Along the way, you’ll catch bird’s eye views of the Austin skyline. Don’t forget to dip your feet in the creek on the way down.
In addition to the outdoors, discover Austin’s other two pastimes—BBQ and live music—at the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. Located right on Rainey Street in the city’s historic district, the Van Zandt sits front row to the best of the city’s musicians, venues, and eats. The best part? The rooftop deck pool where you can cool down post-adventure.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
California Coastal Trail
Next time you’re in the Bay Area and need to break away from the business of the Mission or Financial District, head further west and jump on the California Coastal Trail. Covering just over 10 miles, the trail connects the dots between the Golden Gate Bridge, Fort Point, the Presidio (a national park right in the heart of the city) and the Sutro Gardens. Access this trail by Muni or Uber and relish in feeling far away from the metropolis, even as you’re deep in it.
Enjoy the “urban chic” vibe of The Kimpton Buchanan at the crossroads between three of San Francisco’s coolest neighborhoods: Japantown, the Fillmore and Pacific Heights. Outdoor enthusiasts will feel right at home in this residential-style hotel, complete with an enclosed courtyard for lawn games and a top-tier sake program for post-exploration.
— Patty Hodapp
Patty Hodapp is a writer and editor, reporting from the intersection of fitness and adventure. She lives in Vail, Colo., and covers all things outdoors for several national magazines.