If you live in one of these seven major U.S. cities, you can take an incredible hike without going far from the city. They're also helpful to know if you're visiting and want some fresh air and exercise. If you're strapped for time but want to get out into nature, these hikes offer the best of both worlds.
Camelback Mountain (Phoenix, AZ)
Camelback Mountain is a challenging climb with two different routes to choose from, the Echo Canyon Trail and the Cholla Trail. If you think you're up for the challenge, it's only 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix. The main reason why Camelback Mountain can be so treacherous is that in Phoenix, it gets HOT. Inexperienced hikers and tourists often underestimate how much water to bring to be successful. We recommend hiking early in the morning or in the cooler months. Both trails are relatively short, 1.2 miles each way for Echo Canyon, and 1.5 miles each way for Cholla Trail. Once you get to the top, you experience incredible views of Phoenix and the surrounding area.
Mount Falcon (Denver, CO)
There are unmatched hiking trails near Denver if you're willing to drive an hour or two. But what if you want to go for a hike and don't have much time? Morrison, Colorado, just west of Denver, offers many great trails. Best of all, they're less than half an hour from downtown Denver. Mount Falcon West Loop is an easy 3.6-mile trek that hikers can make longer by adding on adjacent loops. One cool feature is the old fire tower near the top.
Big Cottonwood Canyon (Salt Lake City, UT)
Since Salt Lake City is nestled at the base of a mountain, it only makes sense that there is a ton of great hiking opportunities nearby. A favorite destination for locals is Big Cottonwood Canyon, only 30 miles from downtown Salt Lake. There are many hikes here for all types of explorers. Brighton Lakes Trail has some incredible scenery, and if you're lucky, you'll even see a moose. Even if you don't though, you won't be disappointed by the wildflowers and the many lakes. You can choose how many lakes you see, depending on how long you want to hike.
Mount Tamalpais (San Francisco, CA)
Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is Mount Tamalpais State Park — a favorite urbanite getaway. Visitors and locals alike love this state park for its proximity to the city and the beautiful views it offers. Check out the Dipsea, Steep Trails, and Matt Davis Loop, a trio that's highly rated on AllTrails. You'll be able to take in views of the ocean as well as waterfalls. The full loop is 6.8 miles long, and there is quite the elevation gain (1,781 feet) so make sure everyone in your party prepares for that.
Lewis and Clark Trail (Portland, OR)
Portland is affectionately called the "home of the urban hiker" because there are many trails close to the city that residents make good use of. The Lewis and Clark Trail is an easy trail 15 minutes from downtown Portland. If you're into rock climbing and bouldering, Lewis and Clark Trail is a great choice. Even if you aren't, it's an excellent place to get a dose of nature if you need a quick fix.
Rock Creek Park (Washington, D.C.)
You don't have to leave Washington, D.C., to hike around Rock Creek Park. The two main trails are the Western Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail. The park website describes these trails as the rails of a ladder. You can create your own trail by taking any number of east/west trails that connect the Western Ridge Trail and the Valley Trail. Those who work in the city enjoy the open spaces and beautiful views.
Wissahickon Valley Park (Philadelphia, PA)
Wissahickon Valley Park is a hidden treasure of the City of Brotherly Love. With over 57 miles of trails in this stunning gorge, you can get lost in the wilderness even though you're only 10 minutes from downtown Philadelphia. Orange Trail is a favorite. It gets rugged at times, so you really feel like you are deep in the forest. There is also a flatter, paved trail for less adventurous hikers. This trail spans the length of the park and follows the Wissahickon Creek.