Throw a few supplies in a day pack, rendezvous with your nature-loving friends and get yourself to a trailhead for an outdoor adventure everyone will enjoy. Here are 10 places to hike a short distance from 10 major cities that offer excellent trail conditions, diverse landscapes, and spectacular views.
A short distance from 10 major cities, these hikes reward with stunning views
Near Miami, FL
Everglades National Park (Jose Mirabal, Share the Experience)
Trade ocean views for miles of wetlands, marsh, and hardwood forest when you hike among wildlife in Everglades National Park. This family-friendly destination offers over a dozen trails to choose from to customize your experience and satisfy the curiosity of each adventurer in your party. For a chance to spot alligators, turtles, anhingas, herons, and more, take a leisurely stroll down the Anhinga or Bobcat Boardwalk trails. Looking for a more rugged experience? The Christian Point Trail or Guy Bradley Trail offer longer journeys through diverse habitat. These trail descriptions and directions can help guide you to your new favorite getaway spot.
Near Los Angeles, CA
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (Travis Roe, Share the Experience)
Just under an hour from downtown Los Angeles, the East Fork Trail to Bridge to Nowhere is one of the most spectacular hikes in the Angeles National Forest. This 5.5-mile (8.9 km) trail traverses the rugged Sheep Mountain Wilderness and features several stream crossings. Be sure to plan ahead: a Wilderness permit and Southern California Adventure Pass or interagency annual pass are required on the Forest. Gather your friends, pick up your passes, and head out to spend your day immersed in Los Angeles’ wild backyard.
Near Austin, TX
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge (Claire Hassler, USFWS)
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for both wildlife and city dwellers alike. Head north from Austin to the Doeskin Ranch section of the refuge and look for Rimrock Trail, a 1.6 mile (2.6 km) loop that offers a satisfying mix of moderate and challenging terrain. You will be rewarded with the best views in the refuge all to yourself.
Near Albuquerque, NM
Petroglyph National Monument (Jessica Lucas, Share the Experience)
Fifteen minutes from Albuquerque, Petroglyph National Monument is an unparalleled day-trip destination. Like any hiking trip in the Southwest, bring lots of water and head out early to beat the heat. We recommend the Rinconada Trail, a stunning 2.2-mile (3.5 km) journey through geologic, natural, and cultural history. Keep your eyes up when you are on this trail, as you have the chance to spot up to 300 petroglyphs carved by the Ancestral Pueblo People.
Near Portland, OR
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Pat Czaplewski, Share the Experience)
Limitless beauty and opportunity await you just twenty minutes east of Portland at Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Dog Mountain Trail System is popular in spring for wildflower-viewing but is just as breathtaking and less crowded throughout the summer and fall. Before you hit the road, check Recreation.gov for information about seasonal permits for the trail, Multnomah Falls, and Waterfall Corridor.
Near Chicago, IL
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (Janet Lyons, Share the Experience)
Watch the high-rises give way to sprawling fields when you head south from Chicago to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. Park at the Hoff Road Trailhead and start along the Twin Oaks Trail until you meet up with the Bailey Bridge Trail, a 2.5 mile (4.0 km) choose-your-own-adventure path that transports you back in time to life in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Interested in learning more about the history and culture of the Illinois prairie? Consider adding a stop along the Iron Bridge self-guided interpretive tour Midewin created and shared on the National Forest Explorer App.
Rock Creek Park (Julie Steinberg, Share the Experience)
Stretch your legs after a long workday and hit the trails where President Theodore Roosevelt used to retreat from busy city life. Located in northeast Washington, DC, Rock Creek Park is full of hidden surprises, from Civil War-era earthworks, long-abandoned infrastructure, and a seemingly endless network of trails. Step out of the city and into the woods when you hike along the creek on the Boulder Bridge trail (3.5 mi/5.6 km). Or check off your list of must-see sites on the yellow-blazed Milkhouse Ford loop (1.75 mi/2.8 km). Get ready to embrace the beauty and wonder of a hidden world in the heart of the nation’s capital.
Near Atlanta, GA
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park (John Kenkel, Share the Experience)
Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park offers several trails to immerse yourself in and reflect upon an episode of Civil War history. A great hike to start with is the 2.0-mile (3.2 km) Mountain Top Loop. Hike to the top of Kennesaw Mountain with your Atlanta-based neighbors for a birds-eye view of your community nestled among low-lying mountains and be on the lookout for lingering canyons and trenches along the way.
Near Las Vegas, NV
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Bachir Badaoui, Share the Experience)
Twenty minutes from Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a great weekend getaway for any explorer. Bring your friends and family to Oak Creek Canyon Trail (2.0 mi/3.2km), an easy, open desert trek that dons gorgeous wildflowers in the spring season. If you are prepared for a challenge, Ice Box Canyon Trail is a rewarding hike to the bottom of the canyon. The main trail is a 2.5 mile (4.0 km) out-and-back trail that can be extended an additional half mile by scrambling up the canyon wall to a seasonal waterfall pool. Whichever route you choose, book your Scenic Drive timed-entry reservation, pack plenty of water, and get ready to bring home a story.
Near Boise, ID
Boise National Forest (Steve Linhart, Share the Experience)
The Ridge to Rivers Trail System encompasses 190 miles (305.8 km) of trails that connect local communities with their public lands. Trailheads are anywhere from five to 60 minutes from Boise, so you can use this map (PDF) to choose your preferred starting point. Need some inspiration? We recommend Freddy’s Stack Rock Trail (#125 on the map), a 7.1 mile (11.4 km) loop on the Boise National Forest where hikers can ascend into an alpine environment and enjoy views of the entire Treasure Valley below.