Photo Credit: ModernHiker.com
Just because you live in the city, it doesn’t mean you’re far from the Great Outdoors. Four hikes within reach of the city limits.
City life may mean we spend most of our days in towns and cities, but as our modern metropolises have grown, so has our proximity to endless miles of extraordinary trails.
Hit the road for about half hour out of almost any of our biggest cities and you can be huffing and puffing your way through some gorgeous scenery on the trail. Sometimes all you need is a couple of hours and a fresh perspective to put a new spring in your step. We present you with four of our favorite hikes that aren’t too far afield.
Elephant Head – The East Ridge Trail
Distance: 8.5 miles
Hike time: 6 hours
Elevation gain: 2,726 ft
Photo Credit: Todd’s Hiking Guide
Drive just over an hour south from downtown Tucson and you’ll be swapping concrete buildings for granite peaks and the desolate grandeur of Elephant Head. A huge craggy peak reached by an unmarked but well-worn trail, its summit will reward you with epic views of the Santa Rita Mountains to the east and southern Arizona from every angle.
There are two starting points. Begin from Chino Canyon for the longer, harder hike, but for a shorter challenge start at the Agua Caliente Canyon. Both hikes will get your legs pumping and your blood flowing. Along the way you’ll take in the ruins of the old Elephant Head Mill, the abandoned Quantrell Mine and at its peak, the bizarre but brilliant Elephant Shrine, framed by Baboquivari Peak in the distance. The kind of view the word breath-taking was created for.
Distance: 2 miles up to 11 miles
Hike time: 1-5 hours
Elevation gain: 275 ft
Photo Credit: TravelingTed.com
Just one of a huge tangle of trails covering the 2,492 acres of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve set in Darien, an easy half hour cruise southwest of downtown Chicago.. Wrapped around the Argonne National Laboratory, the main trail is wide, flat and easy to proverbially (and literally for that matter – signage is haphazard!) get lost in for as long as you feel like it.
Created in the wake of the Wisconsin Glacier, this is real back to nature stuff. Overhead, Oak Maple’s canopies of green create spectacular light effects, filtering rays to the moss-covered forest floor. The terrain is crisscrossed with streams, 740 native plant species and more than 600 animal species from birds to mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and more. You’ll be sharing your hike with bikers, horseback riders and in the winter, cross-country skiers – but that sure beats the cars and trucks only minutes away in Chicago.
Newport - Cliff Walk
Distance: 3.5 miles each way
Hike time: 2.5 hours
Probably the best way to experience New England’s famous Atlantic coastline, the 3.5 mile Cliff Trail beginning in Newport, Rhode Island is a must for those who love being near water. The trail eases you in with the first mile or so before challenging you a little more from Ledge Road onwards.
With its natural rocky path weaving between cliffs that rise to approximately 70-feet high, it’s an East Coast hike like no other. Make your way across mesmerizing vistas and long winding public pathways before you hit the rocky shoreline where the view of New England’s coastline makes the whole thing worthwhile. But beware: the first two thirds are paved, but the final third gets rockier along the coast.
Beginning at First Beach and ending at Bailey’s Beach, this hike shouldn’t take you longer than around two-and-a-half hours (unless, of course, you stop often to take in the views and soak up the salty air - which is recommended).
//Los Angeles / San Fernando
Distance: 2.6 miles
Hike time: 2 hours
Elevation gain: 722 ft
Photo Credit: California Through My Lens
This short but steep hike sits in an area of great ceremonial importance for the Native American Chumash people. In particular, the Cave of Munits with its enormous and impressive chimney, was home to a powerful shaman. It’s a mysterious and atmospheric place not to be missed.
The walk up to the cave follows an easy dirt track, and once up close requires some climbing over steep rocks to get inside and revel in its cathedral like size. Once you’ve soaked it all in, head through the cave and up the super steep mountain over faint trails to crest Castle Peak. There, you’ll be met with a startling view that reaches all the way to the LA skyline on a clear day. Magic.