When I was growing up urban wild places is where I fell in love with the outdoors. We didn’t have mountains in our back yard but we did have green spaces within the city limits that we explored every day.
We played outside digging holes, catching tadpoles at the frog pond and made our own trails at our local city park.
Today there are so many urban wild spaces within city limits for the beginner outdoors person to explore without committing to a week-long backpacking or camping trip.
Of course, it’s also very beneficial for the advanced hiker too because you can use urban hiking as a way to get in shape for that week-long backpacking or mountaineering trip coming up.
Urban outdoor areas are perfect places to roam because they provide easy access, you can exit quickly if need be and it’s nearly impossible to get lost in.
What IS urban hiking?
Before I get into the benefits of urban hiking let me explain what urban hiking is. It’s walking or hiking green spaces within the city limits.
Some awesome urban places to hike are Central Park in New York City, Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and Forest Park in Portland, Oregon.
A few other places for urban hiking could be exploring the historical downtown area, walking a river or canal path, or hunting for old landmarks and cemeteries within the city limits.
The possibilities are endless and plenty to discover on an urban hike that you can’t see driving in your car. In fact, many big cities and small towns are mapping out urban trails encouraging everyone to get out more locally. See the links below on the best cities to urban hike in.
My list of the 10 benefits of urban hiking.
1. Food supply is close at hand.
No need to carry extra food because a store is most likely around the corner – see #8
2. No need to relieve yourself outdoors, a bathroom is close by.
If you’re in the city you can use public restrooms or at community parks and trailheads they have a porta-potty, usually. Not the nicest place to do your business but it works. Just make sure you have a tissue in hand, you may be left without any toilet paper when using a porta-potty.
3. Stop and sit awhile.
I’ll bet you can find a bench to sit, relax, and eat your snack or have a drink before moving on. Rest those weary feet, they deserve it
4. Take only what you want to take, not what you need.
If you’ve ever done day hiking or backpacking in the wilderness you need to pack for all kinds of scenarios that may happen, like bad weather or hiking at night. Not so on an urban hike, you may want to take extra camera equipment instead, like your selfie stick or camera lens.
5. Help is close by.
No need to call a rescue team, just be sure to have your phone handy so you can call for help (very good odds you’ll have cell service) or just yell loudly, hopefully, someone will respond.
6. No need to worry about wild animals.
The wildest animal you may run into is a dog off-leash and he’s likely to run right pass you, especially if he got loose by accident. A dog off-leash has no time for humans, they just want to explore as much as possible before it’s time to go back on the leash.
7. There are tons of meetup groups to join, a great way to meet new people.
If you’re new in town or join want to meet other like-minded people, meet up groups are an awesome way to hang with other urban hikers.
8. Awesome way to find new places in your area.
I’m always amazed at the neat little places I found that I never knew were there. also, an awesome way to explore a new city you’re visiting.
9. Get to know the natural space you live in and support your community.
Become familiar with your local parks and event happenings so you can get involved. Learn about ways to volunteer. I did this recently and I felt so good afterward knowing I was helping to keep my little space in the world clean. I’m so looking forward to doing it again next year.
10. Your next urban hike in right outside your front door.
No need to drive hours away or plan a whole weekend around it. Urban hiking can be done in your neighborhood or local park and in a few hours, your hike will be done so no need to take off from work. Schedule it into your day or prioritize it as your weekend outdoor activity.
Really see your surroundings, breathe in the smells, listen to the sounds around you, be aware and take note, stop to wonder and be curious about your space and explore what you find interesting.
Reclaim the natural surroundings you call home and get to know these urban places. They’re most likely paid for with your tax dollars so use them, call them your spaces and help support them so they can thrive for generations to come.
I recommend it for everyone, especially those who are intimidated by hiking in the backcountry or have no desire to climb mountains.
Do you urban hike and what do you like about it? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to share with your friends.