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The best hiking trails near 12 U.S. cities

Get outside before winter hits

The view from Anthony’s Nose, a hike that’s accessible by public transportation from New York City.

Autumn is in full swing throughout the U.S., and the cooler weather is a welcome change from the hot days of summer. It’s an ideal time to be outside, whether you’re enjoying the fall foliage or perusing a botanical garden or sculpture park.

But just because you live in a large metropolis doesn’t mean you can’t break a sweat on a local hiking trail. Even our densest cities still offer picturesque paths, many of them accessible by public transportation. And if you’re willing to venture just a bit farther afield, you’ll gain stunning vistas that are begging to be Instagrammed.

We’ve consulted our vast network of Curbed city editors to bring you a list of some of the best hiking trails near cities from coast to coast. We’ve also linked to local maps and roundups that provide even more advice, from which trails have the most memorable scenic endings to the best resources for maps.

Behold, 12 fantastic hiking trails near cities from coast to coast.

Discovery Park in Seattle

The light house in Discovery Park, Seattle’s largest public park.
Nadezda Zavitaeva/Shutterstock

The Seattle area is chock full of amazing hikes, from leg-burning climbs on Snoqualmie Pass to waterfall hikes less than an hour from the city. But the best urban hike is in the northwest corner of Magnolia in Discovery Park.

Curbed Seattle has all the details: “The former Army Post has forest, meadow, a beach, a lighthouse, and old officer housing. And you can get there via the 19, 24, and 33 Metro buses.

“The classic choice is the 2.8-mile Loop Trail, which takes you through the woods and meadows to the park’s literal and figurative highpoint: a bluff overlooking Puget Sound that offers a great view of the downtown skyline.”

Head over here for 11 more essential Seattle-area hiking trails.

Fort Lee Historic Park near New York City

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New York City might be a mecca for lovers of public art and culture, but sometimes you just want to get away from the hectic pace of the city. Fortunately, the trains and buses of NYC can whisk you from the belly of Grand Central to the base of a mountain in an hour.

Curbed New York has a list of seven outstanding hikes you can get to by public transportation. And if you want to stay near the city, check out Fort Lee Historic Park:

“For an easy, scenic hike, all one has to do is cross the George Washington Bridge. This park sits at the entrance to the bridge on the New Jersey side, offering hikers access to 356 miles of trails on the Long Path. Of course, you don't have to hike the whole thing.” Right this way for more info.

Solstice Canyon in Los Angeles

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There are simply a ton of hikes in and around Los Angeles, but the best trails offer hikers something special. Curbed Los Angeles has compiled a list of hikes that come with spectacular sights along the way or at the end: waterfalls, stunning views, unique leftovers from heydays as a filming site.

One of their favorites is Solstice Canyon: “The trail takes hikers past waterfalls, the ruins of a burned-out Paul R. Williams mansion called Tropical Terrace, and the remains of what was once believed to be the oldest building in Malibu.”

Take a look at seven other awesome trails over here. Want to know how to hike to the Hollywood Sign? Curbed LA has all of that intel, too.

Mount Vernon Trail in Washington, D.C.

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Washington, D.C., may be known for its iconic gardens, green spaces, and museums, but it also boasts a surprising number of fun hiking trails. Don’t miss Rock Creek Park, a centrally located green space with great trails, historic sites, forts, picnic areas, and even rock scrambling.

Another good option is the Mount Vernon Trail. Curbed DC reports: “This trail can be reached by foot, bicycle, car, and even public transportation. Brightest Young Things included this trail in their hiking guide, praising it for allowing views of the D.C. skyline. For a full map of the trail, check out this map.”

Check out nine other top-notch hiking trails near our nation’s capitol, over here.

Oleta River State Park in Miami

Don’t expect much elevation gain on hikes in Miami, but the city does provide some stunning green spaces to explore—on land and water. Curbed Miami advises: “Hiking in Miami should not be thought of purely as a feet-on-the-ground activity as some of the best ‘trails’ are actually on the water, creating unique adventures via paddle board, canoe, or kayak.”

While the Everglades National Park offers plenty of hiking trails, head to Oleta River State Park if you’re looking for something closer to Miami. “Encompassing over 1,000 acres along Biscayne Bay in North Miami is the Oleta River State Park, which is bustling with Casuarina trees and invasive species. It’s a great place to paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing.”

We’ve got seven other trail recommendations, right this way.

Valley Forge National Historical Park in Philadelphia

Historic buildings in Valley Forge National Historical Park.
via Flickr/Pauline Rosenberg

There is plenty of hiking to be conquered in the Philadelphia area, with hikes like the Mt. Tammany-Delaware Water Gap blowing up your Instagram feed each fall. But other hikes closer to home also impress.

Curbed Philadelphia recommends the Valley Forge National Historical Park. “There are 19.5 miles of designated hiking trails within this historic national park. To be honest, you can’t really go wrong in choosing one over the other: They all offer picturesque views of the rolling countryside, which is scattered with both original and remade structures dating back to the American Revolutionary War.”

Head this way for a map of 11 other Philadelphia hikes, perfect for fall.

Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve in San Francisco

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The hills of San Francisco might be workout enough, but if you’re itchin’ to sample the jaw-dropping hiking trails just outside the city, Curbed San Francisco has you covered.

The Point Reyes Lighthouse hike is always worth the trek, or go just across the bay to the Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. “East Bay residents have a volcano in their backyard. Hike up Round Top Loop Trail (elevation 1,763 feet) to reach the top, or Volcanic Trail for a self-guided volcanic tour. There's a backpacking campground at the top, plus dogs are allowed on certain trails.”

Need more suggestions? Curbed SF has nine other options, over here.

Lynn Woods Reservation near Boston

As Curbed Boston acknowledges, “One of the benefits of living in one of the more bucolic regions of the United States is the abundance of hiking venues.” And it’s true: The Boston area is home to major state and city parks with miles and miles of scenic trails.

Further afield—but with photo-worthy fall colors—hike-lovers should check out the Lynn Woods Reservation. “The City of Lynn bills this 2,200-acre greensward as the second-biggest municipal park in the United States.

“It comes complete with more than 30 miles of trails and three reservoirs that provide water to the city—and scenery to the park.”

Curbed Boston has nine other hikes, this way.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in New Orleans

New Orleans offers a ton of walking paths in the city, but it’s not exactly famous for hiking. Still, Curbed New Orleans mapped seven decent hiking options throughout the region. Some might be nearly three hours from the Big Easy, but trails like Clark Creek offer waterfalls and picturesque views.

If a long drive isn’t an option, try the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve’s Barataria Trail: “Roughly 30 minutes from New Orleans, this giant park holds a pleasant 4-mile trail. It has gorgeous southern scenery, including native wild flowers, swamps, live oaks, native floating marshes, and—if you’re into wildlife—alligators.”

See all of the best NOLA hiking options, right this way.

Stony Creek Metropark in Detroit

According to the expert editors at Curbed Detroit, the city’s “Metroparks and nature preserves offer scenic views and multiple trails for hiking, cycling, cross country skiing, and horse riding.”

While Dequindre Cut and Belle Isle are excellent choices if you need to stay close to the city, check out Stony Creek Metropark if you’ve got some extra travel time.

“Up in Shelby Township and going into both Oakland and Macomb Counties, Stony Creek Metropark has 27 miles of hiking trails. The park has a variety of trails, from paved to primitive, flat to hilly, and some are shared with cyclists. A park map with hiking and cycling trails, difficult to easy, can be found here.”

See all of the other great trails in the Detroit area, over here.

Sweetwater Creek State Park in Atlanta

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There’s no shortage of scenic hikes from Atlanta’s doorsteps. Curbed Atlanta remarks, “From Civil War ruins to majestic mountaintops and a raucous, faux-Bavarian village, North Georgia has it all, and it never shines brighter than when the leaves start to turn. Beyond the cost of gas, most of these autumnal offerings can be done on the cheap, too.”

One of the best picks is Sweetwater Creek State Park. “Half an hour due west of downtown Atlanta, the two-mile roundtrip Red Trail beside gushing Sweetwater Creek is a hiker’s delight this time of year. It passes the beautiful, five-story ruins of the New Manchester mill, named for the town wiped out here during the Civil War.”

Curbed Atlanta has seven other great recommendations, mapped.