7 Hikes Near Urban Centers to Get Your Nature Fix

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Ready for some nature?

No matter where you live—city or country, farmhouse or skyscraper—life feels better when you get to spend a bit of time in nature. 

For those who live in the city, finding places to explore can sometimes feel like a daunting task. But it doesn't need to be. Here at The Outbound, we have yet to find an urban area that doesn't have a great hiking trail within an hour or two of downtown.

While you're out of the city, why not make a weekend of it? KOA has a nationwide network of campgrounds that are perfect for spending a night under the stars. So grab your family, your dog, and your tent or RV, and book a night at one of KOA's 500+ campgrounds across North America.

Ready to explore? Here are a few of our favorite hikes close to major cities.

New York City

Photo by Grant

Panoramic views of the Hudson River await on this gentle, 5.4-mile loop just 30 minutes from Manhattan. The Huyler's Landing/Closter Dock route follows a fire road, passes historic Kearney House, runs along the shore of the river, and climbs to a viewpoint where you can see the city across the Hudson. Did we mention that parking is free? Talk about a great find.

KOA campgrounds in New York

Chicago

Photo by Jon Mattrisch

Hop across state lines to check out the scenic Seven Bridges Trail in Grant Park, right along the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Wander beneath towering trees and past flowing streams while crossing over seven bridges in this city park. Admission is free, and when you're done hiking, you can enjoy a picnic lunch on Grant Park's sandy waterfront.

KOA campgrounds in Illinois and Wisconsin

Denver

Photo by Jennifer Broome

The Colorado Front Range's iconic red rock formations are on display at Matthews / Winters Park in Golden. Get a spectacular view by climbing up the switchbacks up the Morrison Slide. From the top, you'll lay your eyes on the Plains to the east, Denver in the distance, and Hogback Ridge. If that doesn't give you your nature fix, there are more miles of trails to explore within the park. 

KOA campgrounds in Colorado

San Francisco

Photo by Joshua Scruggs

Keep your eye open for the endemic Tule elk while on the scenic 9.5-mile out-and-bike hike to Tomales Point. Located in Point Reyes National Seashore, the hike has spectacular views of northern California's rocky coastline. Be sure to stop by the town of Point Reyes after your hike for a ginger cookie from Bovine Bakery and a pat of cheese from Cowgirl Creamery.

KOA campgrounds in California

Los Angeles

Photo by Mark Garcia

Leave city cares behind with this leg-busting route up San Gabriel Peak, one of the highest mountains in San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. Climb over 1,000-feet elevation in 1.5 miles to the top of the 6,000-foot peak, which offers a panoramic view of the mountain range and the Los Angeles Basin. The trail is dog-friendly, too. 

KOA campgrounds in California

Houston

Photo by Bryan Young

Get some miles under your soles on the 10-mile Four Notch Loop Trail in the Sam Houston National Forest, just an hour from downtown Houston. This route meanders through tall pine trees and climbs up and down creek ravines, though the majority of the trail is flat and relaxing. Part of this loop follows a section of the Lone Star Trail, which stretches for 140-miles through the National Forest.

KOA campgrounds in Texas

Phoenix

Photo by Laura Hill

Pack the kids in the car and head to the beautiful Marcus Landslide Trail in North Scottsdale. Located in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, this 4-mile loop hike features unique rock formations, historic signs, and plentiful Sonoran desert plant life. 

KOA campgrounds in Arizona

Cover photo by Sara Sheehy

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.