What Is Urban Hiking?

When you want to get on outside and don’t want to drive all the way to the trailhead, maybe it’s time for an urban hike. But what, exactly, is an urban hike?

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It’s not hiking.

It’s not walking.

So what is urban hiking?

Urban Hiking is an active walk taken in an urban environment that goes through parks, uses stairwells, crosses intersections, and meanders through the city’s obstacles of life.

You can do urban hikes with your friends or by yourself. When urban hiking, you can be anonymous in a sea of people. Sidewalks, speed bumps, and curbs become your obstacles in your hiking trail to balance, cross, and giggle across.

Usually, there are no trailheads or maps. There’s no designated trail. You might use urban trails like the Denver 5280 Trail, the Freedom Trail in Boston, or the Schuylkill River Trail in Philly. But you’re more likely to blaze your own path.

Rather than a walk, which might also involve a neighborhood, a park, and a street, urban hiking involves putting on a pair of shoes that like concrete (the KEEN Gypsum), packing water and a snack, using public restrooms, and darting between cars, across crosswalks and over creeks. It’s often more strenuous than a walk, can include a local or regional trail, and it might even require your balance across an unbridged creek. The built environment becomes your playground.

Elevators  become your climb, stairs are your downhill trek. The focus is on the discovery of an adventure, not on the amount of steps, miles, or laps you’ve completed.

It’s an Attitude

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Urban hiking is also an attitude. You’re ready for an urban hike when you’ve decided another walk around the neighborhood is un-thrilling, and you’re ready to discover other areas of your world. You may want to go alone, grab a friend, or join a group. Regardless, you’re eager to discover and break out of the routine.

It’s Not an Adrenaline Rush

Even though you’re ready to break the routine with an urban hike, it’s not about an adrenaline rush. You don’t need special ice picks, climbing cleats, or tents. Although you may know wilderness first aid, you probably won’t use it. 911 works on urban hikes.

So Get Out There

Grab your hat, your gear, your sunscreen, and your phone.

For your first urban hike, jump on the local transit, take it to a destination, and do your first urban hike back to your house. Maybe you’ll be on a trail, a street, a road or an alley. Maybe you’ll wade a creek, climb a bank, or cross the commuter bridge. Have fun. Find an adventure.

Favorite Urban Hikes in Denver?

If you would like some good urban hiking suggestions in Denver, be sure to get my book, Best Urban Hikes: Denver, available on Amazon and good bookstores everywhere.

Here are a few urban hikes in Denver that you can do right now: Five Points, Highland, Athmar Park. You can also use the filter on the Hikes page to find hikes by length, location, family friendly, and so on. Have fun!

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See you on the trail..

~Chris