5 Great Urban Hikes
Did you know that a short 15-minute walk in a natural green space can reduce stress by lowering your cortisol, blood pressure and heart rate? But sometimes it’s not so easy to escape to the country for a good long hike. For those of us living in the city – or making a trip to the city – here are five great urban parks to self-medicate with some nature!
Hampstead Heath – London, England
Photo courtesy of Cristian Bortes
London is a beautiful city with plenty of attractions and distractions to keep you busy on a trip across the pond, but sometimes, even on vacation, you need to get away from it all. Take a jaunt up to Hampstead Heath, an easy Tube ride from Central London. This 790-acre park sits on a ridge above the city and features winding single-track trails, wide grassy fields, little ponds, lush wooded hillsides, and one of the best views of the London skyline you’ll find anywhere. On a sunny day, Hampstead Heath will be busy with joggers, walkers, and romping dogs, but you can easily find some solitude on one of the many pathways that crisscross the park.
Zilker Park – Austin, TX
Photo courtesy of fletcherjcm
If the crazy Austin traffic has been getting you down, make a pit-stop in Zilker Park. Zilker Park has something for just about everyone – walkers, runners, swimmers, even kayakers and SUPers! This 351-acre park that sits on the opposite side of Lady Bird Lake (Town Lake) gives city-goers access to numerous trails, gardens, and the ice-cold Barton Springs Pool, where on a hot summer day you can cool off!
Cherry Creek State Park – Denver, CO
Photo courtesy of Amy Robertson
The mountains are farther than they appear in Denver, CO, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities to get outside in the Mile High City itself. Take a trip to the Cherry Creek State Park and you’ll be transported miles away from the noisy city streets. With 35-miles of multi-use trails for hikers, bikers, and walkers, you’re sure to find some much needed stress relief!
Central Park – New York, New York
Photo courtesy of Paul Hudson
No list of urban parks would be complete without Central Park! Sure, 40-million people visit Central Park every year (yikes!), but this urban green space attracts urban walkers for good reason. You could spend an entire day walking through this 843-acre park, exploring the numerous lakes and ponds and keeping an eye out for Red-Tailed Hawks. While you’re enjoying strolling through this beautiful green space, be sure to enjoy the art and architecture which includes Cleopatra’s Needle (from 1450 BC!) as well as Belvedere Castle and Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
Stanley Park – Vancouver, CA
Vancouver is one of the greenest cities in the world, and has the lowest greenhouse gas emissions of any city in North America. It’s also one of the most scenic cities in the world, situated on British Columbia’s Burrard Peninsula. Stanley Park is like a little forest within downtown Vancouver itself and features numerous walking trails, beaches, and fresh water lakes. You might just forget you’re in the city as you amble beneath the dense forest canopy and watch for Great Blue Herons, one of the largest urban colonies in North America.
Do you have a favorite urban hike? Tell us about it! Leave a comment below. And don't forget to take your eNZees to prevent blisters on your next walk or hike!