In today’s busy modern world, more and more of us are living in urban areas with every passing year. While many are interested in the solace and serenity of Mother Nature, it isn’t always possible to get out of the city’s grasp every weekend, with money issues, chores, and familial obligations acting as an anchor to any spontaneous outdoor getaways.
One of the benefits of having a relatively young history of planned civilization in North America is that the level of build-up here is minuscule compared to urban areas in Europe and Asia. We grew up with nature … so we valued it while planning our cities. The result of this is that many places through our grand continent have big natural reserves located well within city limits, available for stressed city dwellers to use to unwind and relax.
So when you travel throughout the USA and Canada, keep these three hiking destinations in the following cities in mind, so that you can get your trek on even in the midst of your urban explorations.
1) Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Situated at the head of a peninsula where the glass and concrete towers of downtown Vancouver rise, the behemoths that soar skyward in Stanley Park are of the natural variety. Filled with coastal rainforest trees and wildlife that has adapted to being in a natural environment within a big metropolis, the Seawall trail is not only suitable for joggers and hikers, but for cyclists as well, which co-exist beautifully with the split path being of different heights.
At many points, you can venture inland to explore the dense forest and kettle lakes contained within, but we think you’ll be transfixed with the views of the North Shore Mountains, the shipping traffic in Howe Sound, and the massiveness of the Lions Gate Bridge halfway along the way. Allow 3 to 5 hours for completion.
2) Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California, USA
While this megalopolis on the SoCal coast can give you migraines with its pollution and bumper to bumper traffic on I-5, Los Angelinos have the perfect getaway when the surf at Huntingdon Beach is crap: Griffith Park. Situated at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains, this 4,000 acre expanse allows one to climb from the famous Griffith Observatory to the top of the mountain where the iconic Hollywood sign stands. Take care to watch for rattlers on the way up, and take plenty of water, as the dry climate and high temps much of the year can dry you out fast.
3) Bowmont Park, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Within Canada’s fastest growing and wealthiest city, there lies a killer view that makes the proposition of living here an easy sell: the Rocky Mountains, whose Front Range lies 60 kilometres to the east. Given the very busy lives of hard working Calgarians though, many don’t get a chance to head as often as they’d like; fortunately, the foothills terrain within city limits offers many quick and easy escapes.
One trail that is slightly under the radar, but is long on visual appeal is Bowmont Park in the cities’ NW quadrant. With rolling grassland precipitously falling to the banks of the Bow River, the trail traces the ravine’s northern edge, all while giving views of the golden lands in front of you, the shimmering river many metres below (with many tubers in the peak of summer floating happily along!), and the distant snow laden peaks of the Rockies completing the visage.
Discover North America’s Hidden Nature
Within many cities in North America lays a bounty of nature just waiting to be treaded by non-locals. Armed with the initial knowledge in this article, try to seek these gems out when traveling in North America!