Are you an outdoor-loving, hiking-obsessed adventurer stuck in a big city? Do you live for vacations in the woods or by the beach? Do you wish you had the great outdoors on your doorstep as opposed to gridlock and a wall of smog?
If so, you should probably be living in one of these hiking towns.
What are the Best Places for Hikers to Live in the United States?
We have listed the best US towns and cities for hikers based on the proximity to quality hiking trails, as well as the opportunity for general outdoor recreation.
Asheville, North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Mountains offer some fantastic views and challenging hikes, spanning more than 400 miles, and reaching into Virginia. There are an endless number of hiking trails to explore here, and if you’ve seen all there is to see, Max Patch is just an hour’s drive away.
The Max Patch Trail is part of the Appalachian Trail and is suitable for beginner and intermediate hikers.
Away from the trails, Asheville offers a number of other outdoor activities (stand up paddle boarding, trail running, mountain biking, camping), and you’ll also find some great craft breweries and coffee shops in town.
San Francisco, California
If small towns and quaint mountain regions are not for you, head to San Francisco. It’s a big city with easy access to excellent hiking trails, camping spots, and more. The weather is great, the city is safe, and there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife watching, coastal hikes, surfing, mountain biking, and more.
Rent and house prices are some of the highest in the United States, but the local economy is thriving and the median household income is much higher than the national average.
Bellingham is home to fewer than 90,000 people and serves as a base for all outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike in the North Cascades National Park or Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and there are plenty of shops in the area that will keep you well-stocked with hiking essentials.
The Washington Trails Association (WTA) is a local organization that works hard to maintain hiking trails in Bellingham. It advocates for outdoor recreation and arranges events and programs to help local hikers. Be sure to check out the organization’s work if you decide to make this town your home.
Boise is known as the City of Trees. It’s said that early settlers climbed a hill, looked over the region, and saw a sea of trees stretched out before them.
Today, Boise is the most populous city in Indiana. It sits on the Boise River and is nestled in Treasure Valley, an area that’s surrounded by mountains, rivers, and hiking trails.
There are over 340 miles of trails in the city and these include the Ridge to River trail system, which has helped the city to the top of many “Best City for Outdoor Enthusiasts” lists.
There are unpaved and paved bike trails, off-leash dog walking trails, mountain biking trails, and dozens of hiking trails.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City has over 180 hiking trails and these span a variety of skill levels, from kid-friendly trails where you can take the whole family to advanced trails that will take you all day to complete.
Salt Lake City is a big city, but it also has everything that outdoor enthusiasts could need. You’ll find vast forests, rocky mountains, cascading waterfalls, and towering peaks. Check out Ensign Peak, Willow Lake, Lake Blanche, Donut Falls, Rattlesnake Gulch, Desolation Lake, Mount Olympus, and Neffs Canyon.
Durango is a snowboarding and skiing hotspot, but it’s also great for hikers. You’ll have easy access to the Colorado Trail, which spans over 500 miles from Durango to Denver, and you can also access the Chicago Basin Grand Slam via the Durango Silverton Train.
Durango is great for mountain biking, camping, and general outdoor recreation. As the seasons change, you can grab your snowboard or skis and head for the local ski resorts, including Purgatory, which is just a stone’s throw from the town and is one of the most popular resorts in the US.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a big city, but you don’t have to go far for an outdoor adventure. There are mountain biking trails, hiking trails, and more, including those at Palmer Park, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Garden of the Gods Park, and Red Rock Canyon Open Space.
North Conway, New Hampshire
North Conway is a little hiking town that’s home to fewer than 2,500 people and over 700,000 acres of national forest. You’ll find dozens of miles of trails around the White Mountains, including the final stretch of the Appalachian Trail.
It can be very cold, windy, and challenging, but if you want a real outdoor adventure in every season, it’s ideal.
Denver is even bigger than Colorado Springs. It’s a busy city with a population of over 760,000, but as soon as you leave the city limits, you’ll have a world of outdoor adventures waiting for you.
There are hiking trails, mountain bike lanes, trail running, ski resorts, and more. There’s a lot of natural beauty in Mile High City, and you’ll also have all the amenities that come with living in a big city.
What is the Best State to Live in for Outdoor Enthusiasts?
It’s hard to definitively pick the best state for hiking, as it all comes down to who you ask and what you’re looking for.
If it’s state parks, great weather, and epic hikes that you’re looking for, it’s hard to look past California. If you’re seeking more varied outdoor activities, including snowboarding, skiing, mountain biking, and climbing, Colorado is perfect.
If you want hikes unlike anything else, check out Hawaii, a volcanic island with amazingly picturesque hiking trails.
Washington, Alaska, Arkansas, and New Hampshire are also great for hikers.
What is the Best Country to Live in for Hiking?
The United States is one of the best countries for hikers. It has a little bit of everything, from vast national forests and national parks to summer sports (surfing, wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding) and winter sports (skiing, snowboarding). There are green spaces, deserts, ski resorts, and thousands of well-maintained trails.
The US is also home to Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and Lake Tahoe. It’s a vast country, so depending on where you live, there may not be many (or any) of these things within walking distance, but it’s clearly the best country for hikers.
Other options include Norway, which has many epic trails and scenic landscapes; Iceland, which offers outdoor adventures like nothing else, and Nepal, which is perfect for high-altitude hiking and mountaineering.
New Zealand, Chile, Sweden, and Canada also have plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. And if you’re looking for somewhere with minimal risk of wild animal attacks, heatstroke, dangerous winds, and deadly plants, consider the United Kingdom (from peaceful walks in southern England to lakes and mountains in the Lake District and epic hikes in Scotland) or France.