“Urban Hiking” keeps popping up as the fastest growing trend in hiking. But what, exactly, is an urban hike? When you want to get outside, or you may not have personal transportation, or you don’t want to drive all the way to the trailhead, maybe it’s time for an urban hike. Rather than mountains and forests, you can find natural beauty and fun obstacles right outside your urban door.

5280 loop 5280loop urbanhikingden

How’s Urban Hiking Differ from Hiking or Walking?

It’s not hiking.

It’s not walking.

So What Is Urban Hiking?

Urban Hiking is a walk in the city that includes a sense of adventure. It embraces the urban environment by adventuring through parks, climbing stairwells, crossing intersections, and meandering 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 obstacles in your hiking trail to balance, cross, and giggle across.

No Trailheads, No Maps, Per Se

Usually, while urban hiking, there are no particular trailheads or maps. There’s no designated trail. You might use urban trails like Denver’s 5280 Trail, the Freedom Trail in Boston, or the Schuylkill River Trail in Philly. But you’re more likely to blaze your very 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), perhaps 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, Stairs, and Tree Stumps Make Up Urban Hikes

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. You might find a hidden stream, a forgotten pocket park, or an unexplored alley.

It’s an Attitude

5280 loop 5280loop urbanhikingden

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 excited 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, and you don’t/can’t/won’t get to a traditional trailhead at a hike in the woods, the mountains, or the parks.

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 calls work on urban hikes. Granted, you probably aren’t in fear of a bear on an urban hike, but you might be in fear of a delivery truck running you over.

So Get Out There

Grab your hat, your gear, your sunscreen, and your phone. Go discover urban hiking!

Where Should You Urban Hike First?

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 will be on a trail, a street, a road, or an alley. Maybe you will wade in a creek, climb a bank, or cross the commuter bridge. Have fun. Find an adventure.

Favorite Urban Hikes in Denver?

Here are a few urban hikes in Denver that you can do right now: Five Points, Highland, and 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!

Post your picture below!

See you on the trail.