The 15 Best Cities in America for Hiking

Senior couple hiking outdoors
Halfpoint /

This story originally appeared on LawnStarter.

Ready to get outside after so many months cooped up? Take a hike. Seriously.

The perfect casual exercise to strengthen the body and mind is hiking. Going for a hike is a great way to leave your home while following current pandemic health guidelines.

But where are the best places to hike amid trees, streams, native grasses and wildflowers?

LawnStarter ranked the best cities for hiking based on 11 key metrics ranging from the number of usable trails to the average amount of sunshine. You can find our methodology at the end.

Following are the best cities for hiking. Check out the list, then lace up your hiking boots, head outdoors, and get a shot of nature.

1. San Francisco, CA

San Francisco
Maridav /

Overall score: 65.10

Access rank: 24

Quality rank: 41

Climate rank: 7

Safety rank: 1

2. Oakland, CA

Oakland, California
yhelfman /

Overall score: 64.93

Access rank: 10

Quality rank: 25

Climate rank: 7

Safety rank: 57

3. Los Angeles, CA

Songquan Deng /

Overall score: 64.67

Access rank: 2

Quality rank: 28

Climate rank: 24

Safety rank: 138

4. San Diego, CA

The skyline of San Diego, where median rent is well below median mortgage payments
Dancestrokes /

Overall score: 63.41

Access rank: 11

Quality rank: 29

Climate rank: 2

Safety rank: 113

5. Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon
photomatz /

Overall score: 63.28

Access rank: 4

Quality rank: 37

Climate rank: 32

Safety rank: 6

6. San Jose, CA

The skyline of San Jose, which has a lower median rent than median mortgage payment
stellamc /

Overall score: 62.65

Access rank: 12

Quality rank: 22

Climate rank: 6

Safety rank: 113

7. Huntington Beach, CA

Huntington Beach California
f11photo /

Overall score: 62.54

Access rank: 7

Quality rank: 41

Climate rank: 12

Safety rank: 117

8. Moreno Valley, CA

Moreno Valley, California
Sundry Photography /

Overall score: 61.19

Access rank: 13

Quality rank: 15

Climate rank: 12

Safety rank: 121

9. Tucson, AZ

Tucson, AZ
Sean-Pavone /

Overall score: 61.02

Access rank: 3

Quality rank: 12

Climate rank: 46

Safety rank: 32

10. Long Beach, CA

Long Beach California homes
L.A. Nature Graphics /

Overall score: 61.00

Access rank: 6

Quality rank: 41

Climate rank: 11

Safety rank: 138

11. Oceanside, CA

Oceanside, California
Stephanie Braconnier /

Overall score: 59.92

Access rank: 23

Quality rank: 41

Climate rank: 2

Safety rank: 113

12. Riverside, CA

Peace Bridge
Jon Bilous /

Overall score: 59.77

Access rank: 14

Quality rank: 34

Climate rank: 12

Safety rank: 121

13. Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas neighborhood with desert hills beyond.
Christopher Boswell /

Overall score: 59.69

Access rank: 8

Quality rank: 7

Climate rank: 34

Safety rank: 38

14. Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix, Arizona
f11photo /

Overall score: 59.30

Access rank: 1

Quality rank: 30

Climate rank: 52

Safety rank: 69

15. Fremont, CA

Fremont California traffic
Sundry Photography /

Overall score: 58.88

Access rank: 46

Quality rank: 18

Climate rank: 7

Safety rank: 57


Man using too much data on his phone, tablet and laptop
Bacho /

To determine the best and worst U.S. cities for hiking amid the pandemic, LawnStarter first identified quantifiable factors that affect the quality and suitability of a hike. We identified and collected the most recently available data for a total of 11 key indicators, which are listed below, and grouped these into four categories: route access, route diversity, route safety and climate.

Next, we assigned a weighted score to each metric based on its significance within its indicator category. A single weight is equal to 4 points, a double weight 9 points and a triple weight 13 points.

Finally, we compared the 150 most populated U.S. cities by summing up their scores across the 11 indicators. The city that scored the highest was ranked No. 1, or “best,” while the city with the lowest score was ranked No. 150, or “worst.”

  • Number of Hiking Routes
  • Number of Camping Sites
  • Number of Camping Stores
  • Variety of Route Difficulty
  • Yearly Average Number of Very Cold Days
  • Yearly Average Number of Very Hot Days
  • Sunshine
  • Average Monthly Precipitation
  • Air Quality
  • Natural Hazards Index
  • Natural/Environmental Death Rate

Sources: AllTrails, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Disaster Preparedness, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Yelp

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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