2021 Best Cities for Hiking


As millions get a COVID vaccine every day, Americans are also enjoying a shot of nature, hiking at nearby parks, around lakes, and on river walks.

But which are 2021’s Best Cities for Hiking?

LawnStarter compared the 150 biggest U.S. cities across 11 key indicators of hiker-friendliness, including trail access, safety, and variety of routes, as well as climate (number of rainy and/or very hot/very cold days).

See which cities reached the summit of our list (and those where hikers should stay at base camp) below, followed by some highlights and lowlights.

Take a Hike in These Cities:

Rank City

  • 1. San Francisco, CA
  • 2. Oakland, CA
  • 3 Los Angeles, CA
  • 4. San Diego, CA
  • 5. Portland, OR
  • 6. San Jose, CA
  • 7. Huntington Beach, CA
  • 8. Moreno Valley, CA
  • 9. Tucson, AZ
  • 10. Long Beach, CA

Stay Indoors in These Cities:

Rank City

  • 141. Cape Coral, FL
  • 142. Cincinnati, OH
  • 143. Augusta, GA
  • 144. Montgomery, AL
  • 145. Anchorage, AK
  • 146. Tallahassee, FL
  • 147. Jersey City, NJ
  • 148. Shreveport, LA
  • 149. Baton Rouge, LA
  • 150. Mobile, AL

Highlights and Lowlights:

  • California Dreaming: Our hiking ranking was dominated by California. While almost every city in the Golden State performed well in the Climate categories due to mild weather and plentiful sunshine, the cities also are well rounded in other metrics such as number of hiking routes, number of camping sites, and variety in route difficulty. California is a hiker’s dream.
  • Happy Trails Out West: Other Western-state cities, such as Tucson, Las Vegas and Portland, also ranked well. Western cities tend to feature a higher number of hiking routes and camping stores. The climate is generally better for the outdoors than might be expected as well: Western cities report better air quality and — despite the wet reputation of the Pacific Northwest — surprisingly little average monthly precipitation.
  • Fewer Perfect Hiking Days: While cities in the South and Midwest fared poorly in a number of Best Hiking City metrics, it’s temperatures that truly mark these regions as less than ideal for hiking. Cities like Tallahassee and Cincinnati are subject to temperature extremes with a high yearly average of both very cold and very hot days. It’s not impossible to find a nice day for a stroll here, but we wouldn’t bet on it.

Our full ranking and analysis — plus a few surprising findings — can be found here: https://www.lawnstarter.com/blog/studies/best-cities-for-hiking/