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Are you an avid traveler, but are concerned about the carbon footprint you are leaving on the world? Do you relish exploring new vistas, and getting to know different corners of the world, but are conscious of contributing to a more sustainable way of maintaining your roving lifestyle?
City hiking, or urban hiking, is a growing concept and trend designed to encourage city travel to be a chosen dedication for exploration over and above mountain trails and open countryside where nature is in danger of being overrun and ruined by excessive tourism.
Cities all over the world have a wealth of unexplored beauty that is beyond the usual tourist trails. Backpacks and hiking boots don’t have to be saved for country paths but are just as effective at eating up the kilometers on city streets.
From completing tours in London, to climbing the hills of San Francisco, here’s our guide to how best to organize an urban hike anywhere in the world.
City Hiking Tips
1. Choose Your City
While this is an entirely subjective decision – there may have been cities you have wanted to visit since childhood, some aspects you might want to take into account are: is the walking going to be challenging enough for you? Are there some good hills to hike up, which will give you a good view from the top? Is the city the right size to cover during the time you have – or should you choose somewhere bigger?
2. Plan Your Schedule
Is your sole focus going to be hiking, or do you intend to take in some cultural aspects as well? Sometimes having an itinerary that stops off at various cultural landmarks gives more sense to your overall schedule. You can theme it along historical elements, or artistic ones. Maybe covering the trail of a particular battle or event.
City hiking gives you the opportunity to really delve deep into the culture that is the foundation of a local community, and track the changes across different neighborhoods.
3. Be Flexible
With Smartphone technology it is very difficult to get lost these days. Although you want to start your hike with a planned itinerary, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go ‘off piste’ at times. It may be that part of your hike is not as inspiring as you thought it might be, that you have inadvertently planned a route through a more uninspiring part of town. Don’t waste your precious time by persisting along a route that is not giving you the right vibes. Get your phone out and find a more interesting route through it.
Sometimes going wrong is where you have the most interesting and diverse adventures, meet the most intriguing characters, and experience the most delicious (and often cheapest) local cuisine.
4. Don’t Back Track
When planning your route, don’t stick to one route there and back. Instead, create interesting loops that offer a variety of experiences and options.
5. Equip Yourself As You Would On Any Mountain Hike
The more comfortable you are when city hiking, the more you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your experience. Needless to say, comfortable shoes should be at the top of your hiking list. Even more so as the hard city pavements can be hard on the feet and knees. So, make sure you have good, soft-soled shoes which are supportive around the ankles. And don’t forget the blister pads. A day pack with water, food, and any other equipment you may need for your comfort during the day is essential. This includes your phone, plus an additional battery charger so that you don’t risk running out of battery.
Most importantly, enjoy your time, talk to the locals, and take in the urban landscape – you will learn more about a city by exploring its back streets than any tourist-focused guidebook.