Urbanites Can Get Their Nature Fix Too

Photo by Katherine Bagley

Now that the sun is shining, the heat is sweltering, and the summer is well underway, it seems like the perfect time for a walk in the woods. But wait - I live New York City, have no access to a car, and most of my city-dwelling friends would rather wear stilettos and loafers than muddy hiking boots. So what is a girl to do?

Turns out I am not the only city slicker facing this dilemma. Urbanites from New York to San Francisco have been wrestling with competing loves of metropolitan life and natural surroundings for decades. The result? Dozens upon dozens of hiking societies that specialize in planning getaways into the wilderness using public transit or ride sharing. Trips can vary from week-long canoe adventures to quick day hikes and with the wide variety of options, there is sure to be something to satisfy your craving for the outdoors.

Several adventuring groups in cities across the United States are steeped in rich hiking history. The New York Ramblers, for example, formed in 1923. The Urban Trail Conference in New York in the 1970s. The San Francisco Hiking Group, which organizes hikes for the gay community, was created in 1982. Then are also the major groups, the Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Club for example, that have been planning trips for city-dwellers for decades. And don’t forget to check out your local Audubon chapters.

But thanks to Internet, anybody can find clusters of outdoor enthusiasts now. The communities are no longer formed at the local library as book groups bond over a their love for John Muir’s writings. Online networking sites, like MeetUp.com, serve as an open forum for urbanites looking for trips; they can even make sure their interests match up with their fellow outdoor adventurers. Do you like walking the Big Apple’s waterfront? You can join Shorewalkers. Vegan or vegetarian? Hike with the Greater LA Veggie Hikers. A gay man who loves the outdoors? Join BLAZE – Backpacking Gay Men of NYC. Slowpoke River Canyon Hikers. SoCal Happy Hour Backpacking group. Take your pick.

So instead of just sitting inside your air conditioned apartment this summer wishing you could shimmy up a cliff face, take a dip in a cool mountain stream, and observe wildlife, get out there and actually do it.

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