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5 Best Cities for Urban Hiking

New York City
Can you imagine hiking under skyscrapers? Make it reality in NYC.
Can you imagine hiking under skyscrapers? Make it reality in NYC.
Keith Levit Photography/Getty Images

If urban hiking -- heavy on the "urban" -- is what you're after, New York City offers a wealth of city walking. Map your own route and walk beneath towering skyscrapers, through gems of small city parks and along the waterfront, crossing bridges and scoring spectacular views of such landmarks as the Statue of Liberty. Manhattan may be crowded, but there's much to see and plenty of sidewalks.

Central Park, with 250 acres (101.17 hectares) of lawn and 136 wooded acres (55 hectares), offers several hiking options. There are long-distance routes of 6.1 miles (9.8 kilometers), 5.2 miles (8.37 kilometers) or 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers), and lots of shorter options. All in all, there are 58 miles (93 kilometers) of hiking trails in Central Park, some in the 90-acre (36.4-hectare) Ravine, and others in the 38-acre (15.4-hectare) Ramble, which has woods and wild gardens. You can also try a free, guided walking tour if you like.

New York's varied boroughs and their neighborhoods lend themselves to interesting hikes. Brooklyn, for example, has Prospect Park , Greenwood Cemetery, neighborhoods of historic brownstones and lots of great bars and restaurants for relaxing after the walk.

In the Bronx, the Bronx River has been opened for canoeing, hiking and biking. A loop trail along the river near Burke Bridge, close to the New York Botanical Garden, is about an hour-long walk. The trail passes through the Bronx River Forest, one of the oldest in the city.

Any urban hike in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood should include a walk atop the High Line. The High Line is a city-owned park – a walkway and botanical gardens – built atop black steel columns on an abandoned elevated freight line. It stretches for about a mile and a half (2.4 kilometers), giving unusual views of buildings and the Hudson River beyond.