- May 15, 2019 at 10:44 pm #3593161M. CBPL Member
We used to live in Colorado and I loved hiking above Lyons and in RMNP but now are in Austin and really missing the hills and mountains (but not the post-holing and mud season). Looking to move to somewhere in the southwest that has good inclines for training (and not as crowded as the Boulder trails).
What are your favorite cities? What is it you love about hiking/backpacking there?
PS We think Austin is great, just less opportunities for altitude – and that long humid summer means less outdoor time.May 16, 2019 at 5:24 am #3593210David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Marin County, especially on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais, have the greatest elevation change trails in the Bay Area.
Those communities along the spine of the coast mountains on the San Francisco Peninsula (Portola Valley to Pacifica) also have great access to fabulous trails.
But for the easiest access, living near the ridge in the East Bay (Fremont, Hayward, Castro Valley, San Leandro, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond) gives access to multiple trails mostly running north-south. I’ve walked out of my house in Castro Valley and gone through Chabot, Redwood, Roundtop, Huckleberry, Sibley, Tilden and Wildcat Canyon Regional Parks, turned around and hiked back for a 100k / 62 km day hike staying on trails almost continuously only have to cross a handful of roads. Admittedly, even though I was 1/3 my age then, I was sore for 3 days afterwards, but I’m glad I did it. Hundreds of times, I’d take more reasonable hikes solo or with friends, usually day hikes but camping and backpacking are allowed there as well. It really is a tremendous resource to have such extensive, contiguous wildland adjacent to a thriving metropolitan area. The housing near the ridge isn’t cheap but there is public transit (or a 1000-vertical-foot hike) up to the trailheads from the lower-cost flatlands.
Not what most people would call the southwest, but it’s far to your west and 2000 miles to my south.
If by SW you mean AZ and NM, then Flagstaff really stands out for year-round, world-class, multi-sport activities very near by.May 16, 2019 at 1:53 pm #3593236Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
L.A.. is surprising – I lived in Pasadena and a few miles north I could hike up the foothills of San Gabriel mountains. If I wanted to drive an hour hike along the crest. Did that many weekends.
Portland is definitely not it, moldy, dreary, depressing,… : ) But if you’re a glutton for punishment and don’t mind the rain, the West Hills are really nice conditioning right next door, a few 1000 foot elevation hikes. Other local hikes. Columbia gorge and Mt Hood have lots better elevation hikes and backpack trips. East side when tired of the rain. Lots of other places within a few 100 miles like other places in Cascades, Olympic Peninsula, Rogue River, Trinity Alps,… Portland not quite as overwhelmed with people as Seattle, but that’s not too bad either.May 16, 2019 at 2:50 pm #3593246Lester MooreBPL Member
@satoriLocale: Olympic Peninsula, WA
Much depends on what kind of “city” you’re looking for (work options, amenities, state tax situation, school district, etc).
If you want elevation gains, how about Bishop CA? I’ve only been there once, but there are a lot of trailheads within 2 hours drive and some of the biggest vertical gains you’ll find anywhere in the lower 48 states close to town. Some favorite mountain towns for outdoor activities include: Pinedale WY, Crested Butte CO and Moab UT. If you want year-round moderate temperatures, moderate summer humidity, stable predictable weather all summer, and moderate annual rain fall (15 – 20 inches), then Sequim or Port Townsend WA in the rain shadow of the Olympic Peninsula in WA are hard to beat.May 16, 2019 at 4:58 pm #3593266Dan YBPL Member
7601 South Congress Ave.
Austin, TX 78745
They can point you in the right direction. They are the friendliest folks on the planet :)
<div></div>May 16, 2019 at 7:34 pm #3593290JohnBPL Member
@johnnyh88Locale: The SouthWest
Arizona has really grown on me. I’m in Phoenix, and there’s a trailhead about 15 minutes from my house where I can do a 4.2-mile/1000-foot hike or a 5.8-mile/1800-foot hike (options to go even longer). I do these short hikes 3-5 times a week, often before work. If you go early enough in the morning, these trails can be hiked year round, although June-September can be a little warm. I usually see 0-3 people in the first 60-90 minutes. Surrounded by a city of millions, I often wonder where everyone else is. Tucson has even better hikes close to the city and better weather. Flagstaff doesn’t have many opportunities for my job field, otherwise that would be good too.
For backpacking and other hiking in Arizona, you just drive around the state going to different altitudes depending on the season…3-season conditions for 50 weeks a year. Usually I will drive to California, Utah, Colorado, or New Mexico a couple times a year for longer backpacks.May 18, 2019 at 5:24 am #3593485M. CBPL Member
Lots of great suggestions and I appreciate you sharing! The Arizona trails esp. sound good and we have friends in Port Townsend so up north is also a possibility. Utah is definitely on my radar – so many beautiful National Parks.
I telecommute so not tied down, love open, natural areas but do enjoy being near enough to drive to the city for good food.
Also should have mentioned that I lived most of my life in California, both north and south, and have many fond memories of hiking there (grew up on Mt Tam in the 70s-80s, used to run barefoot on the trails, and thought it was my own private refugee) but we moved away for a lot of reasons and don’t suppose we will ever return. Wherever we live I look for those beloved elements of my childhood in California – being immersed in nature, friendly neighbors, and an easy-going happy lifestyle. We are hoping to find that in our next home also.May 18, 2019 at 7:20 am #3593489Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
We are asking the same questions.
But we are willing to explore and see some new things, I think it’s good to have an open mind.
We have fallen in love with hiking year-round in the mid-elevation (7k-9k) prairie, pine, and granite of SE Wyoming.
But in response to your question—
And one secret place we can’t divulge quite yet!
These are towns that have terrific elevation hikes, not-CA costs (BZN is debatable), and pleasant community.
I have to admit that we are being more and more drawn to elevation hiking + warmer winters!May 18, 2019 at 9:19 pm #3593562RVPBPL Member
@tunaboy999-2Locale: Mid Atlantic
Great thread! The OP was interested in cities, which I take to mean at least 50,000 or so people. Would love to hear more in that category (and not CA expensive).May 18, 2019 at 11:15 pm #3593580Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara/Santa Maria/San Luis Obispo and Ventura/Ojai/Oxnard area have access to great hiking trails. I live in Santa Barbara and can walk about 3 miles to a trail that goes into the wilderness if you hike on it long enough.
I recently joined the Santa Clarita Hikers meet-up and I’ve seen a lot of great hikes come up. I attended one of them. Used it as an excuse to try out our new camper. Drove out on a Friday evening, camped near the trailhead and then attended the hike. I also remember reading about all these secret staircases in Los Angeles that people connect for training. The Santa Monica Mountains have some great hiking, too.May 19, 2019 at 4:04 am #3593621Caledonia HeatherBPL Member
I do have to put a plug in for New Mexico, specifically Santa Fe or Albuquerque. Recreation is definitely year round here, and even in the winter you can ski in the morning and mountain bike or hike the desert in the afternoon. Elevation change between the city level and surrounding peaks is ~5000 feet, with multiple options for trails connecting the two. Albuquerque has more of a large city feel and is actually a little cheaper than Santa Fe. I am hooked on Santa Fe as the ideal weather location in the state as a general year-round rule though, having lived in Albuquerque, Taos and Santa Fe. Albuquerque and Santa Fe Both have good options for getting your cardio on uphill then saving your knees downhill (Sandia tram in Albuquerque, bus to/from Santa Fe ski in Santa Fe). One added bonus of Santa Fe is living year round at 7,000 foot elevation, which definitely puts you at an advantage for hiking at high elevation.May 19, 2019 at 10:37 am #3593648Rick MBPL Member
How about the epicentre for the Ironman triathlete competition, Hawaii? Train sea to summit ever day. Perfect weather. Excellent farm to table food supply. Pick an island to suit your temperament. Waimea on the Big Island offers a relatively low cost of living. The dominance of the Parker Ranch even gives it a little South West vibe with an annual Summer rodeo.May 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm #3593659Gary DunckelBPL Member
Grand Junction, COMay 19, 2019 at 2:35 pm #3593666Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I went hiking in Kauai. The hiking kinda sucks. The trails are too slippery and you can fall to your death on some of the trails. I did enjoy it anyway, but I was grateful to return to a world where the trails aren’t slippery and you can visit a wider variety of terrain/biological zones.Jun 17, 2019 at 4:16 am #3598146Terry SparksBPL Member
@firebugLocale: Santa Barbara County Coast
I live in Carpinteria, CA just south of Santa Barbara and have a trail three miles from the home with a five miles hike up that hill to the Los Padres NF. From there I can hike east to the PCT or north to Monterey, on the coast just south of San Fransisco.Jun 17, 2019 at 3:10 pm #3598176Ben CBPL Member
In the SW, Santa Fe is awfully nice. Nice town elevation. It’s on the base of the Pecos Wilderness. It has lots of fun hiking: Pecos, Bandelier, Jemez, Rio Grande, Taos, etc. Plus it has great food.Jun 17, 2019 at 3:44 pm #3598186matthew kModerator
I visited SLC and Park City last summer. I was amazed that I could drive ~20 minutes from SLC to Alta and be at an 8600’ trailhead.
Lots of pretty mountains around there…Jun 18, 2019 at 5:07 pm #3598346Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Seattle has several beach bluff parks that do the trick and lots of urban stairways that will toughen you up, not to mention 300’ hills all over. There’s even a book on Seattle stairway walks (San Francisco too I think).
And then we have stratovolcanos up to 14,000 and “ordinary” peaks to 7200’ or so. A typical Cascades day hike is 2500’ of elevation gain on 3 miles of switchbacks. Old growth wilderness hike trailheads are about 50 miles from town. Mt. Rainier is often used as training for super peak expeditions.Jun 20, 2019 at 12:13 pm #3598542Ryan “Rudy” OuryBPL Member
@ohdogg79Locale: Central FL - Ocala NF
I’ll add another plug for Santa Fe (though not Abq, sorry). Lived just up the hills in Glorieta for 3 yrs. There are a LOT of good trails in 2-3 close natl forests (Santa Fe, Carson, etc); the Pecos Wilderness is awesome and surprised me every time I went w/ it’s beauty, wildlife & variation; I NEVER felt crowded, even in the busier areas like Ski Santa Fe; the town is a great unique mix of culture & food and pretty affordable. Town is at ~5500’ elev and you have easy access to lots of 12k’+ peaks.
biggest downside to NM is schooling/raising a family. I believe NM recently became the worst state to raise a kid when it passed Alabama. There are some good schools, and SF is better than most of the state, but they’re in very high demand so if you’ve got littles and aren’t homeschooling, take that into consideration. Past that, I’d move back w/o hesitation given the opportunity.Jun 20, 2019 at 1:16 pm #3598548Dan YBPL Member
NM, sounds like a good place to retire/hike :)
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