From the fringes of New York to the heart of steamy Singapore, nature is everywhere you’re not looking in some of Earth’s most notoriously crowded big cities. From river walks to mountain peaks and everything in between, outdoor adventure is often just a few stops on the train – or a short drive – away from the crowds.
Here are three favorites to get you going:
Mount Hollywood Trail, Los Angeles: If you want an absolutely unforgettable, no-admission-charged, 360-degree view of the entire Los Angeles region – the valleys, the mountains, the Pacific Ocean – it’s yours. All you have to do is hike a little.
The Mount Hollywood Trail is easily reached from the parking lot of the famous Griffith Observatory; if you thought the views from over there were something, wait until you see what you get at the end of this steep (but fairly easy) 1.5-mile trail, which winds its way through the Griffith Park wilds up to the mountain’s 1,640-foot peak.
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Bronx River, New York: Exploring the almost-secret river that flows through one of New York’s boroughs is an unforgettable experience. The Bronx River Alliance, a nonprofit that worked tirelessly to bring the much-abused river back to life, operates cycling and canoeing trips along the river, from the rugged Hunts Point section down near the harbor on up through the borough. Or you can just explore yourself – the stretch running through the New York Botanical Gardens is particularly scenic, flanked by New York City’s lone remaining stand of old-growth forest.
Southern Islands, Singapore: To really get away from this tightly packed and hopelessly manicured city state, the Southern Islands, a small group of green dots just off the southern shoreline, are just the thing. All are reached by scheduled ferry or chartered boat from the docks behind the glittering Marina Bay Sands complex; just a few miles out and you’re a world away from business as usual. Bring a hat, sunscreen, some bottled water and go – from pretty beaches to unkempt tropical forest, there’s all sorts of exploring to do. Now is the time, too, as the government ponders various plans to develop the islands. Everything seems to be on hold for now, but don’t bet on that lasting forever.