sort of great heights

Austin climbs onto list of the country's best cities for hiking

Austin climbs onto list of the country's best cities for hiking

McKinney Fall State Park Austin Texas hiking hiker trail outdoors 2015
Austin ranks No. 30 on a list of best hiking cities in the U.S. McKinney Falls State Park/Facebook

Texas is home to a surprising amount of great hiking, and a new study of 200 U.S. cities places Austin at No. 30 for the best hiking nationwide.

The study from lawn care startup LawnStarter is based on 13 criteria, from “hiking access and quality to trail difficulty to natural hazards index.”

With an overall score of 54.32 out of 100 (which sounds borderline bad until you consider the highest score on the chart is 68.37), Austin fares best for hiking access and supplies access, in which the city ranked No. 11, followed by hiking quality, 63rd of 200.

Austin ranked poorly in climate, of course, at No. 98. The number of sunny days, apparently, couldn’t stand a chance against the number of extremely hot ones.

The top 10 U.S. cities for hiking, according to LawnStarter, are:

1. Portland, Oregon
2. Tucson, Arizona
3. Phoenix, Arizona
4. Colorado Springs, Colorado
5. Oakland, California
6. Salt Lake City, Utah
7. Los Angeles, California
8. Boise, Idaho
9. Las Vegas, Nevada
10. San Diego, California

(The 200 cities were chosen based on population, so those small Vermont and New Hampshire towns built around incredible hiking did not get to play.)

Elsewhere in Texas
The highest-ranked Texas city is El Paso, coming in at No. 18, an obvious choice for beautiful desert treks that probably didn’t break the top 10 because of its low hiking access and climate scores. San Antonio comes in behind Austin, at No. 36. 

The other Texas cities in the top 100 are as follows: Garland (No. 43), Frisco (No. 55), Dallas (No. 62), Fort Worth (No. 65), McKinney (No. 75), Laredo (No. 82), Houston (No. 92), and Plano (No. 94). Pasadena ranks the worst statewide — and nearly nationwide — at No. 198.

Hikers in and around Garland should be happy to learn the city ranks No. 1 in average consumer rating for hiking trails. Midland suffers from some of the worst consumer ratings, but it happens to rank No. 1 in lowest natural hazard risk. Perhaps it’s just not as exciting when nature is on your side.

With sister cities San Antonio and Austin ranking among the top 20 percent of U.S. hiking, outdoorsy locals have plenty of reason to get outside and take a hike.