sort of great heights

San Antonio climbs onto list of best cities for hiking in the U.S.

San Antonio climbs onto list of best cities for hiking in the U.S.

San Antonio hiking hike bike trail park outdoors 2015
San Antonio ranks No. 36 on a list of best hiking cities in the U.S. San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department/Facebook

Not that there’s anything wrong with the beautiful River Walk, but sometimes you just have to get your shoes dirty. Texas is home to a surprising amount of great hiking, and a new study of 200 U.S. cities places San Antonio at No. 36 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 52.06 out of 100 (which sounds borderline bad until you consider the highest score on the chart is 68.37), San Antonio fares best for supplies access, in which the city ranked No. 5 for the number of outdoor gear stores, followed by safety, 18th out of 200, and hiking access, 24th out of 200.

The San Antonio area's quality of hiking — number of hiking routes and campsites — ranks a middling 64th. Its worst ranking is, of course, climate, at No. 112. 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. Austin comes in next, at No. 30, with No. 11 rankings for both hiking access and supplies access. 

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.