Explore the outdoors: 5 U.S. hiking getaways
As the weather warms, jetting off for a hiking getaway is a fine idea. But you don't have to combine a long flight with a long drive to a remote national park to find stellar hiking. Many superb short and full-day hikes can be found within a short drive of these five U.S. cities — and some don't even require you to leave city limits. These cities and towns also offer après-hiking options from dining and microbreweries to live music venues.
Few cities in the world can boast of a park as large as Forest Park, a 5,000-acre swath of evergreen forest that's entirely in Portland. The east end of the park is only a few minutes from downtown. Its pine-needle-cushioned Wildwood Trail, a National Scenic Trail, weaves through evergreens for 30 miles, with every quarter-mile marked on the moss-covered trees. Portland is also a 30-minute drive from the Columbia River Gorge, which is home to two iconic trails. Take a short hike to the top of 635-foot Multnomah Falls and the Pacific Crest Trail, which heads toward Mt. Hood from the Bridge of the Gods.
The Nordic-ski trails that lace the Green Mountains near Burlington, Vermont's largest city (pop. 42,000), become hiking trails as soon as the spring snow melts. Mt. Mansfield State Forest is named for Vermont's highest peak (4,393 feet), which can be tackled on a five-mile roundtrip hike, with more trails at the forest's Stowe, Smugglers' Notch and Bolton Valley ski areas. These trails and more at Camel's Hump State Park are all within an hour's drive of Burlington, and both contain segments of the popular Long Trail (the same trail that takes you up Mt. Mansfield). Or, you can drive a bit farther to reach trails in Vermont's Green Mountain State Forest or upstate New York's Adirondacks.
San Francisco, California
Among U.S. cities, only New York City is more densely populated than San Francisco, yet hundreds of miles of quiet trails are found within an hour's drive. Head north across the Golden Gate Bridge for redwood trails at Muir Woods National Monument, the Marin Headlands and Mt. Tamalpais. Head south on the Coast Highway for Coast Range hikes in Pacifica that serve up commanding views of the ocean. There are even lovely trails within San Francisco city limits in the Presidio and at Lands End—a wild stretch of coastal bluffs with three beaches. All of these parklands are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Asheville, North Carolina
Few cities are as surrounded by as many mountain trails as Asheville. The Blue Ridge Parkway skirts right past the city of 83,000, with nearby trails soaring high into the Blue Ridge Mountains a few miles from downtown Asheville. The area's best hikes lead to panoramic vistas. One of these is the 1.5-mile hike up 5,721-foot Mt. Pisgah from the Blue Ridge Parkway, where a restaurant at the top refuels your belly and soul. The Appalachian Trail also meanders through the mountains near Asheville. Worthy segments include the short Lover's Leap loop hike from Hot Springs (the trail runs right through the village's main street) and hikes that start from nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park's 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome — the highest point on the entire Appalachian Trail.
Traverse City, Michigan
The Midwest may not be as well-known for hiking as other parts of the country, but it's outstanding in the spring and early summer in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, where temperatures are cooler, hills are higher and wildflowers bloom later. Lakes, rivers and creeks are also more abundant in this northern belt of the Great Lakes region. Northern Michigan's Traverse City has all of these. It's a half-hour drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan, with 100 miles of hiking trails, 200 miles of dunes, and more hiking and camping on the ferry-accessible Manitou Islands. There are also dozens of other parks and nature reserves laced with trails nearby, including several right in Traverse City.
If you go
We know people are taking a second look at their travel plans right now. If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – May 31, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. This is in addition to our previous waiver, which waives all change fees – domestic and international – for tickets purchased March 3 – April 30, 2020. This is available for any of United's published nonrefundable fares. If you decide to cancel your flight, you can retain the value of your ticket to be applied to a new ticket without a fee. These electronic travel certificates are now valid for 24 months from the date they were issued. This includes all currently valid electronic certificates and all new ones issued on or after April 1, 2020. You might not see this policy change reflected everywhere right away – we appreciate your patience as we work to make that happen.
Eligible travelers on domestic flights and international tickets can request a refund on united.com or may call our contact centers if their flights have been severely adjusted or service to their destination suspended either due to government mandates or United schedule reductions related to COVID-19.
Certain tickets cannot be changed on united.com or the mobile app, including tickets booked through another airline (if the ticket receipt does not begin with 016). Please contact the original ticketing airline for changes.
Follow the steps below to stay up to date, change or cancel your flight.
Change your current flight:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
- Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
- Date of travel or destination
- Add a flight
- Remove a flight
- Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
- Continue through booking to confirm your new flight
Note: The change fee will display as waived, but any difference in fare may apply.
Cancel your flight and rebook later:
- On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your reservation information to retrieve your flight
- Select "Cancel flight"
- Confirm flight cancellation
- If you have future flight credit, when you return to the reservation, select "Use Future Flight Credit" to shop for new flights and apply the credit towards a new flight.
Canceling or changing an award flight:
When you select "Cancel flight," you will have the option to cancel your award reservation and redeposit the miles or to cancel your award reservation and use those miles for another trip in the future.
*We're currently experiencing heavy traffic to united.com. If you experience an error while trying to change or cancel your flight, please try again later.
Click through the slideshow below for more detailed instructions:
Start on the United homepage:
User can select 'My Trips' on the homepage widget to find and retrieve their reservation.
When and where possible, we are working to repatriate travelers who are stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Our teams are working closely with government officials here in the U.S. as well as in other countries where flying has been restricted to gain the necessary approvals to operate service. In regions where government actions have barred international flying, we have coordinated with the the U.S. State Department and local government officials to re-instate some flights. Additionally, we have been operating several extra flights to countries in Central America and South America as we continue to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world.
We have operated more than 68 repatriation flights from Panama City, Guatemala City, Quito, Lima, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and Roatan, bringing nearly 9,200 people home. We will continue working with government officials to operate extra flights to Houston from Quito, San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa and from Lima to Washington Dulles and beginning April 5, we will begin operating multiple charter flights between Delhi and San Francisco. We continue to review more opportunities for flights between the United States and other countries to bring citizens home.
Video provided by the U.S. Embassy Ecuador of Americans returning home on United.
Additionally, our Customer Solutions and Recovery team is working with customers in the following markets to rebook them on flights back to the United States as capacity allows, either on our aircraft or on one of our airline partners' planes:
- Quito, Ecuador
- Managua, Nicaragua
- Roatan, Honduras
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- Seoul, South Korea
- Melbourne, Australia
We also recently reinstated several international flights back into our schedule to support customers and essential businesses which depend on these routes. As a result, we will be the only airline to offer service between Newark/New York and London, San Francisco and Sydney, as well as Houston and São Paulo, Brazil.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Here's a fun way to take your next video call….from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude. We're introducing United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom, a video conferencing tool that many people are using to stay connected.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started. If you've already downloaded Zoom you can skip ahead to updating your background image (see instructions below).
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.