Colleges with the Greatest Outdoor Trails

We all know how much time students spend indoors. There is so much to learn, so much to study, and in many states you can’t really study outside for a large chunk of the year. Some students make a point to get outside to run, bike, or hike. Activities such as these provide breaks from the constant stress of school in addition to the health benefits of being physically active. Of course, not all campuses are conducive to this. While you can run or bike just about anywhere, hiking generally requires some sort of woodsy or mountainous terrain. Having to breathe in all the exhaust from cars and the surrounding city doesn’t always make for a pleasant run either. So, here is a list of some colleges with the best outdoor trails.

University of Alaska

Flickr user Dan Doan

Flickr user Dan Doan

The Anchorage campus of the University of Alaska has access to quite a variety of hiking, with five trails located in and around Anchorage. The City Views trail, for example, has a shuttle that offers round trips from downtown to the base of Flattop Mountain (Alaska’s most-climbed mountain). The trail takes about an hour to complete and has a steep mountain grade, but you get great views of the city during your trek. Another option is the In-Town Woods trail, located in Kincaid Park. It has over eighty miles of hilly trail. Fairbanks and Juneau campuses also offer a wealth of hiking opportunities.

Experienced hikers attending the Fairbanks or Anchorage campuses can look into spending a long weekend at Denali National Park, which has some of the best hiking in the United States. Wildlife abounds in Alaska in general, and the national parks are some of the best places to witness it. To plan your activities in Denali, click here.

University of California, Davis

Flickr user Spacing Magazine

Flickr user Spacing Magazine

Biking is a way of life at the Davis campus of the University of California. Almost half of the students, faculty, and staff bike on campus every day. UCD offers classes on bike repair and maintenance, along with summer bike storage and commuter showers/lockers. Off-campus, Davis, CA, is recognized as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world. There are over 100 miles of bike lanes and paths throughout the city, and maps to provide directions for newcomer bike enthusiasts.

University of Athens

Flickr user US Forest Service

Flickr user US Forest Service

Found in Athens, GA, the University of Athens is a great place for those runners who hate the treadmill. The weather is perfect almost all year. The school’s running club will provide you with all the company you need (not to mention that extra motivation of having a consistent running partner). The campus sprawls across 729 acres, giving you plenty of route options on campus alone. Oconee National Forest and the Coastal Plain Research Arboretum are only short drives away if you’re looking for running trails with some new scenery.

Sierra Nevada College

Flickr user Andrew Leonard

Flickr user Andrew Leonard

Located in Incline Village, NV, on Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada College has easy access to some of the best hiking in the nation. The Pacific Crest Trail was listed by the Discovery Channel as one of the top ten hiking spots. Yosemite National Park is nearby, along with other great adventure spots. The college has a list of activities through their Outdoor Adventure Program that goes all year long. In addition to hiking and camping opportunities, students can bike and run many of the trails. There is a year-round climbing club as well!

Northern Arizona University

Wikimedia Commons user Derek.cashman

Wikimedia Commons user Derek.cashman

Northern Arizona University is looking to make biking as convenient as possible for its students. There is a trail that goes through the heart of campus called the NAU Trail. It’s about a mile long and makes getting to class easy. Students can rent storage lockers for their bikes throughout the year to keep them safe from weather. The surrounding city of Flagstaff has many trails for biking, running, and walking. The school provides a bike safety pamphlet that goes over biking trails in the area as well as Arizona biking laws.

University of Iowa

Wikimedia Commons user Vkulikov

Wikimedia Commons user Vkulikov

Iowa City is working to encourage biking as a means of transportation by installing bike racks and bike lanes around the downtown area, which is where you will also find the University of Iowa. The hilly terrain promises a good workout if you are biking to class. Classes and clubs will teach you how to care for your bike as well as how to go (safely) off the beaten path. The Iowa River Corridor Trail is a great place to start your distance biking on a smooth paved surface, with some spots in the woods along the way to practice your off-road mountain bike skills. Sugar Bottom Campground and Recreational Area is only a short drive away and is a great place to really work on your trail riding skills.

University of Oregon

Flickr user Meghan Naxen

Flickr user Meghan Naxer

The University of Oregon is lauded for its running trails. Prospective students even have the opportunity to take a “running tour”, where they are led by a guide through the various trails and paths around campus. Temperatures average between the 40’s and 60’s, which is just right for running. The school also has a large running club, so you don’t have to worry about self-motivation. Runners can also go through Hendrick’s Park in the surrounding city of Eugene. If anyone is looking for more of a challenge, then heading to Skinner’s Butte might be more your speed.

Interested in any of these colleges? Use College Raptor’s free match tool to discover if they’re a good match for you!

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