Urban Hikes & The Art of Finding Adventure Wherever You Are
Growing up in the suburbs outside of Tampa, I sort of straddled the line between two super different lifestyles. Drive a little West and there was endless bumper to bumper traffic, hip coffee bars, craft breweries that taught me everything I know about beer, and skyscrapers jammed right up against the bay. Drive a little East and there were acres and acres of strawberry fields, the smell of orange blossoms mixed with diesel and dirt, tractors causing the traffic jams, and the best ribs ever sold out of a flatbed truck with a smoker towed behind. As a child, I saw Broadway plays downtown and rode horses down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. I walked between two worlds – the Tampa Bay that people picture when you tell them that’s where you’re from and the place that makes your visiting friends say “did I just hear a cow moo behind your house??” And neither interpretation is wrong.
Being so close to two totally opposite ways of life, I learned to find adventure no matter which half of town I was on. If you’re used to adventuring out in the backcountry somewhere, learning not to tie your definition of adventure to being way out in the wilderness pretty much doubles your odds of having awesome adventures somewhere else. If you hardly ever venture out of the city or suburbs, learning to rough it in the back country does the same thing. Too often, I think, especially for the outdoorsy crowd (which I include myself in), it’s easy to negate urban adventures as somehow less adventurous. But really, all this does is tie us down to a pretty narrow description of what being an outdoorsman is. And that’s not very adventurous of us at all.
Believe me, I love being off in the woods somewhere drinking campfire coffee and watching my dogs track critters. However, adaptation and learning to make your own adventure really is what it’s all about. So, I decided to share one of my favorite spots for an urban hike in the hopes of inspiring someone else to give a new kind of adventuring a go.
Since we’re getting towards the tail end of my husband’s post deployment leave, I decided to take him and my brother and sister along on a walk down Tampa’s Riverwalk. The Riverwalk is a 2.4 mile trail that runs along Tampa’s waterfront – Garrison Channel and the Hillsborough River. Overall the Riverwalk links five museums, seven parks, awesome views of the University of Tampa and the downtown skyline, and a whole bunch of other neat things to do. We started our adventure down by Channelside and walked up to UT and then back. Along the way we passed several people jogging, playing catch with their pups at the park, photographing the city skyline, and kayaking in the river – all the people seizing the moment and adventuring wherever there are adventures to be had.
Also, just from a convenience standpoint, it took us just as long to drive down town and hike along the Riverwalk as it would have for me to have driven to the nearest State Park. It truly is all about growing where you’re planted and appreciating all of the opportunities that are around you. There are probably a few places to go for urban hikes near your neck of the woods that still have yet to be discovered.
If my words aren’t enough to convince you to add an urban hike to your repertoire, perhaps some pictures of the pretty Riverwalk will inspire you to give it a shot.
This is the start of the trail down by Channelside. Along the way there are different historical markers and lots of things to see.
Our trip along the Riverwalk was a really nice change of pace and a much needed reminder that its good to switch it up every once in a while. After we got our urban hikes in, we got back to being out in the sandy wilderness at Gasparilla Island State Park. More adventure posts on Gasparilla Island and many more to come!
What are some of your favorite places to go for an urban adventure?