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From Summits to Sidewalks: The Rise of Urban Hiking with Miles Howard

If I asked you where you go hiking you'd probably rattle off a bunch of trails that snake up mountains, past streams and are generally all dirt.

But if I told you there was a growing movement within the outdoor community to take hiking to the streets?

Today on THE ROCK FIGHT journalist Miles Howard sits down to talk about Boston's Walking City Trail and HIKING EVERY CITY, his initiative to get urban areas connected by their green spaces and change the way we look at hiking here in the United States.

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this transcript was automatically produced and may contain typos and errors from the original audio

Colin (00:01):

Welcome to the Rock Fight where we speak our truth, slay sacred cows sometimes agree to disagree. I'm Colin True, and today I'm picking a fight with hiking because it can be so much more as you will find out today with my guest Miles Howard. So stick around because by the end of the show you're going to be lacing up those shoes or boots and running out your front door. And if you need some new shoes or boots or you have some boots or a jacket or a pack or a tent that you'd like to sell, well then you have to head to one place gear, who since 1999 has been your go-to home for anew outdoor gear and apparel, all of that stuff you have to sell gear Trade will send you a box and a free shipping label to get it to them. It's that easy to make cash money guys with your old stuff. So head to gear, click on the sell your gear tab to learn more. All right, let's start the show. Welcome.

(00:57) So a few weeks back, Mike Roge, the editor of Mountain Gazette, came on the rock fight to talk about how great the East Coast is for outdoorsy activities in support of an article running in Mountain Gazettes. Most recent issue about the Walking City Trail, which is a new kind of hiking trail that's been established in Boston. I say a new kind of trail because it's not a trail in a green space near Boston. The trail itself is an urban hike. It's 27 miles long and connects according to Boston Boston's most Sally immersive parks, urban wilds gardens, and residential neighborhoods. For an evolving community, this needs to be celebrated. It's a milestone that puts what designer, founder and basically the father of the Walking City Trail journalist Miles Howard, what he calls urban hiking officially on the radar of outdoor adventurers. When I was working for brands in the outdoor industry and spending most of my weeks on airplanes, visiting customers, and attending trade shows, I would look for any dirt I could find near my hotel to go for a run.

(01:56) If I was in anything resembling a city and I was able to string together even a few steps on something resembling a trail, I would sometimes snap a picture and post it with the hashtag Urban Trail running. Finding ways to get the feel of what we experience in the woods or the mountains or on water and atypical locations just make sense to expand the outdoor community to include even more individuals looking to understand what, knowing the secret of going outside can offer you. Miles is tapping into that and then some. In addition to growing the Walking City Trail, he has also launched a bigger project that he's calling Hike Every city where he is attempting to replicate what he's done in Boston across the entire United States, miles is effectively picking a rock bike with the institution of hiking and proving that it can be so much more. And he's here today to talk about urban hiking, hike every city, and to give an update on Boston's Walking City Trail. I'm Colin True. Welcome back to the Rock Fight. And today we're going to blow away how you view hiking with my guests Miles Howard. Alright, so we're here today with Miles Howard to talk about hiking in cities. Miles, thanks for joining the show. Appreciate you being here.

Miles (03:04):

Thanks for having me, Colin. I'm happy to be here.

Colin (03:06):

I did need to start. You've been very vocal this summer about the Dew point in Boston. How are we today? Are we surviving out there,

Miles (03:14):

Colin? It's like the liberation of France here right now. I mean, people are, the dew point is beyond us. The temperatures have gone down to the mid seventies. It feels like summer is finally summer as many of us have known it here. And I feel like I'm just seeing people active out on the streets and in the parks in Boston in a way that's been weirdly lacking for the last couple of months. So I'm in a really happy frame right now when it comes to the conditions dear.

Colin (03:41):

Well, that's a perfect segue to get into what we wanted to chat about today. So there's a fight that I kind of often pick, at least in my own mind with our outdoor community. And I feel like there's a real binary way which a lot of people approach the activities we pursue. And maybe it's again, my end of the age spectrum like we're talking about, but for a group that is supposed to be sort of welcoming and rooted in the life-changing experience of playing outside, I think there's a lot of, Hey, you're doing it wrong, mudslinging of like this is no, no, no, this is how you actually do it. And so I love the idea of bringing hiking to an urban setting and calling it hiking and I want to get into what we call it in a second, but I think that makes a lot of sense.

(04:21) Just traveling for work, being in cities that I'm unfamiliar with and going on long walks, I got to do, I was in London for three weeks once and I just took a train to the center of the city and walked all the way back down to Croton where I was staying, and it just really got to see the city. And even then I wasn't even targeting natural spaces. It was just cool to kind of see it that way, which in our car driven world doesn't really often become the case for a lot of folks. So I guess that leads me to the question is to start with you. I mean, is urban hiking an actual thing? Is it your thing that you would like to make a bigger thing? And I guess a follow up to that is how did it become your thing?

Miles (04:59):

Yeah, so I think that urban hiking is something that we've been doing in different denominations for a really long time, but the idea of calling it hiking is kind of nascent these days. I mean, the French have this word I'm sure you've heard of that's called flare, which in some translations means botanist of the pavement. And it sort of evokes the idea of somebody exploring a city landscape really absorbing the environmental qualities with a kind of curiosity and sometimes a detachment too. And this is something that many, many people I know do by habit on trips when they go to visit cities, like your foray to London that you just mentioned. I was actually just seeing a friend from high school who I hadn't caught in years back in the winter. And when I told her about the urban hiking work I've been involved with in Boston, she immediately said, oh yeah, my husband and I do that all the time whenever we go places urban hiking.

(05:56) And I was kind of like, wow, tell me more. How do you define this? And she described that what they would do is that they would go to a high point in any city they were visiting, whether it's a skyscraper big hill, and they'd look out and they'd find some other point on the horizon they wanted to get to. And from there that they would pull out maps and sort of improvise and find a trail to get there. And when I say trail, I mean they would piece together parks and streets to find a really interesting way to walk there absorbing the qualities of the environment. And that's just one example of how I think many of us are already doing urban hiking without necessarily thinking of it in those terms. Another example of how it's kind of cropped up in places around the world over the last centuries is in cities like Edinburgh for instance, you have these trails such as the Waters of Leh Trail, which follows one of the cities central waterways is it heads out toward the sea pretty much.

(06:55) And these are thought of as walking routes quite often, but one could just as easily define them as a hiking route when you consider, well, this isn't actually just the most direct way to get from point A to point B, it's a way to walk through an urban environment sizing up the diversity of the landscape, little curiosities you find along the way. And in theory, isn't that what we see when we go to the back country to hike too? I mean I think that for me the parallels here are strong enough that it's almost ironic that the idea of coining this activity as hiking in an urban environment still feels like such an emerging thing right now. And I can point to something that I think has made that a thing in the last couple of years especially, and it's pretty obvious it's the pandemic really.

(07:43) And this kind of leads into how urban hiking became my thing. I mentioned earlier that I used to work in the back country. I was a Hutt manager for the Appalachian Mountain Clubs High Huts, and I did this after a childhood that was full of hiking. We grew up right near a forest near here in Boston, the Middlesex Fells, my parents and I hiked to waterfalls and lakes and such in the mountains in the summer. So working up there was a dream, but I found myself coming back to the city on my days off because I couldn't quite quit just the cultural amenities of being in a place like Greater Boston too. I didn't want to be away from that for too long. So for ages, I think that there was this question looming in the back of my mind about, well, could you ever combine these places in a recreational sense, like the journey element of backcountry hiking and the cosmopolitan wonders of being a city like Boston or LA or Seattle.

(08:40) And the thing that really made that marriage of these two landscapes possible for me and that I think really brought the term urban hiking to the forefront of my mind was being isolated here in Boston for the first year of the pandemic because all of at a time when many of us craved the cathartic release of going for a hike somewhere, we couldn't go to the usual venues that we would head off to. They were out-of-state travel rules. Trailhead parking locally was a nightmare. And so increasingly, instead of going to the white or the Green Mountains myself and many of my friends decided, well, we should just kind of use what's here in our backyard, but try to think of it with the same outlook as though we were going for a big hike through the PAMA WASA wilderness. And what I started doing that summer of 2020 going through fall and even the winter was I would identify these parks and green spaces and little urban forests in Boston where I hadn't been before that I'd been curious to check out.

(09:39) And I would look at a map and see how long would it take to walk here from my back door through these spaces and back again. This was at a time where even taking public transit seemed kind of risky even if you masked up. So these would be circuitous urban hikes. And I would do that. I would suit up for the elements, even if it was below 20 and icy outside, I would pack provisions and I would go off on these urban journeys. And increasingly I found that they started to provide the same kind of release and mental immersion and what's immediately around you is going hiking in New Hampshire or Mainwood. And so for me, I think that kind of revealed that the way we think about hiking and what we define as hiking is so rooted in mental perceptions we have. And in theory, if you can kind of unlock that realization that you can go hiking in a city environment, then hiking is something that can in theory happen anywhere. And that's very much what I've been trying to demonstrate with the Walking City Trail project here in Boston. And we'll increasingly be trying to demonstrate with the hike every city project that's going to span beyond Boston pretty soon.

Colin (10:51):

Yeah, so talk about that. I think we're so aligned on this and I think the mindset of you're doing it wrong is probably definitely the older outdoor enthusiasts, the the one who came of age like I did in the eighties and nineties, and it's like there's a real weight of going outside and that's it. And when I look at even my own kids, I've kind of had this mindset of anything outdoors, anything outside is an outdoor activity now. And an outdoor activity 10, 15, 20 years ago was like, oh, you're hiking, you're mountain biking, whatever. And it's like, no, now I'm riding my e-bike to the beach to play spike ball. That's outdoor. I think there's a little bit of the flexibility is starting to be shown there. And when I think of when I traveled for work, I definitely would take advantage of anywhere I went.

(11:38) Even if I was staying at the Courtyard Marriott by the roundabout at the business park, it'd still be like, where is there a trail? I bet there's one nearby, right? And it's let me go for a quick run, even if it's like a mile and a half long, do a couple out and backs just to kind of see what's going on here. And to see the integration, a little bit of the culture of our society with going outside is just a really special way to kind of view all these things. So yeah, I definitely want to hear more about Hike every city. As I was digging into a bit about, I knew about the Walking City Trail, obviously we talked to Rogie about that, but then looking at your sub stack, it's like, oh, there's a bigger project at play here. So what's the story with Hike every city?

Miles (12:20):

Yeah. So I think we're jump into that is touching on what you mentioned earlier with this idea of, hey, there's a certain way to hike you, you're doing it wrong. I think that a lot of that is rooted in Traditionalism, but I think a part of it also comes down New

Colin (12:34):


Miles (12:34):

To New England. Yeah, there's exactly, we can't quit our history, but

Colin (12:42):

We kicked the British out. We're going to kick you out

Miles (12:45):

Boston Strong. I know, but it's like, I think a lot of it comes down to a sort of gatekeeping that people might not realize is gatekeeping too, this sort of fear that there are people who've been going to places to hike for generations who have kind of an intrinsic right to these places and there's this fear that they'll be trampled upon by more users in the near future. And one thing that we've seen in the last five years, really even before the pandemic, is just enormous burst of popularity in hiking culturally, which I'm very happy about for the most part. But of course this conversation has inflamed those fears of overuse in places. And some people might approach that issue, which is a real issue with hiking becoming more popular by saying, well, we need to find ways to restrict access to some of these hiking venues so that they're not trampled too much.

(13:43) But I think that frankly, the opposite approach of actually creating more spaces where people can hike and highlighting more hiking venues is the more progressive way to go here because I don't think you can really suppress the appetite that people have for this here. And I think that rather than trying to deny reality with where hiking culture is right now, why not welcome that and designate more places as grounds where hiking can happen? And that's pretty much what the hike every city project is about. It's about identifying ways to go hiking in all sorts of urban environments that might seem like the polar opposite of places where one would think to go on a hiking trip. And these can be done very intentionally as trips that you plan to a city where the main goal is to go hiking through parks and forests and interesting urban infrastructure or you were alluding to with some of your trips.

(14:37) It could be something that someone does on the fly improvisationally when they happen to be visiting a city. This question of looking at a map, whether it's all trails, Google maps, and figuring out, so I could go walk through these places, could I walk between them? Could I make this a bigger thing? And the thing is, I was already doing this before I came up with the idea of hike every city. I mean, especially after mapping the Walking City trail here in Boston and realizing how many interesting pedestrian spaces you could identify in cities with the use of all trails and other apps that work with OpenStreetMaps data, this just became my way of working out and exploring and going somewhere. I mean, one of my best friends lives in Seattle right now, and for my CK Mine the Moss, I did a piece back in October last year where I chronicled what it was like to take sort of an improvised urban hike on a trail that I basically designed and mapped myself looking at ways to walk between these parks.

(15:39) I think it was about 12 miles. I went from Lake Washington over to Belltown via the Arboretum, Interlake and Park and a bunch of other great little spaces including one park. Such a fun city to log through. Have you been to that little skate park under I five? Oh, I mean, yeah, that blew me. That knocked my socks off. And so I had so much fun doing that. And I'm constantly looking for ways to marry the recreational sides of my life with writing work too that I figured, Hey, what if I just tried doing this in other cities and what if I reached out to urban hikers or communities of hikers within those cities to try to collaborate on identifying an interesting trail to hike or maybe even doing a hike together. And that's increasingly what the next wave of hike every city is going to look like.

(16:28) For the first wave, which was kind of a three city test case that I'd mainly published through my newsletter, I went to Philly, New York and Providence and did three trails, what I would really call pop-up trails that I sort of mapped myself after getting some input from people I knew who lived in those cities about interesting spaces to walk through spaces that really demonstrated the environmental characteristics of each city. And basically I did about a 13 mile hike in Philly from the Wisa Hick and Woods to the art museum steps where Sylvester Stallone ran up and down, which is kind of the catan of that hike. And then in New York, I did a two-day urban hike from Central Park. The idea that Central Park is just the beginning of green spaces in New York. And I made my way about 26 miles up through Manhattan in the Bronx ending up at Pelham Bay Park, which is actually the largest park by far in New York.

(17:24) And then in Providence, I followed some of the rivers that converged downtown, which now have newly built pedestrian and bike greenways alongside them. And I found a way to visit all three of those rivers on a circuitous hike through the city ending up at the cobblestone walkway along the river where the water fire festival takes place each summer. So I had enough fun doing these hikes on my own and writing about them that it was an affirmation that this is a project I definitely want to keep doing. But the major change that's going to happen going forward is that when I go to the next wave of cities, which is likely to happen this fall sometime, I will be meeting up with local hikers and really having them kind of show me the area through their lens and sort of taking the lead on this front because I think that as much as one can easily jump into a city with the mapping tools we have today and discover all these places to really get that intertwined sense of historic narrative and environmental uniqueness, it really helps to meet up with folks locally.

(18:27) And one example of that that I'm really excited about is in Pittsburgh, they have a zillion staircases there that were built way back in the day to make it easier for just to get up and down the hills from the steel mills to their houses. And now that the mills aren't as much of a force there anymore, the stairs are left over and people tend to use them recreationally. And every October there's a group of Pittsburgh residents who gets together and does something called the Step Trek, which is a giant community hike on an improvised route up and down the staircases on the south side of the city. It's a real quad breaker. I was there recently and I met someone whose wife is actually one of the organizers of Step Track, and I'll be heading back there to do that this October, and that'll be one of the stops on the next hike, every city wave.

(19:17) So it's something that I hope to take to as many venues as possible in the next year, and depending upon the visibility of this next wave, the partnerships that it possibly yields that could happen. But for now, I'm just, I see this as an advocacy role more than anything right now, just demonstrating that you can do this, you could do this on your next trip to any city. And I think that can be pretty liberating almost for someone who goes to an urban environment and has only one idea of what they can do with their time there to suddenly realize, whoa, I could go on a real journey here.

Colin (19:59):

I think while you're talking, it made me think hiking's actually almost late to the game. Well, hold on me back up. I think what I was saying at the beginning about this being the outdoor community, being seen as a welcoming community, but there is that sort of, if you're unfamiliar, if it's new or seems like dangerous or maybe you were raised and culturally you don't go outdoors or whatever, or you're just have folks who would encourage you to go outside. But if you think about what climbing gibs have been doing for the better part of a few decades now and sort of blending that sort of like, Hey, this, we're going to recreate this sort of really scary thing in a completely approachable way. What about gravel bikes in the last few years? Right? It's like you don't have to be a tour de France like spandex roadie who Kit has to match all the time and go out there and want to put up big miles, but you also don't have to be a Huck it off a cliff mountain biker.

(20:51) Either you can go on a little venture and kind of blend both worlds and it's just approachable for the uninitiated. I think thinking of hiking, if I say we're going to go for a hike, if you're not used to hiking, you might immediately drizzle at that, right? And be like, I don't want you, that sounds hard. I have to wear big boots. What's going to happen? And say, no, no, no, we're going to connect these three parks in this city and then there's a great bar at the end. We're going to get a beer afterwards. That sounds pretty great. And just sort of in terms of, again, expanding the community, it's almost like feels like this is important work on top of just really interesting and fun work too. You know what I mean?

Miles (21:28):

Yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, I've been hiking for decades. It's been the backbone of my recreational habits and there's times when I really don't want to go hiking in the sense that we tend to think about hiking right there. The other week I was up in the presidential range helping a friend complete or traverse. I took the cog railway at Meadow on Washington and hiked back down the Amus Ravine trail eventually. And I'm still recovering from that. I mean, my legs are, that's tough to say what they were 10 years ago. And so one of the things that I love about urban hiking personally and in a broader sense is that it allows people to craft the hiking experience. They want to decide their exposure level up to a point more easily. I mean, if you're doing a traverse of the Mansfield Ridge line and you suddenly aren't feeling it anymore, I mean, you can't just hop on a bus or a train and leave.

(22:21) You can't sidle up to a bar and get some sort of liquid nourishment. I mean, it's, you're committed at that point. And that's understandably very intimidating to a lot of people. I'm intimidated by that still sometimes. And so I do think that part of the act of demystifying hiking, and I'm so glad you made those parallels to climbing and mountain biking is creating spaces where you can do it with a lower threshold of risk, frankly. And it's kind of weird to me that hiking hasn't really gotten there quite yet. But I do think urban hiking could be a very substantial piece of that going forward. And there are cities that at a more municipal level, and this is mostly in Europe, are designing more long walking trails that they're calling trails. With that idea in mind, you have a hiking experience with the comforts and security of a city environment right here too. So I find that very heartening to see that happening across the pond.

Colin (23:22):

One thing I was thinking about though is when you look at crowded outdoor areas, I mean, is there a concern for trails becoming successful, maybe bringing unwanted crowds in urban areas? I mean, you think about the ups and downs of gentrification. Is this an extension of that? I mean, mean obviously on paper this just makes sense. It's like, great, I live in this place. Look at this. We can welcome more people in. Is there a chance for things to become almost too successful in a particular city or given place?

Miles (23:53):

Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think that there's two kinds of concern that you tend to see in urban areas when it comes to establishing trails, whether they're for cyclists, pedestrians, or both. First, you've got kind of the classic nimby territorialism from homeowners who may live adjacent to a green space and they don't want undesirables walking through their area. And that's something that we contend with pretty much every project under the sun that involves utilizing public space in residential areas like this. But I think that the question about whether this could be too successful, bringing more traffic to an area that could has, and gentrification is a more concerning question for which I don't quite have an answer yet, because we're still largely figuring out how to address the housing crisis in cities like Boston without hasting gentrification. I mean, of course there's the supply side argument that we just need to build more housing, but that does not necessarily solve the displacement problem.

(24:45) We think about what type of housing we're building, who gets left behind at that point. And so I think that if there's any kind of tonic for this right here, one thing I've noticed when I've led guided hikes on the Walking City Trail is that they tend to become more like giant roving conversations at a certain point where I'm not necessarily narrating them 24 7, but where people are talking socially cross-pollinating and increasingly commenting on things they see or things they know about the area or passing through. And an example of something somebody might comment on is preserved affordable housing in an area that is very much at risk for gentrification. And one of the things that I really, that came onto my radar later in the game with the Walking City Trail is that I think that urban trails can also be a possible springboard for civic engagement from people on issues like the housing crisis and how it manifests in certain cities.

(25:41) And so while it's possible that you could simply just bring lots of people to an area, increase the perception of desirability for that area and worsen gentrification, you also could leave a lot of people with a deeper understanding of the history of that area, what people have to contend with there, and what it would take to mitigate issues like displacement. And I think that community hikes, whether it's a person like a trail founder guiding one, or whether it's just people who live in a community through which a trail passes activating it together can spur that. I've definitely seen it here in Boston. And actually one of my fellow trail builders who came and sort of joined the behind the scenes work later in the game, a really nice guy named Matthew Brody for him, the window into urban hiking because he wasn't really an avid hiker beforehand, was this possibility of the trail as a cross pollinator thing for neighborhoods right there for bringing people together for sparking conversations about civic issues. And I'd never thought of that from the beginning, but it's really become a part of my outlook on how I see the utilities of hiking trails in the cities.

Colin (26:53):

Well, speaking of the Walking City trail, how is your baby, what's going on with your baby? Do you keep tabs on all the different sections? Do you kind of just cruise by to see who's out on it? Yeah,

Miles (27:05):

I kind of do it all. I mean, I find myself just walking pieces of it as part of my commute to various parts of the city sometimes. I mean, I live really close to Jamaica Pond, which is sort of the halfway point of the trail. And to get down toward the Fenway area, I can pretty much just follow the trail route as it goes through the pond, area Park, mission Hill. But other times I do go and more deliberately keep tabs on how certain things are looking. And that's been particularly relevant lately because this summer, several fellow trail volunteers, now I've actually been installing the first physical signs on the Walking City Trail. We're covering the whole thing. It was something that one of our city counselors, counselor, Kendra Lara, who's been a huge supporter of the trail since its inception, it was an idea that she floated to us last October on a group hike. Would you ever consider doing this? And so we actually,

Colin (27:59):

You course I would. I didn't know we could do that.

Miles (28:04):

Well, it's funny. I never thought that would be a possibility. I

Colin (28:08):

Figured it. Why would

Miles (28:08):

You? A nightmare. Yeah. You imagine the layers of red tape you'd have to deal with to get permission to do this

Colin (28:14):

Isn't like putting a white mark on a tree. We're talking about putting up signs in your city, right? This is not

Miles (28:21):

Exactly, and we actually had some conversations with the Boston City Council about that last winter that ultimately brought us back to what I think was the inevitable conclusion, which is that we're not going to get permission to do this, but we're not necessarily going to get penalized for doing this either. And so what we've been working on for the last couple of months is creating our own laminated trail signs that sort of serve as portals to the online resources. People can type in a U R L, scan a code on there, get all the maps and everything, and we're putting them on the whole length of the trail. Half of it's done at this point. And actually on August 13th, just under two weeks from now, we are going to knock out the second half of the trail in one big day basically. So by September Prime urban hiking season in Boston, Dakota, the whole trail should have signs on it. And I've been back out to just see if anyone's taken the signs down yet. And with the exception of one sign that I'm pretty sure was taken down by this ornery looking homeowner watching us put the whole thing up, all the signs are still installed.

Colin (29:24):

Well, we're getting low on time, and I, I need to pick at least one little rock fight because it'd be kind of fun to do because we've referenced two of my all time favorite cities lived in both Seattle and Boston. You designed a trail in Boston and have done an urban hike in Seattle. Seattle's inspired you. So omitting the bias of residency, which city has the best urban hiking trail, and why is it Seattle? Because the food's just better in Seattle, Boston versus Seattle. And there's a lot of, there is I think a synergy between the two cities. And there's one thing, there's a reason why I like both so much. But anyway, if you were going to go pick, if you're only go one more hike in either of those two places, which one would you choose?

Miles (30:07):

So you asked which city has the best urban trail right now? Oh, this isn't fair. My answer to this question, semantics may be different a few months. Well, here's the thing. I will start by saying that I think as an environment, Seattle has a slight edge on Boston when it comes to being able to host urban hiking trails. And that's for a couple of reasons. I mean, as we've talked about before, I mean the pervasiveness of ferns and conifers and more around Seattle is just incredible. It brings that sense of I'm in the city, but also out of my element in the country to the forefront in a way that Boston very much doesn't select environments, but in others you really have to kind of reach to find that. And I think Boston

Colin (30:54):

Does, I think compared to other east coast cities more so than other east coast cities. But compared to Seattle, you're right, it's not quite the same, right?

Miles (31:01):

Yeah. I mean, Boston has this impressive metric where every resident here now lives within a 10 to 15 minute block of a park or any green space, which is great. But those parks and green spaces are not created equally at all when it comes to how immersive they are, how well kept up they are. And in Seattle, it just feels like the city has been built into the wooded folds of these hills, which is just such a cool feeling. And I think for environmental diversity, for interesting topography, that just makes Seattle one of the best places you could host urban trails in. But the thing that's kind of ironic to me though is that Seattle doesn't have an urban trail like the Crosstown Trail or the Walking City Trail yet. But there is a project that I've heard about Underfoot by a fellow whose last name is Hendrickson, I'm forgetting his first name right now, who is allegedly designing a trail through Seattle that's going to visit almost 30 miles of spaces designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

(31:58) So if we were to dig into this question a couple of months from now, even, it could be a very different answer because if this is a real thing that's coming online, soon coming, I'll be on the first plane to Seattle to try and hike it later this year. And you mentioned the food too, and I will give you this one. Hands down, Seattle has the edge right here. I mean, there's a whole host of theories and reasons why Boston's food scene hasn't quite exploded like other cities have. I think that there's a puritan element to it. There's also the cost of housing here that's just been so bad that mom and pop places can't afford to hang on. But of course that's not unique to Boston. So it's a deeper rooted mystery than that. And when I think about where to step off the trail and find a great bowl of poke, for instance, it's not even a question really. So no,

Colin (32:56):

I think it's fair because listen, you have created something that has trail signs in it in Boston, and Seattle's still, you can do what you do, you did before. You can do it on your own, but there's not an established trail yet. So to that point, Boston, you hold the belt for a little while longer here,

Miles (33:15):

But we're vulnerable when Seattle does have that trail. Boom. I mean, really every time I've gone out there, I've thought, I know it's a somewhat emergent concept, but how has nobody done this here yet? It's perfect as an environment, this

Colin (33:31):

Type of thing. They'll never haves. And Murph standing on the corner being like, Hey, guy, you looking for the trail?

Miles (33:39):


Colin (33:39):

Fucking trail's over here.

Miles (33:42):

The other day I was on part of the trail and this school bus drove by and just belched out this huge black cloud of smoke. And this guy who looked like a dead ringer for Joe Pesci just goes by on a bike and sees me, and he goes, that's a mouthful of bus, huh, kid. And you couldn't get that in Seattle too. No, I mean there's just the clash of the urban and the rural in Boston is pretty great sometimes. And I think that in cities where the outdoors is much more constantly present, that's not going to be there. Philly would be another great city for that too.

Colin (34:12):

That's true. Well, Philly might get dangerous, but yeah, I remember, I think it was Matt Damon

Miles (34:17):

On Sports Days.

Colin (34:17):

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Don't go hiking if the Eagles are down by a couple touchdowns. Hey, listen, miles, thank you so much for coming on the show and talking about this. I think it's a really exciting topic. I think there's definitely, as much as I love our outdoor community, I love all the stories and different media and the things that we have sometimes. We've had a lot of the same over the years. And so it's really exciting to think about not just a new activity, but something like this that can be impactful on a whole host of levels. So I appreciate what you're doing, number one, and I really appreciate you coming on the chat with us about it.

Miles (34:52):

Well, thanks for having me, Colin. It's always a pleasure to chat about this and I just really appreciate your interest and openness to seeing the benefits and the potential of where this could go. I mean, I never would've imagined myself getting this deep into this 10 years ago, and I was working in the back country, but life is weird and the pandemic really made things weird. And so who knows, we could be having a lot more conversations about this in more places within a year or two. So thank you. I appreciate it.

Colin (35:17):

Alright, man. Thanks for coming on. You ever do any urban hiking, trail running, cycling, paddling, any outdoor activity in a city, send your feedback and stories to My Rock That's our show for today. Big thank you to my guest, miles Howard. To learn more about Miles or the Hike every city initiative or just to read his work, go to mind the dot sub To learn more about Boston's Walking City Trail, including resources, dissection or through hike the whole thing, head to boston We'll be back next week with more outdoor ideas that aim for your head. The rock Fight is a production of rock Fight L c. I'm Colin True. Thanks for listening. And now it's time to Let Less than Jakes own Krista makes. Take us out with the Rock Fight Fight song. We'll see you next time. Rock

Chris DeMakes (36:14):

Fight Bike where we speak our truth, slay sacred cows, and sometimes agree to disagree. We talk about human power outdoor activities and pick bikes about topics that we find interesting like my culture, music, the latest movie reviews and ideas, the aim for the head. This is where we speak our truth. This is where we speak our truth. Welcome to.


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