Pack Stories

For real trail junkies, vacation just doesn’t feel like vacation without windy dirt or sandy roads to tackle—and the closer they are to your (temporary) front door, the better. Sure, proximity to nightlife and shopping can be nice, but what you really care about is how quickly you can get to the trailhead.

If that sounds like you, here’s some advice: Instead of spending your next holiday in a generic hotel room or a roadside motel, book one of these unique, off-the-beaten-path offerings from AirBnB. They’ve all got cool, cozy vibes, gorgeous views, fresh air, and nature at their doorstep.


Treehouse at Kilauea Volcano; Hawaii


Past guests call this house in the trees “magical” and say they’ve never stayed anywhere like it. It’s accessed via ladders and a lava path, and adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are plenty of rainforest hiking trails nearby, including one with footprints preserved from an eruption over 100 years ago.


Charming Yurt with Mountain View; Spain


This eco-friendly, fully furnished space in Andalusia has a wood-burning stove, an outdoor shower, and a beautiful terrace for dining and relaxing after a long run. (There’s also a covered pool and sauna on the property.) It’s just a short walk from hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, as well as rock climbing and horseback riding opportunities.


Off the Grid and Forty Feet Up; Oregon


Modeled after the classic fire towers built by the U.S. Forest Service in the 1900s, this modern version has a full kitchen, propane stove, heat, and comfortable beds. But it’s still miles from civilization, located on 160 acres of private land surrounded by the Umpqua National Forest. Once you’ve checked out the hiking and biking trails in the immediate vicinity, take a scenic drive to Crater Lake National Park, just two hours away.


Kowhai Den at Lake Hawea; New Zealand


There’s certainly no shortage of running and biking routes in Wanaka—a mecca for outdoor adventure lovers—and there’s no better place to take advantage of them than this charming studio apartment. After you’ve explored the trails, take a 50-meter stroll down to Lake Hawea, a popular spot for kite surfing, boating, and fishing.


Charming Eco House Near the Beach, Portugal


Just one hour from Lisbon and 15 minutes from the beach, this solar-powered cottage is nestled tranquilly in the Alentejo mountain region. Your hosts will be happy to recommend nearby running trails, and they also provide bikes so you can discover your own favorite places. Say hello to the neighbors while you’re there—they’re Finish, English, and Swiss!


Garden Flat with Mont Blanc Views; France


This one-bedroom apartment is housed in a former schoolhouse, and gets plenty of sunlight—and fabulous mountain views—year-round. Although it’s only a 15-minute walk to downtown Chamonix (and a 10-minute walk to Brevant ski lift), it’s quiet and peaceful, with hiking and running trails directly behind the building.


Mountain Cabin on Cooper Creek, Georgia


Through-hikers starting out on the nearby Appalachian Trail may want to rest their heads in this spacious log cabin for a night (or several) before they begin their journey. (It’s about an hour’s drive from the AT’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain.) There’s lots of day hiking nearby too, plus an outdoor fireplace and a 5-person hot tub—because who doesn’t like a little luxury, even when they’re roughing it in the woods?

By Amanda MacMillan

Photo: Maksym Dykha/

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