Fall is the perfect time for hiking! The weather’s cool. The trees are changing color. The air is crisp. It just feel good. Get out into nature this autumn – and be sure to take your favorite fall wine, local cheese, and crisp crackers to enjoy on a summit with friends as you take in the view.
Remember to take your time, know and follow the rules of the trail, and plan ahead to make the most of fall hiking:
Stowe Pinnacle Trail, Vermont
New England lays pretty good claim to the best fall foliage in the U.S. (And Vermont rules!) That can be debated, of course, but what can’t be is the beauty of the Stowe Pinnacle Trail. The summit takes some hard fall hiking, but once you’ve reached it, the view is incomparable.
Enchantment Lakes, Washington
This is a tougher day hike. It extends 10 miles and rises 6,000 feet. It’s well worth it for that moment when you crest a rise and see the mountains looming with flaming foliage before you. One of the most striking areas for fall hiking, it’s also perfect if you want to camp out near its alpine lakes. Perfection!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
There’s a section of the Appalachian Trail here that makes for a great hike. The stretch from Iron Mountain Gap to Cross Mountain is 17 miles, so you can charge ahead, make two days of it, or just do part of it. The end point is the Cherokee National Forest, which offers remarkable views and some great areas to camp.
Acadia National Park, Maine
There are several hikes that loop together and offer a good range from less strenuous to difficult. The nice part about this is that it’s easy to add or subtract from your hike on the fly depending on how you’re feeling. Acadia is renowned for its fall hiking and beautiful foliage. Because it’s so far northward, it gets its colors in a little earlier than other areas, so plan accordingly.
Glacier National Park, Montana
This is a popular summer destination, but it really starts to sing in autumn. It boasts a number of remarkable views. Wildlife is plentiful, so you’ll get a good chance to spot a lot of animals on the way. Any of its landscape viewpoints are perfect for stopping to have a quick lunch, enjoy flavorful fall wine, and take a breather.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
The Beaver Lake Loop is just one of several gorgeous hikes here. The Midwest offers up some great hidden trails. Pictured Rocks is a favorite that gives you a rare blend of colorful sandstone cliffs and vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows set against the cool, pale blue of the lake.
White River National Forest, Colorado
Aspen is famous for its skiing, tourism, and luxury hotels, but not far away is one of the most romantic and captivating fall hikes you’ll ever find. Maroon Bells is the name given to two 14,000-foot peaks carved out long ago by glaciers. Hiking below these brings you to Maroon Lake, a clear gem that reflects a mix of expressive hues and exquisite wildflowers framed by tall pines.
Where are you going this autumn? And which fall wine are you toting along?