According Wesley TrimbleCommunications and Creative Director at The American Hiking Society, the cooler weather that the fall season brings to many parts of the country means that hikers will sweat less and, therefore, be “less likely to suffer from dehydration” or overheating, as they can in summer. Along with lower temperature than summer, more foliage than spring, and longer daylight hours than winter, the season may mark the perfect time to visit fall hiking destinations. .
Environmental conditions aside, fall hiking destinations often see fewer visitors than they might in summer, when people are looking to make the most of warm weather and seasonal vacations. This makes fall a perhaps more peaceful time to hike, with no crowds and even better photo opportunities, no photo bombers.
So with that in mind, you’ll likely have more room to roam (safely) and explore freely in the fall. Ready for the adventure? Keep reading for some of the best fall hiking destinations in the country, for hikers of all skill levels.
8 Scenic Hiking Destinations to Visit in Fall
1. Mount Greylock State Reservation: Massachusetts
Bellows Pipe Trail
At nearly 3,500 feet high, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. To reach the summit on foot – where you can see up to 90 miles on a clear day – travelers can choose from dozens of trails, depending on their skill and level of fitness. One option is the 6.5-mile Bellows Pipe Trail, which winds through cascading waterfalls. Whichever route you choose, expect beautiful forest views and colorful leaves all around.
2. Upper Piney River Falls Trail: Colorado
Upper Piney River Falls Trail
The Upper Piney River Falls Trail near Vail is one of Colorado’s most scenic fall hiking destinations. At the start of this moderately challenging 6-mile route, hikers are treated to stunning views of Piney Lake. From there, they will cross meadows and forests before reaching an impressive waterfall. Expect plenty of towering aspens adorned with eye-catching gold and yellow leaves.
3. Mount Mitchell: North Carolina
Mount Mitchell Trail
Located approximately 30 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River at nearly 6,700 feet. Visitors will find a whopping 40 miles of hiking trails here, with easy, moderate, and strenuous options to choose from.
For example, the Mountains-to-Sea State Trail – 22.9 miles one-way – is among the most difficult, while the 2-mile Commissary Trail is easier. In addition, the summit, surrounded by balsam trees, offers an ideal vantage point to admire the changing leaves that make up the valleys. Just be sure to bring a jacket, with cold weather due to the high altitude.
4. Lake Geneva shoreline trail: Wisconsin
Trail along the shores of Lake Geneva
Stroll along the Trail along the shores of Lake Geneva allows travelers to admire historic estates and manicured gardens along the waterfront, which in autumn is lined with lush vegetation. The path stretches for over 25 miles, winding through shoreline and wooded areas. The Lake Geneva Public Library at Downtown Lake is the recommended starting point; we suggest you take a walk at sunset when the sun hits the colorful leaves at just the right angle. Keep in mind that if you were to hike the entire route, it would take between eight and 10 hours, so plan accordingly.
5. Camelback Mountain: Arizona
Cholla Trail, Echo Canyon Trail
For iconic red rock views and a great workout i.e. without the sweltering summer heat, consider hiking camel back mountain this autumn. Rising to just over half a mile, this mountain is one of Arizona’s most popular hiking destinations. Here you will find two trails, Echo Canyon and Cholla; both are difficult, with Echo Canyon being steeper (while it’s only about 2.5 miles round trip, it climbs about 1,280 feet) and Cholla being longer (just over 1.4 miles ). The Cholla Trail also recently reopened to the public for the first time since 2020 due to construction. Hikers should be prepared to spot desert flora like cacti, saguaros, and mesquites, as well as animals like turtles, lizards, snacks, and rabbits.
Green Lake to Round Lake Trail
Located near Syracuse in central New York, Green Lakes State Park exudes a fairytale quality, thanks to its two glacial lakes – aptly named Green Lake and Round Lake – which offer otherworldly blue-green waters.
Around the lakes is an easy and peaceful paved trail loop lined with trees. In the fall, the leaves of the trees turn into a blaze of reds, oranges and golds which, combined with the emerald waters, make this place even more magical.
7. Ocean Path Trail: Maine
With its abundance of natural beauty, plenty of outdoor activities, 258 km of hiking trails and an abundance of flora (over 1,000 species), it’s no surprise that Acadia National Park is one of the most visited national parks in America. A great way to discover it is on foot, by following the Ocean Path Trail.
Along the 4.4-mile route, hikers are treated to postcard-worthy vistas with pink granite slabs, towering cliffs and, as the name suggests, sweeping ocean views . Just be sure to bring a comfortable pair of trainers: the trail is rocky, steep, and uneven. Notable sites along the trek include Sand Beach (famous for its mountain views and rocky shores), thunder hole (an underwater sea cave – visit a few hours before high tide to hear the thunder of the same name), Otter Cliff (surrounded by round rocks and boulders) and otter cove (where you will find some of the best sea views).
8. Ten Falls Trail: Oregon
Ten Falls Trail
As its name suggests, the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park offers hikers up-close views of all 10 waterfalls in the park. The moderately difficult loop is just over 7 miles and climbs about 800 feet. Plus, the hike is even more beautiful when the fall foliage is in full bloom. Along the trail (some parts of which are unpaved, FYI) you’ll also come across beautiful fir trees, pedestrian bridges, and babbling streams.
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