Fall is not usually a season you would think of for hiking, but actually, the respite from the summer heat is a great reason to go exploring. Fall also has the advantage of fewer visitors, fewer bugs, and milder weather, not to mention the variety of pretty autumn leaves. We found three amazing trails across the US that promise gorgeous scenery.
As with any hike, travelers should make sure to be prepared. For fall hiking, you will have to make some adjustments. Before we make the recommendations for trails to hike, here are a few pro-tips for preparing for fall hiking: 1. This is probably the most important: wear sturdy, comfortable hiking boots. Go to stores like Sorel or R.E.I., and pick up a pair of good boots with deep treads for traction. You will be, hopefully, doing lots of hiking, so make sure they fit well. 2. Dress in layers. The autumn weather will be much cooler than the searing heat of summer, but hiking is still a workout. If you work up a sweat, you’ll have the flexibility of taking your jacket or sweater off, and putting it back on once the weather changes. 3. This is an all-season recommendation: bring plenty of water and food. Whether you’re hiking a short distance or camping out for a couple of days, it’s easy to get dehydrated, and underestimate the amount of calories you’re burning as you’re hiking. 4. Carry your fully-charged cell phone and make sure that someone else knows where you are, especially if you are hiking alone, even if you consider yourself an experienced hiker.
It’s hard to beat the national parks for great scenery. Many of them are easy and cheap or free to access, and the National Park Service website is chock full of information for each park. If you are on the East Coast, and want a less crowded place to experience its famed fall foliage, check out the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Historic Park. It’s got sugar maple trees and 400 year old hemlocks, not to mention a dairy farm on which you can learn all about rural Vermont agriculture and heritage.
Hike from inn to inn along the California coast. California’s sunny year-round weather is legendary, and hiking along the coast will give you a reprieve from the heat as well as breathtaking views of the ocean. For a great guide, check out the Walkabout California books, which lay out the routes for each hike mile-to-mile. There are several exciting treks you can take, but we recommend the latest addition – hiking from Malibu to Mexico.
Of course, great hiking trails aren’t just reserved for the coasts. The midwest also promises stunning scenery, beautiful fall scenery and interesting foliage and history. If you are into rock climbing, check out the Barn Bluff in Red Wing, Minnesota. Red Wing itself boasts lots of great entertainment, but the main path is easily accessible and you can follow it to a scenic overlook and gaze upon the traffic below.