What better time to be outside than fall? Check out the best places to hike this season.
To find out exactly which fall hiking destinations deserve a visit, SELF asked 15 frequent hikers to recommend some of their favorite trails. Their picks include a wide range of difficulty levels and locations, so wherever you may be, or however skilled a hiker you are, there’s sure to be a fit here for you.
1. White Oak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
“One of the great National Parks to visit on the east coast for views of fall foliage is Shenandoah National Park. With so trail options from day hikes to backpacking trips, you have nice variety to choose from. One great hike I would recommend is a 9.5-mile trail called White Oak Canyon Trail. It’s a challenging hike that leads you along beautiful waterfalls, which creates such a peaceful and tranquil trek for the day. When you reach the halfway point there is a beautiful overlook view at about 2,000-ft elevation. It’s a perfect place to snap photos and get a look at all of the fall colors.
2. Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
“It is an amazing hike in general, but with the fall foliage it becomes magnificent. Over the course of around eight miles you get to see 10 incredible waterfalls, and even get to walk behind four of them. It is an old growth forest, so between the massive trees and gigantic yellow leaves everywhere, it truly feels magical.”
—Ellie Hoffman, hiker and traveler, @elliegoesoutside
3. The Gothics via St. Hubert’s Trailhead, Adirondacks, New York
“This hike is the epitome of a rugged, challenging, and oh-so-fun New England trail. It’ll push your limits just enough so that you enjoy the 360-degree view from the bald summit above. Relax and take in the jaw-dropping foliage of the mountains all around you, while also ticking another Adirondack 46er (one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondack Mountains) off your list!”
—Felecia Moran, hiker and explorer, @dora_la_explorer
4. Eastern Sierras, California
“Some of the best fall sights and hikes in California can be found in the Eastern Sierras, most notably the wilderness that cover northern Inyo County and Mono County. A few of the go-to fall locations include Bishop Creek, Convict Lake, and the Mammoth Lakes Trails, all which offer gorgeous views along their different levels and lengths of hiking trails and walking paths. Within Mammoth Lakes, a few trails are more known for their colors and views, including Heart Lake Trail, June Lake Loop, and Rock Creek Lake Trails.”
5. High Pass Loop, North Cascades, Washington
“This hike is called High Pass Loop, which is a multi-night backpacking trip. I love it because it’s challenging and fun. Fall is the best time to go because you get the fall colors and also snow as you make your way higher. We went towards the end of October, so when we made it back down to the small German-style town of Leavenworth, we enjoyed beers and brats (which are always my favorite) during Oktoberfest.”
—Brooklyn Bell, artist and adventurer, @badgal_brooky
6. Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
“Stanley Park is home to an abundance of old growth trees, marine life, and golden fall foliage. Located on the tip of a peninsula in the middle of Vancouver, BC, it’s surprising how immersed in nature you can be on a trail and still be close enough to civilization to be able to grab a warm beverage from a cafe after your morning walk or hike. There is no wrong trail in Stanley Park, and with a variety of terrain and lengths you can go for a stroll, a day hike, or a trail run to get your fall color fix!”
—Laura Hughes, writer, photographer, and outdoors-expert, @howsheviewsit
7. Heather Meadows Maple Loop Pass, North Cascades, Washington
“Deep in the heart of the North Cascades in Washington lies Heather Meadows Maple Loop Pass. This stunning loop hike climbs and winds along a ridge line between the craggy peaks of the cascades. With changing colors and yellow larches surrounding, this hike is well worth the long drive from Seattle.”
—Sam Ortiz, photographer and plus-size Hispanic mountaineer, @samortizphoto
8. La Sal Mountains, Moab, Utah
“Here there is an abundance of colors in the mountains, and you can easily access two great national parks with just a short drive. Though there’s not a lot of foliage, the fall skies are breathtaking and the rock colors are more vibrant in Moab.”
—Alex Keeling, wanderer and photographer, @alexandra_abroad
9. Shawangunk Ridge, New York
“A quick hour-and-a-half drive from New York city is Shawangunk Ridge, (or The Gunks for short). They’re best known for their spectacular rock climbing, but they also have great hiking paths that lead to the top and offer unparalleled views of fall foliage.”
—Priya Mareedu, model and adventurer, @priya_mareedu
10. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
“In October 2016, I was hiking in Acadia National Park on the southeastern Maine coast—what should be the epitome of fall foliage—and jealous of all my friends in Colorado with selfies of popping yellow aspen trees.
So the following year, as part of my 3-year, nonstop road trip to all 417 National Park Service sites, I made sure I was in Colorado as it changed colors. Hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park’s lesser-known (and less crowded!) Wild Basin Trailhead, I finally got to see the rich, golden yellow aspens I’d been lusting at a year earlier. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park in early or mid-September to experience the changing colors at higher elevations, then stay around toward the end of the month as the colder weather transforms the trees at lower altitude. It’s also prime time to see the elk herds residing near Estes Park.”
—Mikah Meyer, road trip and national parks expert, @mikahmey
|Read on: The 15 Best Places to Go Hiking in the Fall|