It’s that time of year when the sweltering summer heat is cooling down, and the crisp autumn breeze is rolling in. With a breathtaking transformation, the leaves in the forest turn into a vibrant tapestry of yellows, oranges and reds. It’s the perfect season to enjoy a picturesque backdrop as you embark on hikes through the fall trees. Dress up in your hiking boots and favorite hiking accessories as we discover the nine best hikes for fall foliage.
- Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont— As you explore all the sights that Green Mountain has to offer, look and feel your best by wearing workout accessories. Take that idyllic fall hike as you enjoy a symphony of colors and unparalleled natural beauty. You’ll be covered by the forest’s dense canopy with a picturesque landscape of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. Experience a diverse range of leisurely strolls and challenging ascents. Feel the rustling leaves and listen to the birds overhead for a complete sensory experience. There’s nothing quite like the stunning fall foliage of Vermont.
- Acadia National Park, Maine— Visit the rugged coastline and pristine lakes of Acadia National Park. Along the way, you’ll find a diverse landscape filled with rich, autumnal hues and a breathtaking panorama. Acadia National Park offers well-maintained trails for all skill levels. Explore gentle paths and challenging peaks on Cadillac Mountain. Enjoy the tranquil ambiance and crisp, cool air for an enchanting Maine hike.
- White Mountains, New Hampshire— If you love Vermont and Maine hikes, you’re sure to love the lush forest of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Immerse yourself in the vibrant foliage as you go through leisure strolls along cascading waterfalls. Take on a challenging ascent on Mount Washington. Take photos of your enchanting and photogenic adventure once you reach the top of the summit.
- Great Northern Catskills, New York — The New York Catskill Mountains are famed for their diverse hiking and mountain biking trails. Enjoy cascading waterfalls and scenic vistas — not to mention some of the best fall foliage anywhere in the country. Try rock climbing or paddling. Begin your new adventure with swimming or fishing. For anyone who loves the great outdoors, the Catskills are awaiting you.
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia— With over 199,000 acres, it comes as no surprise that Shenandoah National Park sees over a million visitors each year. Nature is calling you and welcoming you to this national park just 75 miles outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. Walk through wildflower fields or visit quiet wooded hollows. There are over 200,000 acres of protected land. There’s plenty to explore in Shenandoah.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina — There’s a wonderful diversity of fauna and flora in the forest that straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park features diverse animal and plant life and beautiful ancient mountains. You can choose from 10 frontcountry campgrounds or head into the backcountry. Camp under the stars, feel the cool spray of a waterfall and explore a historic mill.
- Ozark National Forest, Arkansas— You may have heard of Ozark from the titular Netflix show, but did you know that the actual forest offers a tapestry just as rich as the fictional characters? This is one of America’s most picturesque areas, with over 65,800 acres of undisturbed beauty. Enjoy year-round recreational opportunities from hunting to horseback riding. There’s an adventure around every bend. Camp along the river, lake or one of their designated mountain camping areas.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio — While Cuyahoga Valley National Park is actually just a short distance away from urban Akron and Cleveland, you’ll feel like you’re worlds away. It’s a refuge for wildlife and native plants. Enjoy the winding Cuyahoga River as you trek through deep forests and rolling hills. Ride the Towpath Trail and follow the historic route of the Ohio and Erie Canal.
- Aspen, Colorado— Aspen isn’t just for skiing. Some of the best hikes in the Aspen area include the Smuggler Mountain Trail, a moderate 3.0-mile round trip to the Smuggler Mountain overlook, and the more difficult Ute Trail with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet and 2.4 miles round trip. For anyone looking for a picturesque trail in Aspen that’s more off the beaten path, try the Capitol Creek Trail, which requires 4-wheel drive to access the trailhead off Highway 82. You’ll find a beautiful forest full of aspen and evergreens and a gorgeous view of Capitol Peak.
No matter which trail you end up choosing, any of these hikes are sure to give you an unforgettable autumn experience. There’s no better way to experience the beauty of nature than during a fall hike as you take in the painted red, orange and gold landscape. From climbing the mountainside while wearing functional jewelry to venturing into the heart of the forest and taking that quintessential hiking selfie, the tranquility of a fall hike will become a treasured memory you take with you into every season to come.