With fall staring us straight in the face, we wanted to highlight some of the best places in the country to hike and really experience the natural beauty of fall colors. Obviously, no list of this kind is ever complete but the following are our favorite 7 hiking destinations:
1.Willamette National Forest, Oregon
The Willamette National Forest is approximately 1700 miles of trails varying from easy-access to full-on wilderness. Hikers can appreciate the red cedars and Douglas-firs all year long at Willamette National Forest. But it is autumn that is the perfect time to appreciate the huckleberry bushes turning red and sprouting berries, as you explore various trailheads and hot springs along the way.
2.Zion National Park, Utah
Although other parks may have glaciers and meadows to look at, Zion has something more unique to Utah: its red-rock walls and sandstone canyons. And by climbing to the top of Angels Landing, you’ll have the best view of it. Even before you get to Angels Landing it is one of the most photogenic hikes you will ever take. From November to May, some of the park’s highest elevations stay covered in snow (referred to as “Little Siberia”). It can be a challenging day hike but since so few people seem to know about it, you can enjoy the splendor of Utah in relative solitude.
3.Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Following the Wonderland Trail will give you all of the best that this park has to offer: the jewel-toned wildflowers, glaciers, snow-peaked mountaintops, and fields of broken rock from the volcano. You’ll see elk, deer, and mountain goats grazing as you both enjoy the trail’s maintenance. The Wonderland Trail is perfect for breaking the 93-mile loop into manageable sections, although few of its miles are flat – expect steep climbs both up and down in addition to the spectacular view.
4.Kettle Moraine State Forest, Wisconsin
Kettle Moraine is named for and characterized by its glacial features, such as the peat-filled bogs. The Ice Age Trail is 30 miles long, a smaller part of the 1000-mile long Ice Age National Scenic Trail. On your hike you’ll pass through grassland, forest, and pine-tree farms. Most of the trail is prairie land, which makes it ideal for hiking at sunset or even by moonlight. The various kettles mark where glaciers were calved; a bit of history preserved before you.
5.Glacier National Park, Montana
This national park is made up of over 1,000,000 acres and has every kind of terrain from prairie to alpine tundra. While hiking, you may see anything from a moose to a mountain goat, or even one of the park’s threatened species, like a grizzly bear. You can hike from north to south on the 110 mile-long Continental Divide Trail, or from east to west on the Pacific Northwest Trail, which is just over 50 miles.
6.Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Located in Northwest Wyoming, this national park sees about 2.5 million visitors annually because of its grand ranges. The park’s 200 miles of trail include The Teton Crest Trail, which was voted one of the 20 Best Hikes in the National Parks by Robert Earle Howells in National Geographic. With great, up-close views of the Teton Range, various lakes and user-friendly trails and campsites, you’ll be amazed long before you even get to the park’s glaciers.
7.Acadia National Park, Maine
Most people hike to see the beauty of land still untouched by man, such as Acadia’s mountain ranges and spruce-fir forests. However Acadia is full of enough cliffs that even experienced hikers can benefit from the man-made stairs and strategically-placed iron rungs. The Mountain Carriage Loop makes for a more family-friendly trail. Its easy-walking and availability to cyclists means that anyone can enjoy the lakes, and ocean view.