The autumn is the time of year when our favorite hikes become even more breathtaking—alight with the vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of fall.
In other seasons, leaves appear green, due to chlorophyll (the pigment that allows them to capture sunlight and produce nutrients), however the arrival of cooler temperatures and shorter days signals the tree to stop producing it. This is when—to our delight—the other colors in the leaves begin to show.
While there are many great places to soak up the amazing sights of autumn, we've selected a few great hikes around the country (as well as one we couldn't resist abroad) where you can fully immerse yourself in the fall season. On these trails, you have the chance to enjoy not just magnificent colors, but also majestic waterfalls, views of surrounding mountains and towns, alpine lakes and the refreshing smell of damp earth.
Before you head out, it's worthwhile to note that you can predict the intensity of fall colors based on the weather. While low temperatures above freezing and rainy or overcast days can amplify them, early frost will dampen the shades. In addition, a little research on the types of trees can also help you predict what you'll see. The Arbor Day Foundation provides a list of tree species and their hues. For instance, the bald cypress is known to turn orange-red in the fall, while the black tupelo will show many colors including yellow, orange, bright red, purple and scarlet.
By the end of this slideshow, you’ll be ready to don your hiking boots and set off to see some of the most vibrant autumn colors Mother Nature has to offer.