Somewhere along the line it was decided that summer was the best time for hiking. We love a good summer hike—who doesn’t—but we aren’t ready to call the contest. Fall hikes are the underrated alternative, until now a close runner up, but they deserve more recognition.
Fall hikes are more temperate—which means, come noon, you won’t feel like you’re in the middle of the Sahara. The trails are less crowded in the fall and of course, who can discount those stunning colors of the changing leaves.
Most of us will admit that the scenery is at least half of the reason we go hiking in the first place and there’s no better time to take it all in than autumn. We rounded up hikes from across the U.S. and Canada (and even included a particularly beautiful hike in the Netherlands) so you can make the most of the best hiking season of the year wherever you are.
Pittock Mansion Hike—Portland, Ore.
A five minute ride from downtown Portland will put you at the base of this exceptional 5-mile trail. Start at the Lower Maclaey Park Trailhead and wind your way through thick forest, past a creek and finish on the site of a Victorian-era mansion with a stellar overlook of the city of Portland.
The Rockwall Trail—Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
If you're looking for a challenging, multiday trek with incredible fall colors, check out the world-renowned Rockwall Trail. Stretching about 35 miles, the path will take you along towering limestone cliffs, as well as through alpine meadows and larch forests. You'll also pass 1,154-foot Helmet Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the Canadian Rockies.
—Megan Taylor Morrison
Editor’s Note: additional reporting by Megan Taylor Morrison.