The fall is the best time of the year for hiking because the weather is cool enough and the colors are bright, stunning, and most importantly, diverse. Putting on your boots and heading out to explore expansive and inspiring landscapes with spectacular panoramas is a must-do family activity. You won’ regret going by yourself either. Spending time in the wilderness is one of the best ways to cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem, according to science. If the scenery is at least half of the reason you go hiking, the places on the following list are worth your time and effort.
The Old Rag route is widely considered a classic hike and is known for attracting crowds of climbers, especially in the summer. Aptly named for its rugged terrain strewn with boulder fields and bare rocks, the trail is 8 miles round-trip that has it all – panoramic views of dramatic fall colors and a tough rock scramble, making it one of the most popular routes in the mid-Atlantic.
Rather than tackling the entire 2,200 miles of this National Scenic Trail, you can opt for a small but spectacular section within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited in the country. Drive to the parking area at Newfound Gap and take the Appalachian Trail to Indian Gap. The 3.4-mile roundtrip will give you a taste of this historic route and allow you to see beautiful fall foliage. The best time to see the changing leaves is typically from mid-October to early November.
October is the best time to do this moderate hike in northwestern Vermont. The steep, 2.8-mile-long trail will deliver you to a bald summit with views of the Green Mountains – including the famed Camel's Hump and Mt. Mansfield – and the Worchester Range to the west, as well as Hogback Mountain to the southeast.
Devil's Lake State Park is one of nine Ice Age National Scientific Reserve units. On the scenic trail, you can find incredible glacial features and breathtaking views that highlight some the best fall colors in the Midwest. While the entire loop is 13.7 miles, you can also take the 4.5-mile Sauk Point Trail or 1.8-mile Roznos Meadow Trail.
The eight-mile Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park will take you past a series of gorgeous cascades accented with the vibrant oranges, reds and yellows of fall. Day-use permits are required year-round and can be purchased at the park entrance booth. The hike is about 9 miles long. The elevation gain is about 1,300 feet and the difficulty level is moderate.
While the total length of this path is 10.2 miles, four parking lots along the trail let you choose the distance you'll hike and the scenery you'll see. Depending on the section you choose, you might pass under the Big Run Archway—a landmark built by Italian stonemasons in the 1880s—or the 35-foot Douglas Falls.
Although the hike is only about 3 miles long, it’s widely considered one of the most difficult in the area. Views of changing leaves, the Hudson River and Storm King Mountain make this strenuous hike well worth the effort. Go during the week to avoid crowds and spend some time at the top taking in the view before you make your way back down the steep trail.
The most popular hike in Acadia is well liked for good reason. A short 2.2 miles on the North Ridge Trail puts hikers at the top of Cadillac Mountain. Take in views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay from the 1,530-foot-high peak and be among the first to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic. On a clear day, it’s possible to see more than 100 miles.
The Fiery Gizzard Trail is located on The Cumberland Plateau, the largest remaining forested plateau in the U.S (21,649 acres). The 12.5-mile trail gives you plenty of bang for your buck. Along the relatively flat path, you still pass by many natural features such as cascading streams, waterfalls, panoramic overlooks, rocky gorges and lush woodlands.
Greenleaf Trail is a 6.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Franconia that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate, according to All Trails. The trail is less crowded than many other in the state. The hike is enjoyable, but it gets a little tough as you go up. It’s mostly just climbing upward, even though it doesn’t feel like that right away.
You’ll be surrounded by breathtaking and lush fall foliage for about 30 miles. Hiking along the trail feels like you are in your own serene and quite diverse world. Hike through the arboretum where twists and turns run through the trees. Eventually you will climb gradually to Pittock Mansion, where there is a great view of Portland, according to The Outbound.
Arkansas isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you consider top-notch backpacking destinations, but the Ozarks definitely deserve some top-ten list credit for long treks like this 14-miler (turning back at Cherry Bend) through lush, dogwood-studded forests with quiet trailside camping. Prepare for moderate climbs and a gorgeous view from the top of White Rock Mountain.
This gnarly trail is quintessentially New England. It covers 270 miles and is known as Vermont’s “footpath in the wilderness.” Built between 1910 and 1930, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country, according to Green Mountain Club. The trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border as it crosses Vermont’s highest peaks.