17 Stellar Fall Hikes for Watching the Leaves Change from Hikes for Festive Fall Colors

Hikes for Festive Fall Colors

17 Stellar Fall Hikes for Watching the Leaves Change

Flickr/brentdanley

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.

Flickr/Staceymk11

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.
—Diana Gerstacker

The Rockwall Trail—Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

Flickr/Marc Shandro

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

Golden Eagle Trail—Tiadaghton State Forest, Pa.

Flickr/Nicholas T

Some have said the Golden Eagle Trail is the best day hike in all of Pennsylvania and frankly it’s tough to disagree. This challenging nine mile loop gives hikers a look at some of the most stunning peak views, cascading waterfalls and old quarries. Now imagine all of that drenched in gorgeous fall colors.
—Diana Gerstacker

Marcy Dam, Adirondacks—North Elba, N.Y.

Flickr/Robbie's Photo Art

This popular hiking and camping destination sits at 2,362 feet, just 3.5 miles from the highest point in New York—Mount Marcy. Though the actual dam was badly damaged during Hurricane Irene, it remains a popular point with a gorgeous view.
Diana Gerstacker

Eagle and Symphony Lakes—Chugach State Park, Alaska

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The South Fork Valley Trail in Chugach State Park will take you on a 9.6-mile roundtrip adventure with outstanding views of surrounding peaks. With just 1,700 feet of elevation gain, this is an easy hike that ends at Eagle and Symphony Lakes—excellent spots for catching wild rainbow trout and Alaska northern pike.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Ute Trail—Aspen, Colo.

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This "mile-long aerobic workout" takes you up 1,165 feet via switchbacks to a summit with amazing views of the city of Aspen. Ambitious hikers can go another 2,300 vertical feet to the summit of Ajax Mountain. 
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Blackwater Canyon Trail—Blackwater Canyon, W. Va.

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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.
—Megan Taylor Morrison


Huckaby Trail—Coconino National Forest, Ariz.

USDA Forest Service, Coconino National Forest

The Huckaby Trail, only 2.6 miles long, is a local favorite on fall days. Just a short trip from Sedona and you’ll find this moderate rated trail, which spikes up to 4,465 at Schnebley Hill, making it perfect for a half day adventure.
—Diana Gerstacker

Skyline Trail—Babcock State Park, W. Va.

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Beginning at Manns Creek Picnic Area, this flat, four-mile out-and-back trip will take approximately two hours. This is just one great hike in a 4,127-acre park with 20 miles of trails (click here for a trail map). The many paths can take you through Manns Creek Gorge, as well as past streams and a working gristmill.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Enchantment Lakes—Cascade Mountains, Washington

Flickr/Jeff Pang

The traditional path to Enchantment Lakes is trail 1553. It starts at the Snow Lakes trailhead about four miles outside of Leavenworth, Washington, and will take you on a grueling 10-mile hike with 6,000 feet of elevation gain. For this reason, many people choose to take two cars and park one at each end of the trail. You can also camp overnight and awake to the sight of an alpine lake and gorgeous yellow autumn leaves on the surrounding larch trees. 
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Appalachian Trail—Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Flickr/JoeyBLS Photography

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. 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. 
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Sherman Peak—Bear River Range, Idaho

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At 9,682 feet, Sherman Peak is the highest mountain in this region and therefore provides the best view of fall colors in the area. It can be accessed via the Bear River Range Highline Trail from the parking area near the trailhead off Eightmile Creek Road. In total, it's  a 3.5-mile hike to the summit.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Trail of Ten Falls—Silver Falls State Park, Ore.

Flickr/ian sane

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.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

The Stowe Pinnacle Trail—Stowe, Vt.

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The first week of 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.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Ice Age National Scenic Trail—Devil's Lake State Park, Wis.

Shelley Laband

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 autumn colors in the Midwest. While the entire loopis 13.7 miles, you can also take the 4.5-mile Sauk Point Trail or 1.8-mile Roznos Meadow Trail.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

May Lake—Yosemite National Park, Calif.

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This family-friendly hike starts at the Snow Flat trailhead and covers 1.3 miles. Because it's a relatively easy jaunt, you can expect not just the beautiful granite peaks and sparkling blue waters of Yosemite, but also the crowds. Still, the view of May Lake below 10,000-foot Mount Hoffman makes this popular hike worth the (short) trek.
—Megan Taylor Morrison

Hoenderloo Forest Walk—Hoge Veluwe National Park, Netherlands

Flickr/Mendhak

We know, we know—this isn't exactly a trip you can do over the weekend. However, our shout-out to Hoge Veluwe National Park is a reminder that there are incredible locations across the world to see beautiful foliage. If you find yourself in the Netherlands in the fall, try the forest walk starting at the Hoenderloo entrance. In total, this trail is approximately 11 miles long, but from September 1-30 (the mating season for deer in the park) visitors are only allowed to walk about 8.5 miles of the trail. 
—Megan Taylor Morrison