7 Most Stunning Fall Hikes in America
Autumn is the most spectacularly colorful season of the year, and taking a hike through America’s sprawling wilderness is by far the best way to take in these gorgeous hues. There are thousands of stunning trails stretching from coast to coast of the continental U.S., each displaying its own distinct, lush character each fall to the never-ending delight of foliage seekers young and old.
Here are 7 of the most incredible hikes and trails for enjoying the colors of autumn in the U.S.
Willamette National Forest (Oregon)
Indulge in the views of dazzling Willamette National Forest by carving a path on its famously secluded Fall Creek National Recreational Trail. The path offers hikers a resplendent journey through the leafy light shows provided by Oregon’s hemlocks, cedars, maples, dogwoods, and more. The trail follows a babbling stream for about 14 miles, but hikers of any skill level can enjoy a quick, leisurely saunter through its most scenic legs, says Great Outdoor Recreation Pages.
Grayson Highlands State Park (Virginia)
CNN points foliage seekers to Virginia’s 5,000-acre Grayson Highlands State Park, recommending, in particular, a hiker-friendly 3-mile trail up to Rhododendron Gap. This section links to the Appalachian Trail, offering additional sweeping views of the rainbow-hued trees — birches, maples, beeches, oaks, and spruces, especially — that pepper the park’s lush mountainsides. Visitors of all ages will appreciate the company of wild (and friendly) ponies along the central trails. Visit the Grayson Highlands State Park website for additional information.
Coconino State Park (Arizona)
Visions of lush foliage may not jump to mind for many of us when we think of Arizona, but this state is also home to some of the most exquisite fall scenery in the country. Trails in Arizona’s high-elevation Coconino National Forest are particularly rewarding when viewed by hikers on the park’s many miles of trails.
Great Outdoor Recreation Pages recommends that hikers in Coconino enjoy trails such as Kachina Peaks Wilderness and the Weatherford Trail, which offer unparalleled views of the ponderosa pines and aspens dotting nearby ridges. Stunning golds and amber hues transform the hillsides in early autumn; gradually, these colors give way to the brilliant crimson-fuchsia sumacs and maples in later fall.
Stowe Pinnacle Trail (Vermont)
Stowe, a Vermont resort town renowned for its scenic peaks, untouched beauty, and ski attractions, offers incomparable autumnal views, most notably on its nearby Pinnacle Trail. USA Today recommends that visitors take a moderate-level hike up the 2.8-mile trail. It’s a somewhat steep climb, culminating in rewarding views of fall scenery — particularly the red and sugar maples — on the nearby Green Mountains, Hogback Mountain to the southeast, and the Worcester Mountain Range to the west.
Babcock State Park (West Virginia)
Leaf lovers need to look no further than West Virginia’s majestic Skyline Trail, rated by USA Today as one of the nation’s most dazzling fall foliage hikes. Winding through Babcock State Park’s sprawling 4,127 acres, the 4-mile roundtrip trail offers a relatively simple trek through some of the mid-Atlantic’s greatest foliage. Babcock’s paths weave through scenic Manns Creek Gorge, as well as past brooks, diverse wildlife, and a quaint, still-functioning gristmill. Check out the Babcock State Park website for further information.
Jesup Trail, Acadia National Park (Maine)
Acadia is one of New England’s most beloved national parks. Each fall, the area ushers in majestic ribbons of color along its ridged landscape — included among these are birches, beeches, maple, oaks, and white ashes. For an easy jaunt through some of Maine’s finest natural artwork, National Parks Traveler recommends visiting Jesup Trail, a 2-mile roundtrip path showcasing flecks of gold, red, and hemlock green. For a longer walk through the park, try 3.6-mile North Bubble Trail, which offers breathtaking views of nearby Cadillac Mountain and Eagle Lake. Visit Acadia National Park’s website for more leaf-peeping information.
May Lake, Yosemite National Park (California)
Located in Yosemite National Park, a beautiful destination to visit at any time of year, May Lake’s trails are a definite must-see during peak foliage season, writes USA Today. Witness the brilliant dogwood and maple reds, the aspen and oak yellows, and the poison oak crimsons and purples on this family friendly 1.3-mile. Here, you will see the best of the sparkling waters and craggy peaks upon which Yosemite prides itself. There are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the fall scenery in Yosemite National Park, so be sure to check out its website for additional trail recommendations.