I am familiar with the ‘leaf peepers’ that flock to New England during a short 3-weeks in the Fall, spanning from about mid-September to the second weekend of October. These tourists usually check out the flora from behind the windows of their tour bus off of the side of route 89.
If you’re looking for a different way to enjoy the Autumn weather and views, try a trip to the west coast for gorgeous hikes in Washington State, or head to central Maine to hike Katahdin, the tallest peak in the east. Here’s my list of top spots in the US to hike in the Fall.
Baxter State Park – MAINE
Dare I say it – but watch out for bears! Maine has a thriving black bear population, and they’ll be foraging fall berries for winter. They’re usually very afraid of humans, but may be more active at this time of the year. Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine, is an incredibly beautiful hike for more experiences hikers. The Knife’s Edge path will give you a panoramic view of the entire park and surrounding range.
The Long Trail – VERMONT
It’s the perfect time to try The Long Trail because it’s a special year – The Long Trail turns 100! The Green Mountains draw hikers from all over, but Vermonters, being an outdoorsy breed, are the regulars on the trails. The hardwoods like Red and Sugar Maple trees turn the hills ablaze with reds and yellows. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a warm Indian Summer. There are many moose sightings!
Olympic National Park – WASHINGTON
Olympic National Park is truly wild. The Pacific Ocean meets the glacially formed mountain range on the Olympic Peninsula in northern Washington. The trees are towering, creeks splashing and alpine meadows changing fiery colors. One of the most popular and scenic spots is the hike to Royal Lake, which is ringed by two huge mountains.
Shenandoah National Park – VIRGINIA
You might not think to visit the southern US for foliage viewing, but the Blue Ridge Mountains offer their own display (plus, wine tasting isn’t far away.) There’s plenty of color, from ferns,to sassafras and dogwood trees. There are also many biking trails for novices and experts alike. Shenandoah National Park is only a 90-minute drive from Washington, D.C., so if you’re visiting the capital and itching to get out, it’s easy to spend a day soaking-up some nature.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - TENNESSEE and NORTH CAROLINA
The Great Smoky Mountains span parts of both North Carolina and Tennessee. You can find and hike part of the Appalachian Trail, and might even meet some hikers about to finish up their 2,179 mile trip! Beware of washouts and high water at this time of year. It’s a 12-mile hike (round-trip), but there is a beautiful viewing tower atop Mt. Cammerer.
Have any other favorite hiking spots? Share!