You are here

Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.
Stephanie Keene | 09.03.2019

What does a year of new adventures look like? And how might those adventures change throughout the months and seasons in a calendar year? With our 12 Months of Adventure content series, we'll be diving into exactly that.

For each month throughout 2019, we'll be highlighting a different outdoor activity/focus and inviting you to follow along and take on a new adventure (or 12). Tapping the expertise of our knowledgeable Contributors, we'll be providing educational resources, how-to tips, and trip ideas and excursions—so you can get out and start racking up adventure time, pronto.


September hiking at Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park. Stephanie Keene.


12 Months of Adventure: September - Hiking + Backpacking

August: Mountain Biking | October: Wildlife


Ah, September. Days shorten, nights cool, and mosquitoes wane. Mornings are brisk, and evenings chance snow at high elevations—but the days in between are colorful, crisp, and captivating. Saffron-hued aspens help color the Rocky Mountain West, while the hardwood trees from Missouri to Maine create full palettes of color for weeks.

In the mountain west, September usually marks the first frost (putting those pesky mosquitoes down for good) and the first snow, extinguishing the wildfires of August. The snow hazards from the winter prior have all melted, and the sun never seems as intense and hazy as it did in July and August. For these reasons, early September is a great time to go after that last peak on your summer list.

The cooler temperatures of fall also make for excellent backpacking weather. Hauling your gear over hills or mountains to your campsite definitely feels less exhausting when you are no longer in the stagnant August heat. When you finally reach and make camp, you’ll find the stars coming out earlier than ever and a nightly breeze rushing to meet you. A warm campfire (or a luxury hot cocoa) is just the outdoor remedy to keep the chill of fall nights at bay, at least until you return to your cozy sleeping bag.

With the imminent start of fall, trail traffic tapers off as families, students, and summer vacationers prepare and settle into their autumn routines. Visitation to national parks generally drops from August to September, giving you greater chances of hiking without the crowds or snagging a popular backcountry site (yes, you totally could have a Glacier National Park backcountry site all to yourself). Visitation rates to local state parks and recreation areas also begins to drop by September. Find that perfect trail in the Catskills or venture over to the Rockies for those picturesque golden aspen groves.

All hikes are more interesting in September. Elk bugle and gather harems, wolves howl at big moons, and antelope bucks prepare for battle. Everyone seems to be trying to finish things up before colder weather sets in, and the anticipation is palpable. It makes you want to get outside and savor those last few days of summer.

Whether you have hiked one trail or 50, what are you waiting for? Find guidance and inspiration for your perfect September hiking or backpacking trip below!

How Tos + Gear

Adventure Recommendations

We hope you get inspired by 12 Months of Adventure and are able to take on some new adventures this year. Don't forget to let us know about your spring photo adventures by tagging your photos #12MonthsofAdventure ​​​​​​on Instagram and by adding a comment/photos in the comments section below. Happy trails!

The 12 Months of Adventure:

From mountaineering to outdoor photography, from paddling pastimes to environmental stewardship, 12 Months of Adventure aims to cover a breadth of interests that connects everyone in a deeper way with the outdoors. Follow along each month with a new 12 Months of Adventure focus:


Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.