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15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage

09.22.17

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15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
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  • Moonrise above the South Fork Mineral Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Yellow leaves swirl in eddy currents in South Fork Mineral Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • South Fork Mineral Creek. - 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall colors at the end of the day near the summit of Observation Peak via Stanley Lake Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall colors decorate the headwaters of Stanley Lake Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall colors at Lake Sabrina.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Lake Sabrina.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Approaching the Inlet on Lake Sabrina.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Lower Kentucky Falls adorned with colorful leaves.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • North Fork Smith River on the Kentucky Falls Hike.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Morning light on Mount Jefferson from Park Ridge to the north.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall foliage surrounds Shitke Lake on the Jefferson Park Hike Park Ridge.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Bays Lake on the Jefferson Park Hike.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • A view of Lake Shaftsbury and one of the trail bridges from the beach in autumn.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Early morning at the beach.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • You can rent paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks until Columbus Day Weekend at Woodford State Park.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Woodford State Park.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall foliage and fallen trees along Cascade Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Cascade Creek.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall foliage from the McArthur-Burney Memorial State Park.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Colors changing below Burney falls.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • The "lower" Upper Enchantment area. Looking at Little Annapurna on the left and Dragontail Peak to the right.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Enchantment Lakes Thru Hike.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • The view of Inspiration Lake and Prusik Peak while descending down into the Lower Enchantments.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Small pool of water in the Upper Enchantment area.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • River winding along the Marvine Lake Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Golden aspen leaves along the Marvine Lake Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • The Marvine Lake Trail is singletrack for much of the way.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • The Marvine Lake Trail boasts many colors.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Beautiful open views on an early section of Marvine Lake Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Beautiful fall colors on the Lake Mary Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Beautiful fall colors on the Lake Mary Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Fall colors in the meadow on Blue Lake Trail.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Blue Lake in the fall.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Woods Canyon Lake.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Forested area surrounds Woods Canyon Lake.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Gazing out across the color-dappled ridgeline from the tower.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Panorama of the Smoky Mountains, looking out over Happy Valley and past Cades Cove to Gregory Bald.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Oberg Lake.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
  • Lake Superior from atop Oberg Mountain.- 15 Perfect Day Hikes to Find Fall Foliage
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Contributor

The days are getting shorter, we’re throwing more layers in our pack for those chilly summits or evening outings, and the colors are starting to turn. As amazing as summer is, we’re ready for a change of pace by the time autumn rolls around.

Autumn offers milder temperatures and fewer crowds in all our favorite places throughout the country. Best of all, however, is the fall foliage when green leaves slowly fade to lemon hues, shades of orange, crimson tones and even rich maroons and purples.

Even though we all learned about chlorophyll and deciduous trees back in elementary school, don’t take those fall colors for granted. When you see fall foliage on your next hike, remember that these trees are preparing for winter. As days shorten and temperatures cool, the chlorophyll responsible for their green color (and their nutrients) breaks down. Other pigments emerge and the result is often more impressive than the showiest fireworks display.

Inspiration Lake and Prusik Peak. Photo by Michael Sawiel

If you are a fall fanatic, we have some good news for you. There’s plenty of places throughout the country where you can absorb the richest colors of fall. Here are 15 of our favorite hikes that offer an incredible amount of autumn foliage - and make sure to check out the photo gallery for more stunning foliage shots to get your hiking-legs tingling!

  1. Oberg Mountain, Lake Superior North Shore, Minnesota
  2. Look Rock, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
  3. Woods Canyon Lake, Central Arizona, Arizona
  4. Blue Lake Hike, North Cascades, Washington
  5. Catherines Pass Trail, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah
  6. Marvine Lake Trail, Flat Tops and White River Plateau, Colorado
  7. Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
  8. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, Mount Shasta and Medicine Lake Area, California
  9. Cascade Creek Trail, San Juan Mountains, Colorado
  10. Woodford State Park, Southern Green Mountains, Vermont
  11. Lake Shaftsbury State Park, Southern Green Mountains, Vermont
  12. South Fork Mineral Creek, San Juan Mountains, Colorado
  13. Kentucky Falls Hike, Siuslaw National Forest, Central Oregon Coast, Oregon
  14. Stanley Lake Creek, Observation Peak and Divide, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho
  15. Lake Sabrina, Eastern Sierra, California
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