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.
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!