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Jill Sanford | 09.06.2017

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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