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Favorite Fall Hikes, Part 2

Coming soon: some of the most spectacular hiking of the year. Are you ready?

Aspen grove in fallEarlier this month, we shared some of REI staff's favorite early-season fall hikes. These trails with the earliest-to-turn fall color were mostly in high-elevation areas of the West and Alaska. Now that fall officially arrives next week (on Sept. 23 at 5:05am Eastern, to be exact), let's check back in with our staff for their additional "seasoned" trail picks.

Want to see aspens without the crowds? Hike the Ben Tyler Gulch Trail near Shawnee. Robb from the REI Boulder store raves that the trail is highlighted by "an entire valley" of these gorgeous trees plus the trail eventually opens up to great views all the way to South Park. The trail is close to Denver on Hwy. 285 yet not heavily used, in part because you'll gain over 3,000 feet on this 10-mile round-tripper.

Further north, the family-friendly Hewitt Gulch Trail in Poudre Canyon offers a pleasing mix of colorful trees and multiple stream crossings, a rarity in semi-arid Colorado. "Bring your Keens, Chacos or other sandals," says James from the REI Fort Collins store, who takes along his 1-year-old daughter on this hike. If you choose to do the full 3.7-mile loop, counter-clockwise is the more enjoyable route, per James.

From the natural water slide at the start to the waterfall at the end, the 3-mile out-and-back Meadow Run Trail at Ohiopyle State Park near the West Virginia and Maryland borders is a beauty. Peter from the REI Pittsburgh store loves hiking the trail, but as a former river guide, he also recommends a raft trip down the Youghigheny River (with placid class I-II sections or more adventurous class III-IV options) for a unique fall foliage spectacle.

Fall Foliage Map

Fall foliage map of the U.S.

Parker Woodlands near Coventry offers 860 acres of majestic old forest, brooks, fields and a series of interesting rock cairns of mysterious origin. John from the REI Cranston store especially appreciates "viewing deer, fox, turkey and a spectrum of finches from nearly every turn of its winding trails and boardwalks." His insider tip: "Allow extra time to sit and listen to the solitude."

Mountain goat near Emerald Lake, UtahIf you'd like a good chance to glimpse moose and mountain goats along with alpine scenery and fall color, try Emerald Lake in the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness Area. Daniel from the REI Salt Lake City store says it's a sturdy hike from either the Aspen Grove (11.7 miles round-trip) or Timpanooke (9.9 miles round-trip) trailheads, but well worth the effort. His insider tip: "Weekdays or early weekend mornings will help you beat the crowds."

The Yellow Aster Butte Trail off Hwy. 542 in the North Cascades is exceptionally scenic year-round, but Pat from the REI Bellingham store says fall is the best time to hike it. "The black flies are gone," he notes, "and the crowds thin to the point of solitude." Rewards of the moderately challenging 7.5-mile round-trip hike include jaw-dropping views of Baker, Shuksan, Tomyhoi and other classic Cascade peaks. Don't wait too long though, as snow is possible in September and common by October.

What are your favorite trails to hike during the fall?

Below: Fall colors and stream at Parker Woodlands, Rhode Island.

Posted on at 9:33 PM

Tagged: Autumn, Fall, Hiking and backpacking

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Being a full time RV'er gives me an appreciation of the many beautiful places in the U.S. to enjoy. Great pictures and post.
Howard Hicks

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What about California????
Rock Creek, McGee Creek, Dunderberg Meadows, Little Walker River, West Walker!!!!????


I agree that California is one huge great hike. Barring some urban areas, the entire state offers awesome outdoors activities and it should be on the list.


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