Fall Foliage Walks

Introduction
  |  Gorp.com
Finding Foliage Finery

The quality of fall foliage varies from year to year, due to such factors as rainfall and the date and severity of the first cold snap. But even if the locals are swearing it's a "bad color year," don't take it to heart—chances are you'll be overwhelmed, especially if you take our advice and head into the forests, where the sunlight glinting on individual leaves brings out a wealth of color.

The timing of the foliage also depends on the weather (although peak foliage at a given location doesn't tend to vary more than a week or so from year to year). At the higher elevations, and in northern latitudes, foliage turns early—you'll start seeing the first signs when ferns turn gold in August in Maine's high country. Lower down and farther south, the foliage lasts through November.

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Fall's here, and for many of us, that means that it's the best hiking season of all.

The temperatures are cooler and more comfortable for walking. The bugs are all but gone. And could there be anything more beautiful than a forest shimmering orange and gold?

Sure, you could spend your autumn weekends at home treading the same old paths. But with a little planning, you might be able to combine a weekend getaway with a fabulous walking destination. Now's the time to pick a place—and pencil it in.

You've got plenty of flexibility when planning your autumn adventure. In the high country and northern climes, the leaves start to turn in late August and early September. If you can't get away that soon, not to worry: At lower elevations and farther south, the foliage lasts through November. So as summer ticks away, consider these seven destinations—or come up with one of your own.

Our recommended hikes range from oceanside to mountainside, from relaxing rambles to strenuous hikes to one bona fide wilderness walk. What they have in common: Stunning natural beauty. Plenty of color. And a guarantee that stretching your legs also means relaxing your mind and feasting your eyes.


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