Fall is one of the most amazing times of the year to go hiking.
The weather is coolor, there are fewer people, and the colors are out of this world!
Hiking, national parks and fall are a terrific combination!
We’re sharing the best fall hikes at US national parks that you should add to your must-hike list.
And a few more bonus tips for hiking in the fall:
- Fall Hiking Gear
- US National Park, State Park and Forest Service Hiking Trails
- Best Fall Hikes at US National Parks
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FALL HIKING GEAR
DOWNLOAD our Day Hike Checklist to make it easy to pack what you need for your next trip!
1. US National Parks Pass
- You can order passes online or get them at any of these Federal Recreation Areas.
- → BUY THE PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
2. Fall Hiking Shoes → Check out our FAVORITE hiking shoes/boots!
3. Fall Hiking Socks → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!
4. Fall Clothing for Hiking (Layers)
- WATER: → We carry water bottles or hydration backpacks
- FOOD: → Check out our favorite healthy snacks
- Flashlight: → Check out the headlamps we like
- National Park maps
- Lip protection with sunscreen
- Polarized sunglasses
- Insect repellant
- Hand lotion
- Female urination device
- Toilet paper (carry out in a bag – do not bury)
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit
- Bags to pack out trash
- Walking stick or trekking poles
- Cell phone
- Portable charger
- Guide books
- Camera Gear
US NATIONAL PARK, STATE PARK AND FOREST SERVICE HIKING TRAILS
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience and appreciate the outdoors in the US.
The trails you find in the US national parks, state parks or forests let you explore mountain peaks, forests, and desert slickrock.
Always check the individual park website, or Forest Service trail site, for current updates on trail conditions.
The Best Fall Hikes at US National Parks
Yosemite National Park
Where to Stay
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite – The lodge is 2 miles from the south entrance to the park. Enjoy the pool and spa after a full day of exploring and hiking! → Check prices here
Yosemite Valley Lodge – You can’t beat the location right in Yosemite Valley with views of waterfalls and El Capitan outside your door! → Check prices here
We love Yosemite and for good reason. There are so many incredible hikes to go and gorgeous scenery.
There is always something to do at Yosemite. Vernal Falls is a hiking trail that’s awesome in the fall.
This is one of the only waterfalls in Yosemite that does not dry up by the time falls arrives.
With three different hiking options in one, there is a hike for everyone on this trail.
You can choose to hike the 1.6-mile loop to the base of the falls. There is a 2.4 mile trail to the top of Vernal Falls or you can go all the way to Nevada Fall on the 5.4-mile loop.
No matter which hike you choose you are guaranteed some incredible views along the way that won’t disappoint.
Zion National Park
Where to Stay
Watchman Villas – You’ll feel right at home staying in these stylish villas that offer a full kitchen… with a view! → Check prices here!
Holiday Inn Express – We always love our stay here because the beds are so comfy! And the view, outdoor patio and fire pits provide a wonderful setting to enjoy a relaxing morning or evening outside. → Check prices here!
Zion National Park Hikes are out of this world, so of course, they are on our best fall hikes in the US.
Fall is the best time to hike Zion. The temperatures are cooler and the crowds are gone.
If you are wanting to see an abundance of color plan your fall Zion trip for late October when the colors start changing.
At Zion National Park there are easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes.
Canyon Overlook Trail is the perfect beginner hike in the fall at Zion. There you will see some of the most amazing colors on this easy trail. While hiking you will be able to take in the views from Zion Canyon.
This is one hike you don’t want to forget your camera on because the colors are incredible. This hike is just about a mile long making it perfect for families.
Angels Landing is another one of those fall hikes in the US that is a must. This is the most popular hike in Zion and for good reason.
On this 5.4-mile hike, you will climb over 1500 feet above the canyon floor. As you climb you will take in the fall colors all along the way, especially on the canyon floor.
If you plan to hike this trail remember it is steep and will take at least 3 hours to do and will require you to use a chain handrail at times.
Observation Point is a strenuous hike on our fall hiking in the US list. This is one you will want to prepare for as it is 8 miles and climbs 2300 feet in elevation.
On average it takes 4-6 hours to complete, but is well worth it! At the top, you will see Angels Landing and other Zion landmarks, not to mention all the trees changing colors.
Arches National Park
Where to Stay
Moab Downtown Retreat – This townhouse is amazing! We like the quiet location within walking distance of shopping; the hot tub in the backyard (also access to a community pool); and the garage to park your car! → Check prices here!
Condos South of Town – We really like the King size bed in the master; the washer and dryer in the unit; and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab). → Check prices here!
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – This hotel chain never disappoints. The beds and pillows are comfy; the rooms are spacious; and it’s so close to the park entrance to Arches! → Check prices here!
Arches National Park in the Fall is not only breathtaking, but the perfect time to go. The weather is great and the crowds are fewer.
We couldn’t just pick one go-to hike at Arches, we had to pick two to add to the best fall hikes in the US.
First on the list, Devil’s Garden Trail. It is the longest hike in Arches National Park. It is 7.2-miles roundtrip if you do the full primitive trail loop.
If you are hiking with kids, or not up for the 7-mile hike, be sure to go on the first mile of the hike to Landscape Arch, the largest arch in the park!
The other must-do fall hike is to Delicate Arch. It is a moderate 3-mile roundtrip hike, much of it a steep gain of elevation on slick rock.
An alternative to this trail would be the Delicate Arch Viewpoint. You can see the arch just a few steps away from the parking lot.
Grand Teton National Park
Where to Stay
Elk Refuge Inn – You can’t beat the view out your window that’s right across from the National Elk Refuge! We like that it’s just outside downtown Jackson and so close to the park boundary. → Check prices here!
Jackson Apartment – This apartment is one of our favorite places to stay near Grand Teton due to its location near shopping and the full kitchen. → Check prices here!
It’s no surprise that Grand Teton National Park is on our list for the best fall hiking in the US.
There is so much adventure at Grand Teton in the Fall, and hiking is definitely one of them.
If you are looking for an easy hike that showcases the beauty of the Grand Tetons in the fall, be sure to hike Lakeshore Trail.
It’s an easy hike that you can stroll along as you enjoy the views of the Teton mountains and Jackson Lake.
This hike takes about 2 hours where you can enjoy the fall colors of the trees along the lake shore.
Acadia National Park
Where to Stay
The Inn at Mount Desert – Great location near downtown but far enough away to be quiet. And it’s only a short ride to the park. → Check prices here!
Bar Harbor Grand Hotel – The rooms here are nice and big. The location is right in the center of town. But there’s a BONUS: parking is included! → Check prices here!
Did you know that Acadia National Park is the most visited National Park in the fall?
Everywhere you look the landscape is bursting with color.
The most popular fall hike in the park is Cadillac North Ridge Trail.
This is a 4.4-mile round trip hike that takes you up 1528 feet where you will see some of the most incredible views of the ocean and the forest.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Where to Stay
Boulder Brook on Fall River – This adults only property is located in Estes Park. At the hotel all rooms have a patio with a river view. Certain rooms come with a kitchenette and oven. → Check prices here!
Rams Horn Village Resort – Each cabin has a patio, a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, a fireplace, a seating area with a sofa, a TV and awesome wifi service! → Check prices here!
We can’t forget about Rocky Mountain National Park on a list about the best fall hiking in the US.
As the aspen trees change to the most beautiful golden colors, you can’t help but be amazed by their beauty.
In the distance, if you go late enough in the fall, you may see snow-capped mountains as well.
At Rocky Mountain National Park there are so many hikes to choose from, but we are a fan of Cascade Falls this time of year.
It is a 6.8 mile round trip hike that takes you into the forested country to the waterfall on the west side of the park.
Many people prefer Cub Lake this time of year. It is 4.8-miles long round trip.
On this hike you will travel to the mountain pond through the woods seeing all the fall colors along the way.