Fall is the perfect time to explore the beauty of America’s National Parks. We’re sharing the best fall hikes at US national parks cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and stunning foliage.
For more information about the best hikes at US National Parks this fall, check out our list below that includes trail difficulty, distance, time needed, and what to expect when hiking this time of year.
From Yosemite Valley in California to Acadia National Park in Maine, take advantage of the crisp air and bright colors while exploring some of our country’s most beautiful natural landscapes.
Keep reading for our tips about hiking gear and trails we recommend you explore in the fall at US National Parks and surrounding areas.
Check out this list of 60+ Best Hiking Trails in the US for even more adventure! Grab the free printable list by clicking the graphic below!
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Fall Hiking Gear
- Hiking shoes
- Darn Tough socks
- Wicking clothing
- Fleece jacket
- Refillable water bottle or hydration backpack
- Healthy snacks
- Flashlight or headlamp
- National Park maps
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Photography Gear for Hiking
- Best Cameras for Hiking
US National Park, State Park and Forest Service Hiking Trails in the Fall
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience and appreciate the outdoors in the US, especially during the fall season.
When you explore fall hikes in the US you’ll find the weather is cooler, there are fewer people, and the colors are out of this world!
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
Yes, fall is our favorite time for hiking, but the other seasons are great times to explore the parks as well. Check out our guide for finding the best National Parks to visit by month.
During each season and month of the year, national parks will have different hiking (and snowshoeing) opportunities!
If you’ll be hiking with kids, fall provides nice weather and you can create fun activities along the way with the colorful leaves!
Yosemite Hikes in the Fall
We love Yosemite in the fall, 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.
Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
Zion hikes in the Fall
Zion National Park fall 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 because the temperatures are cooler.
If you are wanting to see an abundance of color, then Zion National Park in the fall is the time to go. Usually October is the time when the colors start changing.
At Zion National Park there are easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes:
Canyon Overlook Trail – This 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 – This is another one of those fall hikes in the US that is a must. This is the most popular hike in Zion so you’ll need a permit to hike this trail year round! 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 – This 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.
Check out our list of Zion hikes without the shuttle to escape the crowds!
Where to Stay Near Zion
Arches Hikes in the Fall
You’ll love exploring any of the Arches National Park fall hikes this time of year. The weather is perfect!
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.
Devil’s Garden Trail – 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!
Delicate Arch – 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.
Where to Stay Near Arches National Park
Grand Teton Fall Hikes
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 the best Grand Teton National Park easy fall hike that showcases the beauty of this park, 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. It’s perfect when hiking with kids!
You’ll also find a list Grand Teton National Park fall day hikes to enjoy mountain views, lakes, waterfalls and wildlife!
Where to Stay Near Grand Teton
- Where to Stay Near Grand Teton National Park
- Grand Teton National Park Lodging
- Glamping Near Grand Teton National Park
Acadia Hikes in the Fall
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.
Acadia National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Acadia National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Acadia National Park
- Acadia National Park Tours
Rocky Mountain Hikes in the Fall
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.
Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging & Tours
- Hotels Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Rocky Mountain National Park
- Tours Near Rocky Mountain National Park
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US National Parks Packing List
Use our US National Park Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting during the fall months! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!