Fall is one of the most amazing times of the year to go hiking. If you’re looking for US travel ideas to enjoy the outdoors, take a look at this list of trails for the best fall hiking in the US.
There are easy, moderate or strenuous hikes in the US National Parks, State Parks and Forest Service land. We love hiking in the fall when the weather is cooler, there are fewer people, and the colors are out of this world!
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WHAT TO PACK FOR A DAY HIKE
Check out our hiking gear list and tips for a day hike with kids!
→ DOWNLOAD our Day Hike Packing List
- Hiking shoes – we like Merrell Moab and Oboz hiking shoes
- Hiking socks – we always wear Darn Tough socks to keep our feet happy!
- Lots of Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- Food – healthy food that’s portable and filling!
- Lip Balm – get lip balm with UV protection
- Sun protection – sunscreen is important in the summer and winter!
- Hand sanitizer – travel hand sanitizer is good for those times when you can’t wash your hands thoroughly!
- Flashlight or headlamp – a headlamp is perfect for those morning or evening hikes
- Sunglasses – UV sunglasses are good for summer and winter
- First aid kit – carry a first aid kit in your car and in your backpack when hiking
- Insect repellent – bug bites are no fun!
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist!
US NATIONAL PARK, STATE PARK AND FOREST SERVICE HIKING TRAILS
Hiking is a terrific way to experience and appreciate the outdoors. The hikes you find in the US national parks, state parks or forests take you over mountain peaks, through tall forests, across desert slickrock and even IN rivers. Here’s a list of the best fall hikes at US National Parks!
The US National Park website, the local state park website and US Forest Service website have terrific information about hiking in the parks, types of trails you’ll find in the parks and best tips for staying safe. Always check the individual park website, or Forest Service trail site, for current updates on trail conditions.
Do your research before starting any hiking trail, even the easy ones. Visit the website for the location you want to hike. You need to know about rock cairns, guidelines for archaeological sites, hiking etiquette, identifying plants, hiking in bear country, and more!
- What to Bring on a Day Hike
- Hiking Gear and Tips for Kids
- Winter Clothing for Hiking
- Photography Gear for Hiking
- Best Cameras for Hiking
The Best Fall Hiking in the US
Fall is the best time for hiking because the weather is more temperate and the autumn colors are beautiful. If you enjoy taking pictures on your adventures, check out our photography gear for hiking!
CALIFORNIA: Yosemite National Park
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 must 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 look to the base of the falls. The 2.4 miles 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 & Tours
- Hotels Near Yosemite National Park
- Vacation Rentals Near Yosemite National Park
- Tours Near Yosemite National Park
UTAH: Zion National Park
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 trip to Zion National Park in the fall 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.
→ CHECK OUT these hikes from Las Vegas if you want to extend your trip!
Where to Stay Near Zion
- Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
- Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
- Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
- Vacation Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants.
Resources for camping near Zion:
UTAH: Arches National Park
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. It is perfect to go on this time of year because of the cooler temperatures.
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 other must-do fall hike is to Delicate Arch. It is a 3-mile roundtrip hike. Here you will see Delicate Arch, which cannot be seen from the road. It is definitely worth the hike that you don’t want to miss.
Where to Stay Near Arches:
There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of Moab. There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks.
Here are a few of our favorite places to stay near Arches:
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
- Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.
- Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
- Vacation Rentals – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.
WYOMONG: Grand Teton National Park
It’s no surprise that Grand Teton National Park in 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 to do 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 on as you enjoy the views of the Teton Range and Jackson Lake. It only takes about 2 hours and is perfect for to see and photograph the fall colors!
Where to Stay in Jackson near Grand Teton:
- Elk Refuge Inn – this is right across from the refuge and the closes hotel to the park entrance – our favorite place to stay!
- Elk Country Inn – awesome property if you want to be in town.
- Vacation Rentals – we LOVE having a kitchen to prepare our meals!
- Hotels in Jackson Hole
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
MAINE: Acadia National Park
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
COLORADO: Rocky Mountain National Park
We can’t forget about Rocky Mountain National Park on 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 you may see snow on the mountains if you go late enough in the fall.
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 3.5-mile 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 2.3-miles long. 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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