One of the best times to experience a hike is in a season where the weather conditions are not overbearingly hot, humid, or otherwise terrible, making fall the perfect time to lace up your backpack, grab your water bottle, and lace up your hiking boots. And now, it’s never been easier to take advantage of the season and the beautiful landscapes across the continent with Travel + Leisure’s curated list of the best 2021 North American fall hikes to be experienced.
One of the greatest ways to discover all that the waterfront town of Port Townsend, which is located on the Olympic Peninsula, has to offer is to trek on foot across its hikes of varying views, lengths, and difficulties. What makes this location perfect for an outdoor excursion is that in the background of your hike are the distant white-capped mountains, and gasp-worthy fall foliage is in the foreground. Prepare to be inundated with history and Port Townsend’s “true” residents, including deer, eagles, hawks, seals, and sometimes whales as you traverse the Fort Worden Trail. Though, making it up to the summit of Mt. Walker is an absolutely stunning experience that you must consider, as it’s difficult to put into words due to the immense amount of plant life and sheer natural beauty that is to be observed at its great height.
This town is far too special to be left behind in the shadow of its Tennessee counterpart. The tiny town of Nashville, Indiana is considered by many to be a best-kept secret due to the transformative vision that is attained each year between late September and early November when the leaves change color. Explore “Indiana’s Stonehenge” or Browning Mountain when you hike through a deep set of woods to find a baffling circle of sandstone slabs, a quaint pool, and an old gilding foundation on this superb hike. Additionally, one of the area’s best fall hike trails is the 160-mile Knobstone Hiking Trail that shows those who seek it out a rugged, scenic look at one of the more interesting areas of the South Central Midwestern United States.
Located in the Adirondack Mountains is the lakeside village of Lake Placid, which is home to the largest trail system in the nation. The region’s marked hiking trails cover over 2,000 miles, so it’s no wonder why the locals love the outdoors so much. One of the more notorious trails in this area is the region’s system of trails that lead up to the breathtaking views of the 46 High Peaks, an area of over 4,000 feet that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re in a time crunch, the Lake Placid website separates its trail suggestions by their allotted time, allowing you to plan a 1-2 hour hike or a 2-4 hour hike at your leisure.
The city of Gatlinburg has been known by those on the East Coast to provide a plethora of outdoor activities to keep you entertained year-round, but the autumn season truly sets this location apart from the others. Plan your visit to experience amazing fall hikes. Traverse some of the over 800 miles of hiking trails that can be experienced along the Great Smoky Mountains and its valleys can range from a leisurely walk beside wildflowers to a challenging, yet rewarding trek through the backwoods. Some standout hiking routes to seek out include watching a sunrise or sunset from the 6,600 feet height of the LeConte Lodge that rests atop Mt. LeConte and the five-mile round trip along Abrams Creek to the gorgeously deep Cades Cove Valley.
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