There can be little argument something romantic about the shift from summer to autumn. Every year, as vacations end and students begin roaming the hallways of local schools again, the leaves turn from bright green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. It’s almost as if Mother Nature has a change of the guard to monitor the transition from fun in the sun to work in the classroom.
The weather begins to get colder, but it’s a fantastic time to find a trail to walk and take in the scenic splendor. If you are one of the many who enjoys a good fall hike amongst the trees, put on your favorite sweater and pair of jeans, then visit one of these top ten fall foliage travel destinations:
1. Aspen, Colorado
Tucked away in the mountains to the west of Denver, this isn’t your typical spot to see the leaves. That said, the trees from which the town gets its name provide a fiery golden blanket at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Depending on the path you choose, each successive rise in elevation will bring a more magnificent view.
2. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Whatever your preferred method of travel, the dense forest in this part of the Cascade Mountains provides a wide range of trees to catch your eye – maple, cottonwood, ash, and more. The great thing is, you can enjoy it by car driving along I-84 or plan a rafting trip if you’d like to move at a slower pace.
3. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
An abundance of leafy tree species rise from the cliffs surrounding this Midwestern lake. Some of the best views are from the water, but there are also plenty of well-marked hiking trails complete with information posted about the surrounding forest.
4. Washington County, Maine
The Northeast is always densely-populated at this time of year, but those in search of solitude have a better chance of finding it here than along well-known roads in The Catskills or famous local parks like Boston Common. This quiet region has beautiful coastal lighthouses, too, and is famous for its blueberries – a sweet treat for the end of your hike.
5. Asheville, North Carolina
Situated in the Appalachian Mountains, you’ll love the stunning vistas of this western North Carolina town. Though there’s plenty to see from the Blue Ridge Parkway, the area is best viewed from one of the many bike trails that crisscross the hillsides.
6. Door County, Wisconsin
There are very few place in the US that allow you the opportunity to take a fall foliage tour and visit the beach within a few hours – but you’ll find it here! Peninsula State Park will allow you to relax on the shores of Lake Michigan after a long hike through the falling leaves.
7. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
If you want the feel of rural America while enjoying the bright color palette of the Smoky Mountains, this is the place for you. With more than 600 miles of trails awaiting you, there are plenty of places you can explore – and friendly folks to welcome you when you get back.
8. Lost Maples Natural Area, Texas
Fill a picnic basket and wander along the trails of this south-central Texas beauty. Characterized by the rare Uvalde Bigtooth Maple, you will be surrounded by shades of yellow and auburn as you stroll along. Take some time to go fishing or see if you can catch a glimpse of the uncommon Green Kingfisher flitting between the trees.
9. Litchfield Hills, Connecticut
Want something quaint and somewhat out of the way? Book a room at one of the inns that dot the countryside here in the Berkshire Mountains and walk one of the many trails – especially if you’re close to Bantam Lake. For an extra thrill, schedule a hot-air balloon ride to see the landscape spread out beneath you like a colorful autumn rug.
10. Stowe, Vermont
Billing itself as “Fall’s Color Capital,” you’ll want to take the Mount Mansfield Auto Toll Road through this lush collection of crimson and gold leaves. And, if you’re in the mood, you can swing over to Burlington, the state capital and another popular leaf-peeping spot on Lake Champlain.