10 Reasons Fall is the Best Hiking Season

When is the best season for hiking?

There are endless hiking opportunities during the Winter, Spring and Summer. But Fall brings a unique charm that makes it the best season for hiking. Here’s why:

1. Slow down and look up

No other season prompts you to pause and look around quite like Fall. Nature is best experienced slowly. Sometimes when you’re hiking it can be easy to focus too much on the destination or spend a lot of time watching your footing. But in Autumn, bright colors call your attention away from the ground and towards the glowing deciduous trees that make this season so special. Take your time and look up!

2. Perfect temps

After the dog days of summer end, cooler temps start to prevail. You can now hike your favorite steep trails without having to contend with 90+ degree weather. Let’s be real, sweating is good for you but who really loves a soaked shirt under your backpack and guzzling water by the gallons? Regulating your body temperature is much easier to do in the fall and dehydration is much less of a concern. And if you’re not a fan of freezing temps, then fall is your last chance to get in all the outdoor activity you can before winter’s icy grip takes hold and access to your favorite remote areas close for six months.

3. Wildlife

During the fall squirrels, beavers, rabbits, foxes, etc. are making final preparations for winter by gathering extra food and readying shelters. The chances of seeing wildlife while hiking increase. Rut season, with all of its drama, also accompanies fall, which makes it a great time to get out the binoculars and watch deer, elk and moose compete for their place in the reproductive hierarchy. Just make sure to take proper safety precautions. It is not uncommon to happen across an aggressive moose and maintaining a safe distance is always recommended. During the fall you may also come across hunters. Wear bright colors to help hunters distinguish between you and the game they’re after.

4. Fall Photography

Whether you’re a professional, amateur, or novice photographer you’re bound to get some amazing shots while hiking in the fall, so make sure to leave room in your pack for a camera. There are a plethora of fall photography tutorials online. Here is a recommendation for a fall photo/video course from a professional photographer who takes his time to guide you through what he is doing.

5. Less crowds

School is back in session and that means fewer travel plans for families and less crowds. Nothing kills the magic of what would have been an awesome hike like having to battle for a parking spot and waiting in lines of cars. Of course, some destinations may actually have more crowds in the fall; take Smoky Mountain National Park for example. However, if you plan your outing early in the week and take advantage of the morning hours it’s easier to find some solitude.

6. Fewer bugs

If you had to pick between crowds or mosquitos which would you choose? In the fall you don’t have to choose either. The little buggers are finally calm for the fall hiking season. Insect repellant might even be optional in some areas.

7. Crisp air

One big drawback to hiking in the summer in some places is the humidity. Even the most enthusiastic outdoorsman will opt for the couch on those hot, humid days. When fall rolls around and the air cools, nothing beats the feeling of taking big, clean, deep breaths of air and being able to see your breath as you exhale. So when you hike, be grateful for that pristine oxygen filling your lungs.

8. Fall campfires

Try making a fire at the end of your autumn hike. The contrast of the crisp air, heat of the fire, and the smell of burning pine is the perfect combination of outdoor bliss. Make sure to check local fire regulations for safe places to hike and build campfires.

9. Reflection and inspiration

Many of us enjoy hiking for the quiet time to reflect and get inspired. It always seems like the fall season has a way of allowing us to clear our heads, think back and shed the weight of the waning year; similar to the trees shedding their leaves. Hiking in autumn conditions is bound to leave you feeling lighter and inspired.

10. Calm before the storm

Despite our best efforts to simplify plans every holiday season, it seems like the hustle and bustle always catches up to us. We can easily stress about holiday travel plans or which gifts to buy. Knowing that the anxiety of the holiday season is nigh, you should get out and hike as much as possible in the fall. It’s your last chance to fill your tranquility canteen. Make it count!

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Now gear up and get out there!