Great Fall Hikes

When the leaves start to change and the temps start to drop, it’s time to grab the ol’ hiking boots and hit the trails! Fall is the perfect time of year for hiking. There are generally fewer people on the trails, the mild temperatures are ideal for dogs and humans alike, and even in the evergreen forests of the Northwest, the changing colors of the leaves are stunning.

Many members of the GoCamp team love to hike. One even wrote the definitive guidebook to hiking in North Carolina! So to celebrate the fall season, we asked members of the GoCamp team to share their favorite fall hikes in the U.S. Check out our favorite fall hikes below.

Northeast

Pennsylvania

Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

This vivacious vista is the perfect place to plop down with a bagged lunch and binoculars. Why? To see one of the largest birds in the world, raptors! With multiple hiking trails surrounding the viewing point, you can pick your own adventure while also taking in the gorgeous fall landscape. And remember! Always leave our natural spaces better than you found them. Pack in and pack out, friends!

New York

Kaaterskill Falls

  • Location: Catskill, New York
  • Length: 1.4 miles round trip
  • Learn more

Ready to see the highest cascading waterfall in New York State? Native American people have claimed this to be the resting place of the creator and a holy place for the Mohican people, the original inhabitants of  the Catskills. While enrapturing both hikers and artists with its stunning landscape and power, this hike will leave you breathless in more ways than one!

South/Southeast

Tennessee

Cades Cove

  • Location: Great Smoky Mountains – Townsend, Tennessee
  • Length: Numerous trail originate in the cove and check out the scenic drive!
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Hiking not your thing? No worries! Cades Cove offers a stellar drive-along experience. Cruise back in time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Along the way, you can make pit-stops to see historic homes, churches, and school houses built by early settlers. Fall is one of the best times of the year to check out this national treasure as the foliage frames the history looming around you. And don’t forget your camera!

Rainbow Falls

  • Location: Great Smoky Mountains – Gatlinburg, Tennessee
  • Length: 6.5 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Learn More

The GoCamp team completed this hike together on our annual team retreat in 2022. We can attest that the fall foliage is stunning in the Great Smoky Mountains. This hike gains 1,700 feet of elevation in the first ~3 miles. So, come prepared with layers, plenty of snacks, and water.

Arkansas

Goat Trail to Big Bluff

  • Location: Ozark National Forest – Compton, Arkansas
  • Length: ~4 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Learn More

If you’re looking for incredible views and a geological experience, then look no further than the Goat trail to Big Bluff. Gaze out at the Buffalo National River as you traverse this rocky landscape. When you reach the 550-foot big bluff (and trust us, it’s big!) the views will leave you speechless. We guarantee it.

Texas

Late fall through early spring is peak hiking season in Texas. Note that the parks are also very busy at this time. If you’re planning to visit Texas for an outdoor adventure in the winter, be sure to do your due diligence in planning. There may not be as much fall foliage, but you will find no shortage of reds, oranges, and yellows in the sunsets and the soil.

Window Trail 

  • Location: Big Bend National Park
  • Length: 5.6 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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The Window Trail is a great introduction to the Chisos mountains and the desert landscapes of Big Ben National Park. This hike is a two-for-one delight. You’ll be hiking in the mountains, and the trail leads to panoramic views of the desert.

There is also a shorter, paved trail – Window View Trail is 0.3 miles round trip. This is a great option for those looking for a place to view the sunset, enjoy a park bench, and it’s wheelchair accessible.

Lighthouse Trail 

  • Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park – Canyon, Texas
  • Length: 5.8 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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Did you know? The second largest canyon in the U.S. is located in Texas! It’s true! And the Lighthouse Trail is a great option to access sweeping views of the vibrants reds and oranges that cloak the walls and the ground. Make your hike longer by starting on the Givens, Spicer & Lowry Trail.

Northwest

Oregon

Donner und Blitzen River Trail

  • Location: Glendale, Oregon
  • Length: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Starting at the south end of Page Springs Campground, the Donner und Blitzen River Trail cuts a short but very scenic path into the small gorge carved out by the state’s largest river with no outlet.

Multnomah Falls

  • Location: Columbia River Gorge
  • Length: 1/2 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Easy
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This popular hike is great for kids and people looking for a leisurely stroll among the fall foliage. While a short hike, the grade is steep. Wear quality footwear with ankle support and enjoy! Please note that this is a very popular area, and you may need to take a shuttle to the trailhead.

Washington

Ingalls Creek

  • Location: Central Cascades
  • Length: 30 miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
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This beautiful trail runs along a creek at a gentle grade. For backpackers, there are multiple gravel bars and established campsites to choose from. For those looking for an exploratory jaunt, this is a great option too.

Mount Constitution via Mountain Lake

While maybe not the best place for fall foliage, this hike will give mountain views, old growth forest, summits, and lake views. Oh, and mild temperatures.

Southwest

Arizona

Rim to River

  • Location: Grand Canyon National Park (South Kaibab to Bright Angel)
  • Length: 17 miles miles round trip
  • Difficulty: Very Strenuous
  • Learn More

Fall is a great time to hike on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Bright Angel and South Kaibab trail are the most popular NPS-maintained trails. Each trail offers spectacular views of the Canyon. If you’re not up for the entire hike, even going down one mile and turning back is worth it! Or, if you’re looking for a big adventure, you can hike the South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch and then return via the Bright Angel trail.

There is also the option to camp at Phantom Ranch and make it an overnight backpacking trip! To do so, you will need to reserve campsites months ahead. If you aim to do this hike in one day, you will want to start very early in the morning, pack lights and extra layers, and consume 200-300 calories per hour.

New Mexico

Dune Life Nature Trail

  • Location: White Sands National Park
  • Length: 1 mile roundtrip
  • Difficulty: Mild / Moderate
  • Learn More

Fall is a great time to visit White Sands National Park.  This is a very unique national park experience, because when hiking, you must follow the trail markers. Since you’re hiking in and over sand dunes, there is not a distinct trail. There is also a  wheelchair accessible boardwalk for those who want to experience the magic of the dunes without getting in the sand. This boardwalk gets up close and personal with the dunes too!

Utah

There are loads of incredible hikes in this state – way too many to narrow down for this specific blog. So, we’re recommending a lesser known fall experience that will not disappoint!

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge Auto Tour

  • Location: Brigham City, Utah
  • Length: 12 miles roundtrip
  • Difficulty: N/a
  • Learn More

The fall waterfowl migration peaks in the first week of November at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge outside of the Great Salt Lake. Around 220,000 birds will depart for the winter. Visitors can drive (or ride a bicycle) the 12-mile route through the Refuge. Along the way are towers where you can view the refuge from a birds eye view. 

And when you’re ready to stretch your legs, you can walk the 1.2 miles of trails around the Wildlife Education Center.

Hike Your Way Home for the Holidays

Camper vans make fall and winter camping significantly easier. With built-in kitchens you can cook up something warm and cozy after a day of adventuring, and with built-in heaters you can stay toasty and warm no matter the weather outside.

Traveling for the holidays? Holiday travel can be stressful so why not add a stop or two along the way to get you into the holiday spirit? Spend a portion of your holiday outside and you'll show up with the kind of smile only time spent in nature can inspire.