Why Fall is a Great Time to Go Hiking
Bright blue and sunny skies; crisp, frosty ground; trees painted in bright reds, oranges and yellows; and hills clad in purple or bronze. If fabulous scenery and tranquil hiking trails appeal to you, then fall is the season to pull on your hiking boots. While too many people put their hiking gear to the back of the closet the minute that summer starts to fade, smart hikers actually keep on hiking! Whether you’re a enjoying the vibrant display of orange hues on the Appalachian Trail or leaf peeping in Rocky Mountain National Park some of the most rewarding outdoor experiences take place in the fall (and winter).
Fall Hiking plus-points
Beautiful views amid colorful fall scenery
Huge panoramas under bright blue skies
Dramatic and breath-taking seascapes
Seasonal wildlife gems
Less crowded hiking trails
Beautiful misty mornings and golden sunsets
Kicking up leaves on woodland strolls
Warming food and drink after a day on the trail
Views on the Appalachian Trail
Health benefits of fall hiking
Being outdoors as we move into a darker and colder season is also good for your health and well-being. While hiking in general is a great way to stay in shape and burn calories, it is also brilliant for boosting your feel-good hormones. Hiking increases serotonin levels, which can help to prevent depression and the traditional fall and winter blues.
Don’t hang up your boots for the fall
So why do so many people hang up their hiking boots once summer is over, and wait until the warmer days of spring-time? Gordon Peter, a walks leader with Ramblers in the UK, believes that some hikers think that hiking in fall and winter are more hazardous. He says: “There is this idea that the hills and routes are safer in the summer months because the weather is better but as we all know weather can be very changeable whatever the time of year. “In fact, I have found that autumn is by far the better season for dry days with bright blue skies, and it’s a time when the weather is easier to predict from one day to the next.”
View from Corpach - Scotland's Great Glen Way
Top tips for hiking in fall
Although often bright and beautiful, depending on where you are in the world, the days can be colder and shorter in fall so it’s important to be prepared when out hiking.
What to wear: Make sure you use the clothing layer system for maximum body warmth. Wear a good quality waterproof jacket and robust, well-fitting hiking boots, and pack extra clothing items in your rucksack, such as waterproof trousers, gloves, hat, fleece jumper or jacket and spare socks.
Be prepared to navigate: If you are caught out in fall or winter by sudden fog or nightfall, navigation is particularly important. Make sure you have a map or smartphone app (and backup battery power!), and brush up on your navigation skills before embarking.
Plan carefully: Check the weather forecast. Start out earlier in the day if you will be hiking a long way, taking into account earlier sunsets. Always tell someone where you’ll be hiking and an approximate return time. And know who to contact, and how, should an emergency arise.
Pack a rucksack: Make sure you take a head torch, along with all the personal safety items you'd usually pack including a mobile phone, small first aid kit, as well as snacks and water. Plus of course - those aforementioned layers!
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This post has been updated from an original post by Fiona Outdoors posted in 2012.