In case you haven't heard, fall is here which means it's the best time for all things cozy and pumpkin-flavored. It's also the best time to head out into nature for some seriously killer views. Whether you want to check out the changing leaves in a woodsy destination like the Adirondacks or lie under the burnt orange, autumn sky in the desert, there are a bunch of places all across the continent worth checking out right now.
To find out exactly which fall hiking destinations deserve a visit, SELF asked 15 frequent hikers to recommend some of their favorite trails. Their picks include a wide range of difficulty levels and locations, so wherever you may be, or however skilled a hiker you are, there's sure to be a fit here for you.
1. White Oak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
"One of the great National Parks to visit on the east coast for views of fall foliage is Shenandoah National Park. With so trail options from day hikes to backpacking trips, you have nice variety to choose from. One great hike I would recommend is a 9.5-mile trail called White Oak Canyon Trail. It's a challenging hike that leads you along beautiful waterfalls, which creates such a peaceful and tranquil trek for the day. When you reach the halfway point there is a beautiful overlook view at about 2,000-ft elevation. It's a perfect place to snap photos and get a look at all of the fall colors.
Pro Tips: Make sure to follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace as this is very popular Trail also make sure you have your 10 essentials for a day hike. This land was used and protected by the Tutelo and Saponi tribes."
2. Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
"It is an amazing hike in general, but with the fall foliage it becomes magnificent. Over the course of around eight miles you get to see 10 incredible waterfalls, and even get to walk behind four of them. It is an old growth forest, so between the massive trees and gigantic yellow leaves everywhere, it truly feels magical."
—Ellie Hoffman, hiker and traveler, @elliegoesoutside
3. The Gothics via St. Hubert's Trailhead, Adirondacks, New York
"This hike is the epitome of a rugged, challenging, and oh-so-fun New England trail. It'll push your limits just enough so that you enjoy the 360-degree view from the bald summit above. Relax and take in the jaw-dropping foliage of the mountains all around you, while also ticking another Adirondack 46er (one of the 46 high peaks in the Adirondack Mountains) off your list!"
—Felecia Moran, hiker and explorer, @dora_la_explorer
4. Eastern Sierras, California
"Some of the best fall sights and hikes in California can be found in the Eastern Sierras, most notably the wilderness that cover northern Inyo County and Mono County. A few of the go-to fall locations include Bishop Creek, Convict Lake, and the Mammoth Lakes Trails, all which offer gorgeous views along their different levels and lengths of hiking trails and walking paths. Within Mammoth Lakes, a few trails are more known for their colors and views, including Heart Lake Trail, June Lake Loop, and Rock Creek Lake Trails."
5. High Pass Loop, North Cascades, Washington
"This hike is called High Pass Loop, which is a multi-night backpacking trip. I love it because it's challenging and fun. Fall is the best time to go because you get the fall colors and also snow as you make your way higher. We went towards the end of October, so when we made it back down to the small German-style town of Leavenworth, we enjoyed beers and brats (which are always my favorite) during Oktoberfest."
—Brooklyn Bell, artist and adventurer, @badgal_brooky
6. Stanley Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
"Stanley Park is home to an abundance of old growth trees, marine life, and golden fall foliage. Located on the tip of a peninsula in the middle of Vancouver, BC, it's surprising how immersed in nature you can be on a trail and still be close enough to civilization to be able to grab a warm beverage from a cafe after your morning walk or hike. There is no wrong trail in Stanley Park, and with a variety of terrain and lengths you can go for a stroll, a day hike, or a trail run to get your fall color fix!"
—Laura Hughes, writer, photographer, and outdoors-expert, @howsheviewsit
7. Heather Meadows Maple Loop Pass, North Cascades, Washington
"Deep in the heart of the North Cascades in Washington lies Heather Meadows Maple Loop Pass. This stunning loop hike climbs and winds along a ridge line between the craggy peaks of the cascades. With changing colors and yellow larches surrounding, this hike is well worth the long drive from Seattle."
—Sam Ortiz, photographer and plus-size Hispanic mountaineer, @samortizphoto
8. La Sal Mountains, Moab, Utah
"Here there is an abundance of colors in the mountains, and you can easily access two great national parks with just a short drive. Though there's not a lot of foliage, the fall skies are breathtaking and the rock colors are more vibrant in Moab."
—Alex Keeling, wanderer and photographer, @alexandra_abroad
9. Shawangunk Ridge, New York
"A quick hour-and-a-half drive from New York city is Shawangunk Ridge, (or The Gunks for short). They're best known for their spectacular rock climbing, but they also have great hiking paths that lead to the top and offer unparalleled views of fall foliage."
—Priya Mareedu, model and adventurer, @priya_mareedu
10. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
"In October 2016, I was hiking in Acadia National Park on the southeastern Maine coast—what should be the epitome of fall foliage—and jealous of all my friends in Colorado with selfies of popping yellow aspen trees.
So the following year, as part of my 3-year, nonstop road trip to all 417 National Park Service sites, I made sure I was in Colorado as it changed colors. Hiking around Rocky Mountain National Park's lesser-known (and less crowded!) Wild Basin Trailhead, I finally got to see the rich, golden yellow aspens I’d been lusting at a year earlier. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park in early or mid-September to experience the changing colors at higher elevations, then stay around toward the end of the month as the colder weather transforms the trees at lower altitude. It's also prime time to see the elk herds residing near Estes Park."
—Mikah Meyer, road trip and national parks expert, @mikahmey
11. Maple Glade and Kestner Homestead Trail, Quinault Valley, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
"The Maple Glade and Kestner Homestead trail in Quinault Valley is a personal favorite. I love to invite other disabled hikers to this 0.5 mile or 1.3 miles loop trail. The trail is level, hard-packed gravel and is accessible for wheeled mobility aids, though manual wheelchair users will need some assistance. The trail offers beautiful autumn surprises—evergreen trees covered in moss provide a contrasting background for the red splashes of vine maples and the yellow hues of big leaf maples, while mushrooms in many colors sprout from the ground. If you aren’t able to hike, there are many places to take in the breathtaking views. Stick around for sunset, when the golden hour paints the mountains in shades of orange and violet."
12. Lower Crystal Lake Trail, Breckenridge, Colorado
"With so many options in Colorado for fall foliage, it's hard to pick one favorite trail. My favorite views extend beyond the colorful aspens—I love to see the different shades of orange, yellow, and green from the grasses to the shrubs and pine trees. I found all of this on Lower Crystal Lake trail near Breckenridge, CO. In the first mile, you’re surrounded by tall, vibrant gold aspens, and at the end you will be greeted by all the shades of fall at 12,000 ft. At a higher elevation than most, this trail can definitely be a challenge if you’re carrying a 20-pound pack, but it's worth it for my favorite part, which is the view at the top and the peacefulness and serenity of the lake."
13. Little Lakes Valley Trail, Bishop, California
The trail is in a relatively flat alpine valley dotted with lakes plus breathtaking views of glacially mountain peaks sitting at the 10,000′ elevation. The magic of this area is that it’s beautiful at any time of year, but it sparkles starting around mid-September (peak is often early October) when the aspen trees turn a golden color. The drive up to the trail-head can be just as beautiful as the trail! There are numerous lakes along the hike Mack Lake, Marsh Lakes, Heart Lake, Box Lake, and Long Lake; nice places to grab some great pictures or a rest.
—Elsye Chardonnay Walker, explorer, @elsyew
14. Raccoon Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, Colorado
"Golden Gate Canyon State Park is tucked into the foothills less than an hour from downtown Denver, but it feels worlds away. The park offers lots of beautiful trails, but I especially love the fun, moderate-elevation Raccoon Trail on a sunny fall morning. You'll hike through several huge, golden-glowing aspen groves, and the stunning panoramic views of the Indian Peaks mountain range are the perfect reward at the end of the trail."
—Beth Bradley, adventurer and editor, @thebethst
15. Miami Woods, Morton Grove, Illinois
"The Miami Woods—about an hour subway ride from downtown Chicago—is a perfect fall hiking spot. Chicago isn't widely known as a destination for fall color, but if you know to look beyond the skyscrapers and boulevards, you can catch a spectacular show in the dense forest preserves that hug the Chicago River. In the late afternoon, the tree canopy above the North Branch Trail sparkles, like a crown of amber and garnet. The sounds of the rushing river and the leaves crunching beneath my feet drown out any local traffic, and I can easily forget I'm still in the middle of the bustling city."
—Simone Martin-Newberry, Chicago-based nature lover, @unclesweaters
Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.