5 of the best hikes for leaf peeping this fall

Today, we must bid adieu to you, sweet, sweet summer … It’s the first day of fall.

The nights are getting a little cooler, the days a little shorter, and the outerwear a little thicker.

Fall is all about changes, and nowhere do we see the seasonal transformation more than in Mother Nature’s leafy playgrounds.

Whether it lasts a month or gets wiped out in a couple of days, fall foliage is one of autumn’s biggest draws and, unlike pumpkin-spiced everything, it never seems to get old.

Photo courtesy of @amyjhumphries/Twenty20.
Photo: Courtesy of @amyjhumphries/Twenty20.
To celebrate the turn of the season, we’re taking a look at a handful of the best hikes to soak in the fall foliage.

Whether you’re already pining for next summer, or can’t wait for the snow to fly, don’t overlook a chance to get out there and catch the show this fall.

The Enchantments, Washington

Photo courtesy of Chris Weber/Flickr.
Photo: Courtesy of Chris Weber/Flickr
There might not be a more aptly named place on Earth than Washington’s Enchantments.

Glaciers carved out this alpine paradise thousands of years ago, and now smooth granite faces and beautiful alpine lakes highlight this stunning stretch of wilderness in the Cascade Range.

In the fall, the area’s larches turn a brilliant gold, giving the Enchantment’s well-traveled 18-mile roundtrip route a storybook feel. The trail can be done in a day, however with over 4000-feet of vertical gain, it is best split into a multi-day adventure.

Permit season lasts from May to the end of October, but starting Nov. 1, no permit is required. Keep in mind that snow can come in fast and heavy in the late fall, so make sure to have your trip planned around the weather.

Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire

Photo courtesy of J.Curley/Flickr.
Photo courtesy of J.Curley/Flickr.
The second most-hike mountain in the world (behind Mt. Fuji in Japan), Mt. Monadnock clearly has a couple of things going for it.

First off, it’s set in the heart of forested New England, the ultimate leaf peepers’ paradise.

Secondly, just a couple of hours from Boston, it is one of the easier hikes to access. The surrounding Monadnock State Park has over 40 miles of trail ranging from beginner to strenuous.

To get the best views, pick your way over slabs of and boulders along the White Dot Trail, 3.8 miles round trip from the Rt. 124 parking lot. From the summit take it all in, with views of Killington, Mt. Sunapee and Mt. Washington — the tallest peak on the East Coast.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Photo courtesy of Frank Kehren/Flickr.
Photo courtesy of Frank Kehren/Flickr
Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers 816 square miles of lush, hilly terrain that explodes with color during fall months. However, to get a good look at the goods in the woods, check out Mt. LeConte — the third highest peak in the Great Smokies and a superb foliage trek.

The 12-mile roundtrip journey is moderately strenuous, so plan for a full day of walking, but the views are worth the leg burn. Topping out around 6,500 feet, this hike offers several vantage points and can connect with the popular Alum Cave for a little added incentive.

Wasatch Crest, Utah

Photo courtesy of Tom Kelly/Flickr.
Photo courtesy of Tom Kelly/Flickr
Before it’s covered in some of the best snow on Earth, Utah’s Wasatch Range throws an epic art show for hikers and bikers every fall.

Along the area’s popular Wasatch Crest Trail aspens light up in between evergreen forests, creating a color contrast you need to see to believe.

The trail is over 20 miles in length, but with easy access from both Salt Lake and Guardsman’s Pass, it is to knock off portions of the hike without turning it into a Herculean trek.

Camel’s Hump, Vermont

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 2.41.09 PM
Photo courtesy of Charles Wohlers/Flickr
Just outside of Burlington, Vermont, Camel’s Hump is the quintessential New England hike.

Winding through maple and birch, the Monroe Trail is just one of a handful of trails pushing up Vermont’s third highest peak, but the 6.6-mile roundtrip gifts views of New Hampshire, Vermont and as far away as Canada.

When the leaves start to turn, this is one of the best spots on the Eastern Seaboard to take in the action.

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