Best Hiking Parks for Fall Colors

Best Hiking Parks Fall Colors

As summer’s emerald-green leaves turn to shades of russet and gold, it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy a hike in the woods and immerse yourself in the splendor of nature’s changing pallete. If you’re planning a Bluegreen Vacations resort visit to Shenandoah CrossingTM, MountainLoftTM, Laurel CrestTM, Christmas Mountain VillageTM or Bluegreen Odyssey DellsTM this fall, you just happen to be heading to a place in the U.S. where autumn is beyond spectacular! Nearby national and state parks feature a range of hiking trails where you can experience the beauty of fall foliage like never before.

Shenandoah National Park, VA | Shenandoah Crossing

has over 500 miles of trails, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which traces the Blue Ridge Mountain ridgeline. Some trails lead to a breathtaking waterfall or viewpoint; others penetrate deep into the forest and wilderness, where dazzling color paints hickories and maples, sumac and Virginia creeper in crimson, ochre and gold. Almost all trail heads can be accessed from Skyline Drive, an amazing mountaintop public road that offers 105 miles of breathtaking vistas of autumn colors the length of Shenandoah National Park.

The south end of the park features Moorman’s River, a 4.2-mile out-and-back hike, climbing gently from the flood-torn banks of the Moorman’s River to one of the most impressive waterfalls in the park. Nearby Turk Branch Trail features a 6.2-mile hike past tranquil mountain streams and historic homesteads, where you’re likely to catch a glimpse of deer and black bear along the way.

At the north end of the park, Old Rag Mountain offers a more challenging hike past switchbacks, boulder scrambles and rock mazes on a glorious 8.6 loop that ascends the mountain and offers a bird’s-eye view of the park’s autumn splendor.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Laurel Crest & MountainLoft

Smokies-HikingThe Great Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee are of the best places in the country for viewing fall colors. Due to the diversity of trees and its broad elevation range, leaf peepers and hikers can usually enjoy the beauty of fall colors for several weeks in the Smokies.

Autumn colors usually reach their peak in the Great Smokies at the mid- and lower elevations from mid-October to early November. It’s the best time to be in the park to view spectacular displays of color from sugar maples, scarlet oak, sweetgum, red maple, and hickories. For spectacular mountainside views, try trails like Rich Mountain Loop, Alum Cave, Bullhead or Mt. Sterling trails. To enjoy a hike among the trees, check out Baskins Creek Falls, Little River Trail, or Porters Creek Trail.

Devil’s Lake State Park | Christmas Mountain Village & Bluegreen Oddyssey Dells

Devils-hiking-lakeLocated just 15 miles south of Wisconsin Dells, Devil’s Lake State Park is a must visit location for those who enjoy hiking, especially in the fall when a canopy of golden sugar maples, hemlock, birch and sumac make the air shimmer with light. Not only does Devil’s Lake offer the best hiking in the Wisconsin Dells, it may offer the best hiking in the entire Mid-West, with 30 miles of hiking trails to choose from.

The east side of the lake offers trails including the .5-mile Group Camp Trail, .7-mile Grottos Trail, and amazing geological formations like Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock. For soaring vistas from cliffs 500 feet above the crystal-clear waters of the lake, take the West Bluff trail. For the most challenging hikes in the area, and the best views, check out the South Face Loop or the figure of 8 loops. The Devil’s Doorway on the south face of the East Bluff offers some exceptional vistas.

So remember to pack comfortable socks and your hiking boots–you’ll be glad you did!

Photo Credits: Vincent Lock, James Wheeler, and Yinan Chen via cc