Fall Hiking Season is Finally Here!

Fall is Officially Here and its Time to Hit the Trail!

Fall is upon us.

Fall foliage like this can be seen from the Black Balsams, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Of course, summer officially ended — and Fall arrived — on September 22nd. But here in the south, Fall don’t arrive tell it dang ole feels like fall out. Pp until the last few days, it hasn’t felt that way. Last week the thermometer hit 97 degrees in Raleigh.

But the hot weather appears to be behind us, and over the last few days, we can say that it now feels like fall is officially upon us.

Yeah now that feels more like fall! From weather.com

Fall is by far our favorite time of year to hike! It’s our opinion that winter snow conditions aside, summer is probably the WORST time to hike in the southeastern US. Heat, humidity, bugs, violent afternoon thunderstorms…and on top of all that, crowds.

The fall colors, which have arrived late for two straight years, should be arriving soon. We have seen some early signs of leaves changing this year, which is encouraging.

The Smokies in the autumn

Thinking of getting out on the trail this fall? We have a bunch of great suggestions. You can peruse our list of the Top Ten Hikes in the Southern Appalachians, V 1.0, for some ideas. We hope to do some more hikes this year and maybe publish a Version 1.1 list.

We also have a page devoted entirely to Hikes in the Southern Appalachians and Carolinas. 

Also check out our new landing pages for two of our favorite hikes…either of which would make a great fall hike:


Sharp Top


Elk Knob

Even non-hikers will want to get out on the Blue Ridge Parkway for some fall color peeping. The best sections, in our opinion, are those around Grandfather Mountain, south of Blowing Rock; those around Mount Pisgah, South of Asheville; those around the high point of the Parkway and Waterrock Knob; and the final stretch of the Parkway in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. All of those are in North Carolina.

We suggest avoiding the most heavily visited sections of Great Smoky Mountain National Park on Fall weekends; September and November are good times to visit, particularly mid-week. Our favorite hike in that park? Mount Cammerer, on the Tennessee side.

2011-2012 959
Looking Glass Rock is a nice looking spot in fall.

Those near the Washington DC area may want to head west and try out our number one hike in the entire Southern Appalachians — Old Rag. It’s far less crowded in fall. But prepare yourself, it’s a challenge!

There are a lot of great section hikes on the Appalachian Trail. But probably none beats the Standing Indian Loop, which can easily be done in three days without the need for a hitch hike or car shuttle.

Fall colors were somewhat muted in 2018; we’re hoping for a better show this year.

Also don’t neglect the many sections of the Mountains to Sea Trail in North Carolina. Many pass right near urban areas, including Raleigh and Durham’s own Falls Lake Trail.

If we had to suggest one place to go to do a variety of things it would be Brevard NC, a nice mountain town about 45 mins from Asheville. Lots of hikes here, including Looking Glass Rock.

Fall Colors close to home at the Duke Campus in Durham last year.

Though it may not seem intuitive, the fall is a good time to visit many waterfalls if they are flowing. We dislike waterfall hikes in summer since they tend to be overrun with rubes often engaging in reckless acts of Le Stupid. In Fall though, they tend to be much less heavily visited. One of our favorites is Rainbow Falls in The Gorges States Park

Enjoy biking? Perhaps the Virginia Creeper Trail is more your grade.

What creep would possibly fail to enjoy a bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail?

Late October is a fine time to see the Monarch Butterfly Migration. Our favorite place to see it is scenic Southport NC…you might get some nice end of season deals there.


And if you think I’m gonna let the climate change thing pass, well, guess again…2019 was the hottest summer on record for the Northern Hemisphere according to the NOAA.

Go out and enjoy fall. Take a hike! You’ll be glad you did.

Yes, Brian STILL has that Grand Canyon hat.

Note that most of the pictures including the featured image are several years old…we have not seen fall colors like this in the Blue Ridge in years. Will this be the year that it turns around?


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