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We love pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider doughnuts as much as the next person, but the best fall treat is a leaf-peeping trek. Enjoy crisp weather and breathtaking scenery while touring America’s most beautiful autumn destinations—entirely on foot.

RELATED: Fall in Love with Seattle This Autumn

Clingmans Dome, Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN

Fall colors bring an extra helping of Southern charm to this popular National Park, so reserve a campsite early or plan to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds. For a breathtaking view, drive to the end of Clingmans Dome Road, park your car and hike the ½ mile paved trail to the observation tower. On a clear day, you can see the oaks, maples and hickories ablaze in autumn colors for 100 miles.

Vermont, autumn, fall colors

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe Pinnacle Trail: Stowe, VT

Bring water and pace yourself for this 3-mile excursion, which includes some steep and rocky sections. If you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree valley views and the state’s highest mountain, Mount Mansfield, in the distance. Want the eye candy without all the intensity? Park at the Stowe Meadow trailhead and start your hike from there; you’ll shave off ½ mile and 500 feet in elevation.

Maroon Lake, Colorado, Aspen, fall colors

Maroon Lake

Maroon Bells: Aspen, CO

You’ll feel like you’re standing in a screensaver photo when you visit this hiker’s paradise 10 miles west of Aspen. But you’re not the only one who likes clear blue skies and golden leaves, so avoid parking hassles by buying a mid-week bus ticket from Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. Take an easy 1-mile trek around Maroon Lake, or opt for the 3.2-mile one-way Maroon Creek Trail—your chance to spot mule deer, bighorn sheep, red foxes and other woodland creatures enjoying fall.

Niagara Gorge, New York


Niagara Gorge: Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara Falls gets all the hype, but they’re not the only game in town for incredible water vistas. Fall temperatures are ideal for a moderately challenging 3-hour jaunt from Devil’s Hole State Park down the stone staircase to the Devil’s Hole Trail. There, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Devil’s Hole Rapids.

Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Jenny Lake

Hidden Falls Trail: Grand Teton National Park, WY

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as you make your way around this fairly easy trail that hugs Jenny Lake in Grand Teton and offers views of trees in all their autumn glory. If you’re not up for the entire 5-mile round trip trek, use the Jenny Lake Boating shuttle service. The boat will ferry you across the water and drop you off at the west boat dock, just ½ mile from Hidden Falls.

Central Park, NYC, New York, autumn

Central Park

Central Park Loop: New York, NY

Hear us out: Manhattan’s urban oasis contains 58 miles of hiking trails—from paved walkways to steep, rugged paths. Keep it classic with a walk or run around the Loop, a 6-mile pathway through the park that offers both flat and hilly terrain, people-watching and scenery that’ll have you singing Autumn in New York.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park

Old Rag Mountain: Shenandoah National Park, VA

The name undersells it, but hikers go gaga over Shenandoah’s Old Rag, and so will you. This strenuous 9-mile trip typically takes 7 or 8 hours, so bring rations and leave the kids at home. You can bring them back a souvenir in the form of a photo: a bird’s-eye view photo of the 200,000-acre park vibrant in yellows, reds or oranges.

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