The calendar may read “summer,” but the shorter days and cooler nights is whetting our appetite for fall. And with fall, comes the beautiful fall foliage season, marking that the winter ski season is right around the corner. Recently, we shared some of the best destinations and ski resorts for fall colors. We’re coming to you now with some of the best ski towns for fall hiking.
Experiencing the peak fall foliage season is all about timing and it’s different in every destination. In Jackson Hole, you can be treated to beautiful fall colors by early September, while other destinations won’t have traces of fall until late September or October. While there’s nothing quite like a scenic fall foliage drive, fall hikes at ski resorts offer viewpoints you just aren’t going to get from your car.
Below, see our list for some of the best ski towns for fall hiking.
Best ski towns on the East Coast for fall hiking
New England is synonymous with fall foliage, and there are few places as renowned for fall foliage as Stowe, Vermont. Dotting the area around Stowe Mountain are a number of hiking trails, including The Long Trail, the oldest long-distance trail in America. One of Stowe’s most popular fall hiking trails is the Stowe Pinnacle Trail, which is a 3.5-mile hike with beautiful sweeping views of the Green Mountains painted with those iconic fall New England colors.
Visitors can hike and bike a number of trails from the base of Camden Snow Bowl. Use Camden Snow Bowl’s trail map, which shows nearby trails, and points out some of the best overlooks. In the fall, hikers can catch beautiful fall foliage views of the surrounding mountains and Penobscot Bay on the Maine coastline.
We round out our New England fall foliage hikes with Loon Mountain in the famous White Mountain National Forest. Loon Mountain has three short trails that vary in difficulty. The Bear Claw Trail has the greatest elevation and views, ascending more than 1,000 feet over 1.6 miles to Loon Peak. The view is worth it with glimpses of Pemigewasset Wilderness, Mount Washington and more.
Best ski towns out West for fall hiking
The Wasatch Mountain Range needs no introduction for its beautiful fall foliage. Situated in Provo Canyon is Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort, which is gleaming with color in the fall. Sundance features 10 miles of hiking for all ability levels. Enjoy a beautiful lift ride up to trails with stunning views, and if you’re a resort guest, take advantage of Sundance Mountain Resort’s complimentary daily guided hikes. Reservations are required.
In Colorado it’s all about those bright yellow aspens, which you’ll find everywhere from Breckenridge to Crested Butte to of course Aspen. While Telluride has tons of great fall foliage hiking trails, Deep Creek Trail is considered one of the best. You’ll need a few hours to complete the hike, but it’s worth it, as the trail meanders through lush aspens and features views of Telluride Ski Resort and Mountain Village.
Lake Tahoe is beautiful any time of year, and fall is no exception. One of Lake Tahoe’s most beautiful fall foliage hikes is Marlette Lake, just off Lake Tahoe’s eastern shore. Near Mt. Rose is Mt. Rose Meadows trail, which is an easy fall hike. The more adventurous hiker can try the 10-mile Mount Rose Summit Trail. In the South Lake Tahoe area, Hope Valley is popular for its fall foliage.
Hikers can enjoy both resort-owned trails and Flathead National Forest trails at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Bonus: Late-summer to early-fall is huckleberry-picking season, and visitors can experience the joys of picking and enjoying huckleberries on their hike. While you’re in Whitefish, it’d be wrong not to catch the stunning fall colors throughout Glacier National Park, which is just 30 miles away.
Washington may be the Evergreen State, but it’s not lacking for stunning fall colors. Great hiking trails surround Mt. Baker Ski Area, including Heather Meadows by the base. One of the most popular trails is the aptly named Chain Lakes Loop Trail, a 7-mile loop that meanders past lakeshores with gorgeous mountain and fall foliage views.