By Michael Lanza

The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of bugs, and fall foliage color. Autumn also stands out as an ideal season for many Southwest hikes, with moderate temperatures and even some stunning color.

From Yosemite to Yellowstone, Grand Canyon to Grand Teton, the Great Smokies to the White Mountains and hikes that may not be on your radar, like the Ruby Crest Trail and North Cascades (lead photo above), here are 10 backpacking trips that get even better in fall—all of them standouts among the innumerable trips I’ve taken over the past three-plus decades, including 10 years as Northwest Editor at Backpacker magazine and many years running this blog.

Don’t stay home and lament the end of summer—get out and make the most of autumn, an ideal time of year in the backcountry.

Please share your thoughts, questions, or suggestions for fall backpacking trips in the comments section at the bottom. I try to respond to all comments. Click any photo to read about that trip.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A backpacker near Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.
” data-image-caption=”Todd Arndt backpacking to Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.
” data-medium-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A backpacker near Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.” class=”wp-image-35504″ srcset=”https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?resize=1080%2C720&ssl=1 1080w, https://i2.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Cas10-032-Todd-Arndt-near-Park-Creek-Pass-North-Cascades-N.P.-2.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Todd Arndt backpacking to Park Creek Pass in North Cascades National Park.

North Cascades National Park

In the last week of September, with huckleberries ripe and tasty and the larch trees blazing yellow with fall color (lead photo at top of story), a friend and I took an
Did you miss our previous article…
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