September 25, 2023
Fall is my favorite time of year to get outside, with it’s crisp air, active wildlife, and vibrant colors, it really deepens our appreciation for this beautiful planet we get to call home.
The early signs of fall this year were unmistakable in the Rocky Mountains. Mt. Princeton, in the Sawatch Range just outside of Buena Vista, Colorado, was coated with a fresh layer of snow, giving way to the deep chill of autumn nights, and the stunning palette of read and gold leaves on the montane foliage. But what’s truly enchanting about this time of year are the sun-kissed days, offering the perfect conditions for an unforgettable mountain adventure.
But regardless of if you’re climbing a 14er or simply out to enjoy a serene day in the mountains, fall hiking requires some special preparations. Embrace the beauty of autumn with these fall hiking tips. Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or a beginner, these guidelines will ensure you have a safe and memorable hike.
Fall Hiking 101: Tips for an Unforgettable Autumn Mountain Adventure
In this blog, I will discuss different tips to help you prepare for a safe and fun hiking trip, spoken from a pro 😊
Key Fall Hiking Tips to Ensure a Memorable Experience
1. LAYERING IS CRUCIAL
Fall weather is notorious for its rapid temperature swings. You might notice the mornings are much cooler than the afternoons. Ensure you are comfortable throughout your hike by:
- Starting with a moisture-wicking base layer such as a sunshirt or merino wool to keep sweat at bay.
- Adding an insulating middle layer, such as a fleece or puffy jacket for warmth. You can also double up on midlayers for extra warmth.
- Bring a waterproof layer to protect yourself against any weather like sudden showers or wind that might come in.
2. TREAD CAREFULLY
Cold, wet nights can lead to icy trail conditions, and fallen leaves can both conceal the trail and create slippery patches. Invest in a pair of sturdy hiking boots with good grip. Taking your time and being mindful of each step is crucial, especially on unfamiliar terrain. Check out my favorite hiking boots for good traction here – La Sportiva boots.
3. HYDRATION IS KEY
Cooler weather might reduce your thirst compared to the warm summer months, but your body still needs adequate hydration. Pack enough water, bring electrolytes and a filter, and consider an insulated bottle if you prefer your drink at a specific temperature. This time of year, I really like to bring warm tea for the start of my hikes when it’s really chilly outside. It really helps keep my body and lungs warm so I can breathe better. I have asthma, so the change of the seasons can be really sensitive on my lungs while hiking at higher elevations.
4. CAPTURE THE MAGIC OF FALL
Autumn presents nature in one of its most photogenic forms, and experiencing that on the trail can feel like absolute magic. Whether you’re a photography enthusiast or just want memories to look back on, ensure you have a camera or smartphone handy. You’ll appreciate it later!
5. PRIORITIZE SAFETY
Days become shorter during fall, so always pack essentials like a headlamp, extra batteries, and perhaps even a portable charger. Ideally, you should have the 10 essentials with you on your adventure. Let someone know your hiking plans and estimated return time as an extra precaution. If you need an extra resource for that, check out my FREE Hiking Itinerary PDF.
Read Next: My Secrets to Staying Warm in Cold Weather
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6. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
It is so important to leave informed when hiking this time of year. Before heading out, check the weather forecast, trail conditions and reviews, and if necessary, any wildlife activity in the area. This will help you prepare better and ensure your safety while out on the trail.
7. SNACK SMART
Pack energy-rich snacks like trail mix, protein bars, or even a homemade sandwich. These will keep your energy levels high during your hike. When in doubt, opt for carbs. Some of my favorite fall hiking snacks are homemade fall trailmix, jerky, cheese and crackers, and fresh fruit.
8. RESPECT NATURE
Fall is a transitional period for many animals as they prepare for winter. Take note of the rut, the mating season for animals such as elk and moose, during which they often exhibit more aggressive behavior towards humans. Keep a safe distance, stay aware, do NOT feed wildlife, and tread lightly to minimize your impact on their habitat. It is best to follow Leave No Trace Principles anytime you are recreating outdoors.
Autumn offers a unique backdrop for hiking adventures. With the landscape painted in shades of gold, red, and orange, every trail promises a visual treat. But beyond the cozy fall aesthetics, it’s the challenge and reward of the hike, the stories created, and the memories captured that truly enrich our souls.
If you’re passionate about making the most of this season, equip yourself with the right knowledge, gear, and mindset. And if you ever feel the call of a mountain, or simply the allure of a serene woodland trail, remember there are always guides like me eager to accompany, support, and celebrate with you!
Looking to book your next adventure? Contact Shelby at Ground Up Adventures today!
Happy hiking! 🏔
*Please note that some links above are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission on any purchase you make – at no additional cost to you. If you use any of these links, thank you for your support in advance!
Hi there! I’m Shelby, a
Colorado hiking and backpacking guide!
I’m here to inspire you to climb your mountain from the ground UP.
I’m an avid hiker and backpacker, and also love camping, fishing, and anything else I can do outdoors, even if it means going alone! I believe nature is the best teacher of all, and I find joy sharing this knowledge so you can feel empowered on your own adventures!
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