Save the easy approach to Abercrombie Mountain for summer. Once fall arrives, the long, 14-mile, roundtrip version gives hikers ample time to savor the spectacular colors. What’s more, the trailhead doubles as a free campground, encouraging visitors to make it a weekend.

Start the hike beneath the treed canopy alongside Silver Creek, where the path will likely be lined with fallen gold. This is the only reliable source of water along the route, so be sure to start with full containers. The trail quickly begins to ascend the mountainside, passing beneath massive ponderosa pines though an open parkland setting that provides views of the surrounding western larch-covered hillsides.

Farther up the drainage, the fall colors can be viewed up close as the trail winds beneath aspen stands. On the final approach to the summit of this second-tallest peak in eastern Washington (by one lousy foot!) the views keep getting better and the understory plants add interest as their leaves turn shades from red to purple. You can increase the difficulty level by tacking on the off-trail route to Hooknose Peak, two ridge-walk miles off the summit of Abercrombie.

The trail is open for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, and it’s dog-friendly. Don’t forget your bright colors or hunter orange clothing – October is hunting season in the high hills of northeast Washington!

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Getting There: Take Highway 395 north from Spokane to Colville, then turn right (east) on Third Avenue by Safeway to connect to Highway 20. At the top of the first hill a mile or two out of town, turn left onto Aladdin Road. Continue 25.4 miles to a three-way intersection; turn right and drive 7.3 miles, passing Deep Lake. Turn right onto Silver Creek Road and bear left at the first fork. At 1.9 miles, turn right onto FR 070. After 2.4 more miles, take the left and continue to road’s end at the trailhead and campground. //