Out There’s Fall Hike Favorites

The cooler weather that signals the beginning of fall means perfect conditions for hiking, whether it’s an urban walk, close-to-home hike, or backcountry adventure. As the trees begin to change color, check out these favorite fall hikes recommended by a few “Out There Monthly” contributors.

Gold Hill, Sandpoint (Moderate)

Hands down, for reasons of nostalgia, the 51 corners of Gold Hill’s Trail #3 remains my favorite fall hike, ride, and run. I grew up on the backside of this mountain, long before the trail was cut. The flora smells like my childhood, with trilliums blooming in spring, and bright birch leaves falling in the autumn. The 2.5-mile climb (if one just goes to the lookout, though the trail continues) delivers hikers to an incredible view of Lake Pend Oreille, the Pend Oreille River, Schweitzer, and Sandpoint. (Ammi Midstokke)

Iller Creek, Spokane Valley (Moderate)

The Iller Creek Conservation Area offers stunning views of the Palouse and Steptoe Butte, as well as the fall colors unfolding across Spokane Valley and surrounding mountains. Although much of the hike is forested, the sections along the ridgeline get blasted by sun for the better part of the day, making fall the perfect time of year to explore this 5-mile loop trail. The route reaches its highest point at Big Rock, a popular climbing area sitting at 3,600 feet, before following a series of switchbacks back to the parking area. As you descend, keep an eye out for views of Mount Spokane in the distance. (Siobhan Ebel)

Urban Fall Color Walks, Spokane (Easy)

Some of the best places to see the Spokane area’s best fall foliage displays are in the older parks, like Corbin Park in the Emerson-Garfield neighborhood, and Manito Park on the South Hill. Both offer plenty of opportunities to explore and are home to some of the oldest and biggest deciduous trees in the city. There are also less conspicuous places to look for signs of fall in and around Spokane. Following new construction, South Lincoln Street is lined with Sweet Gum trees, which glow in shimmering gold and subdued burgundy during fall. Many of the older South Hill neighborhoods are bisected by boulevards bordered with stately maples whose breathtaking crimson is best absorbed at a hot chocolate-sipping pace. (Justin Skay)

 Sherman Pass/Columbia Mountain, Kettle Falls (Moderate)

If you time it right, the golden display of larch that spreads out across the green, coniferous sea of the Kettle River Range is a fall experience you won’t easily forget. Usually hitting its peak toward the second half of October, there are several pull-outs on the drive up the pass from Kettle Falls where you can stop for views of brilliant larix occidentalis lighting up the surrounding mountains in a mosaic of dazzling color. Park at the top of the pass for a hike up Columbia Mountain, an out-and-back that climbs from the highway to several stunning viewpoints on the way to the summit that houses a restored fire lookout. On top, on a clear day, soak up views that include the Cascades, sprawling British Columbia mountain ranges, and Idaho’s rugged Selkirk peaks. Hike as far as you want with up to 8-miles roundtrip possible following the loop trail around the mountain. (Derrick Knowles)

 The Enchantments, Leavenworth (Difficult)

A day-long push through the heart of the Enchantments is the best hike in the state of Washington, especially in the fall. The challenging 18-mile trot starts at the Colchuck Lake trailhead, ascends the infamous Aasgard Pass, and wanders through the Core Enchantment Zone. If timed right, hikers are rewarded with the classic view of Prussik Peak, surrounded by golden larches, before starting the gradual descent past Snow Lakes. Leave No Trace principles and use of the rustic privies are especially important in this high-use, highly-impacted alpine environment. // (Summer Hess)



Fall Hiking Safety

When hiking in the backcountry or heavily forested areas during hunting season, be sure to take the proper precautions such as wearing bright colors to avoid being mistaken for a bear, deer, or elk. Traveling in a group and making enough noise to be heard by any nearby hunters will also help reduce the risk of an unwanted bear, cougar, or wolf encounter. The majority of wild animals, including predators that some people are fearful of, will bolt if they hear humans coming, but carrying bear spray is always a good idea, especially when hiking in grizzly bear country. // (OTM)


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