As the calendar turns from summer to fall, we all are anxious for the first snowfall and for winter to arrive. Yet, fall in the mountains is a time the Alps & Meters team treasures: spending quiet and relaxing moments in mountain settings with incredible scenery before the hustle and bustle of ski season.
Here are a few of the best places to spend your fall days in the mountains as you count down the days until winter.
MAROON BELLS TRAIL, COLORADO
Just outside of Aspen lies what is purported to be the most photographed place in Colorado, Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake. The "Bells" are Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak, both topping out above 14,000 feet. The peaks were formed from sedimentary mudstone hardened into rock, which is brittle compared to the granite and limestone of other Colorado peaks. Loose boulders from the steep peaks tumbled down to the valley floor, damming up Maroon Lake, a high mountain lake sitting above 9,000 feet.
Take the 6.4-mile roundtrip Maroon Creek Trail at the outlet of Maroon Lake to experience a wonderful hike through the forests and fields of the valley along the creek where a variety of wildlife can be spotted.
SLEEPING INDIAN TRAIL, JACKSON HOLE
The Tetons are perhaps the most beautiful mountains in America and, while they're fun to hike too, we much prefer to look at them while hiking the Gros Ventres on the other side of the valley. Hiking up Sleeping Indian is certainly a moderate-to-difficult hike (a 4,500 foot elevation gain over seven to eight miles to the summit), the wildflowers that line the trail through the summer and early fall is as beautiful as it gets.
LONG TRAIL, VERMONT
The Long Trail of Vermont is the oldest long distance hiking trail in the United States, running North-South along all 272 miles from Southern Vermont to the Canadian border. The trail connects the summits of all the major peaks (and ski resorts) of Vermont: Stratton, Killington, Mt. Ellen (Sugarbush), Mt. Mansfield (Stowe) and Jay Peak.
Our preferred route starts at the Appalachian Gap (not far from Mad River Glen) to the top of Mt. Abraham. New England fall foliage is legendary, and there are few better places to take it in than Camel's Hump State Park.
SUNSHINE COAST TRAIL, BRITISH COLUMBIA
We love a good hut trip, and Canada's longest hut-to-hut hiking trail gives hikers a sampling of some of wildly beautiful yet diverse land surrounding the Powell River in British Columbia. The trail meanders through lakes and creeks, dense mountain forests and high-top plateaus, but our favorite section of the trail is along the coastal inlets surrounding Tin Hat Mountain.
All the huts on the trail are first-come, first-sleep, but most have plenty of room to pitch a tent nearby. Many huts are winterized huts as well, allowing for year-round hiking, skinning or snowshoeing if you can't get there until winter.
PUEZ-ODLE ALTOPIANO, SOUTH TYROL ITALY
The rugged beauty of the Dolomites and classic alpine towns like Val Gardena and Cortina d'Ampezzo have long captured our imagination as one of the most beautiful places on the planet. This classic 12-mile trail can be accessed by taking the Selva gondola from Val Gardena. You'll be rewarded with incredible views of the jagged rocks and the idyllic Italian mountainside towns like Santa Maddelina that lie in their shadow.