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      10 American Hiking Trails to Explore This Fall!
It’s October ya’ll. Do you know what that means? It means the leaves are going to start being fifty shades of yellow and orange. The air is going to have that light crispiness to it that smells like a forest and PSLs. I love October. It is my favorite month of the year, no contest. And I’m not just saying that because Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It is my favorite month because it is the best time of year for camping and hiking! And what better way to enjoy October than to get out in it! Nature trails are all over this country that are just begging to be explored!! Here is a list of trails that I have randomly compiled from alltrails.com. These are all short day trip hikes that everyone in the family can take part in from “Sea to Shining Sea”.

Bald Mountain Loop Trail:
Starting in the east, let’s begin with Maine, the state that is featured in many Stephen King novels. I could have sworn that this trail or Bald mountain at least was involved in something that he has written, but my fact checking has shown no facts attesting to my crazy speculation. ANYWHO. Bald Mountain Loop Trail, is located in Dedham, Maine. The trail follows along the south side of Bald Mountain and then the goes up the mountain, loops it and comes back down. It is good because it a just a 1.5 mile hike so it’s really short, yet it challenges you because of the steep climb up and down the mountain. In 1964, during the Cold War, an F-101B Fighter jet crashed into Bald Mountain after there was a mistake about how high up they really were. The 2 pilots were killed and the crash site can be seen from the trail.

Panther Falls:

The Panther Falls trail is located in the George Washington National Forest in Northern Virginia. It is just one of 88 other trails in the forest. I am featuring this trail here because it is a breathtaking place to be in October. Bring your camera, because Panther Falls as well as other waterfalls along the trail are great for nature photo ops and admiring nature with your family or with your partner. It is a leisurely 1.3 miles long going in, and then turning around to come back to where you started. There is even a glorious swimming hole you can jump into from a high boulder if you are brave enough to deal with how cold it will probably be. I’d test it first, but, you know, YOLO!  It is somewhat close to the city of Buena Vista, Virginia and it is deep within the Appalachian mountains which is the best mountain range to be in if you are going to “do October”.

Ozone Falls Natural Area
Ozone Falls is near and dear to my heart as it is a hop skip and a jump away from my home town. It is just outside of the small town of Crab Orchard, Tennessee so close to the Eastern time zone that you have to wonder what time it is really. In my opinion, Ozone falls is more like a rock climbing area that it is a an actual hiking trail. You have to take your time and challenge yourself to make it down to the bottom of the falls. But it is worth the sweat ya’ll and the misty feel of the waterfall is a great way to cool off and feel rewarded for your efforts. You can experience ozone two ways: from the bottom, or from the top of the falls. Both ways will offer you different views of the amazing landscape and it is SOOO easy to get to the top part of the falls that it’s not even a hike. You literally just park your car and walk about 30 - 40ish feet and it’s right there. There are even insane dare devil kayakers that will plummet themselves over 110 feet down to the pool at the bottom.


Wilbur Mills Park Trail
Arkansas is known for its many hiking trails, white water river rafting, nature areas, and natural springs. It may be your final destination for a road trip, or you may just be passing through. Either way, if you are looking to stretch your legs after a long car ride, why not take a peaceful stroll around Wilbur Mills Park Trail? It is paved and loops around 1.3 miles of shady oak trees and lovely wildflowers. Because it is paved, it is also perfect for people who use wheelchairs. You can take your dog for a walk and get some good ole fashioned fresh air before hopping back on the open road!

Starved Rock and Sandstone Point Overlook Trail
Let’s head on up north now to Illinois where some spectacular rock formations can be found along the southern banks of the Illinois River. This nature trail is called Starved Rock and Sandstone Point Overlook Trail. This trail is a challenge at 4.4 miles, but with something new to look at every few steps, you are not going to be paying attention to that. There is a waterfall that you can stand underneath as the water underneath is only about ankle deep. There is so much to do in this place like fishing, camping, and bird watching. Definitely worth a day trip if you live up north and need some October in your life.

Rock Garden Trail
I think when they wrote that song “Home Home on the Range, they were talking about this trail. Rock Garden Trail outside of Amarillo, Texas is another short moderate trail of about 1.7 miles. It is a part of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. It’s an in and out trail meaning that it is not a loop. Bring some water with you as you drink in the landscape that I’ve only ever seen in Western movies. Wide open hilly plains and cactus flowers growing on the small rocks that litter the trail. This trial is accessible year round, but October is a great month to visit because it will help you beat that Texas heat. The sky is so open and pure that it is not uncommon to see big rainbow paint the sky. Just land, land and more land as far as the eye can see! I suggest going either around sunrise or sunset just so you can see how the shadows move across the land. HDTV has nothing on this view!

Newlin Creek Trail
This little gem is not a heavily trafficked trail, which means if you and your honey are out looking for some alone time, this trail has it. Newlin Creek Trail actually used to be an old logging trail. It is located in the San Isabel National Forest near Florence, Colorado. It is 5.8 miles long so start your trek early if you don’t plan on doing any primitive camping. High up in the Rocky Mountains, this area has a very dry climate so best not to light any fires unless you are properly skilled with how to do that in such away that will not trigger a wildfire that we all see on the news later. The trail starts out nice and easy for about .5 miles and then it gets a little more moderate. There are single tracks a lots of loose stones, so watch your step! Along the trail there are the remnants of an old steam boiler, flywheel and chimney that were used for logging purposes. The trail ends in a meadow before you turn back to the trailhead.

Palisade Falls
An easy trail with an iconic waterfall, Palisade Falls is at the end of a 1.1 mile hike. The falls are a part of Gallatin National Forest outside of Bozeman, Montana. This trail is pretty popular because it is so easily accessed and it is also paved! It’s great for seniors, young children and people with disabilities. Because it is so far up north, it is recommended that people visit from May until our lovely October! Not so many trees turning orange here because of all the coniferous trees but who cares when you’ve got a waterfall this great to oggle at?!

The Zion Narrows Riverside Walk
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG! Readers, can I tell you a secret? I am biased when it comes to this particular trail. I have had this trail and many of the other longer countless trails that make up Zion National Park on my bucket list for like EVER! (The longest trail I’ve found is 15.8 miles!) I have been crying inside for not having the funds and the time needed to book a flight or plan a road trip out there. Dear readers, if you make it out to this hiking trail before I have a chance to, take me with you in your hearts! Ok, enough gushing about my trail crush. Sigh.
Ok, so staying with the theme of short, easy to moderate trails, this particular trail is 1.9 miles and most of it is through shallow streams. That’s right break out your gel insoles and water shoes because this trail is gonna change your life! Maybe, I mean, I feel like it could. Or not. I don’t know your life. But just look at these pictures and I encourage you to google some more. No dogs are allowed here sadly, but you are gonna need to focus your full attention on the journey ahead anyways. As you walk through the water filled canyons you might get a little chilly. It is October after all. The Riverside Walk trail is pretty flat and easy to navigate. It travels along the Virgin River to the mouth of the Narrows. This trail is so legit that they have water filling stations at trailheads where there are also buses that drop people off as well as public restrooms. You can go as far up the river as you want, but just know that the water can get up to chest deep in some places!

Lobo Canyon Trail
Lobo Canyon Trail is on Santa Rosa Island off the coast of California. Santa Rosa is part of the Channel Islands surrounded by the beautiful blue Pacific Ocean. This trail has steep rocky cliffs along the island’s edge which is a recipe for some pretty stellar views. It reminds me of the ocean cliffs where Harry Potter and Dumbledore go into that cave where they have to find Voldemort’s horcrux. It’s a wild, untamed and extreme landscape and I totally wanna go in October! The Lobo Canyon Trail is 4.9 miles long and it is a lightly trafficked, out and back. It’s good for all skill levels and when you are tired of walking, just head over to the beach to take a relaxing swim. You will have to take a shuttle to get to the island. You also have the option to check with a park volunteer about guided hikes once you get to Santa Rosa.
 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 196 - October 6153
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