Best hiking trails for fallLifestyle
Getting out to see the changing leaves might be all the motivation you need to take a hike this fall. At the same time, you'll reap physical and mental benefits.
Like other aerobic activities, hiking can increase your cardiovascular fitness and reduce your risk of chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Yet it's the mental benefits that often surprise people. "Walking in nature can reduce levels of anxiety and depression," says Wesley Trimble, the program outreach and communications manager with the American Hiking Society in Silver Spring, Md.
Ready to lace up those hiking boots? Below, Trimble recommends four beginner-friendly trails around the country. They're especially good for new hikers because of the lower elevations, which should be your first consideration when choosing a route. The higher the elevation, the steeper the trail, after all. Want more suggestions? Visit americanhiking.org to locate trails in every region of the country.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, Darien, Ill.
Why you should consider it: In the nearly 2,500-acre preserve, you'll find four mapped trails that take you through this glacier-carved area. Prairies, savannas, and woodlands will entice you to explore, and while the waterfall might be an end goal, you'll also enjoy fantastic opportunities to see birds and other wildlife.
Upper Francis Pond Preserve, Nassau County, N.Y.
Why you should consider it: On this easy-to-navigate trail, you'll encounter one of the oldest stands of tulip trees in the area. It's also a nesting ground for great horned owls and ruby-throated hummingbirds.
Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
Why you should consider it: You'll have more than 32 miles of trails to choose from in this more than 1,700-acre park, and most of them are relatively flat. Even though the park is located within the city, it's home to lots of wildlife, including dozens of bird species.
Forest Park, Portland, Ore.
Why you should consider it: This nearly 5,200-acre urban forest has numerous trails to satisfy any level of hiker. But you won't be alone. The park is home to more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species, including the black-headed grosbeak, Douglas squirrel, and black-tailed deer.