An Unexpected Autumn Rainbow
Backpacker|September - October 2021
These 10 hikes bring kaleidoscopic hues to overlooked places.
By Kristin Smith

1 Mt. Major Mt. Major State Forest, NH

Info bit.do/mtmajor Trailhead 43.5190, -71.2736

September hits Mt. Major with a bang, turning the grasses, sedges, and shrubs that cover its summit bright yellow, orange, and deep red. In addition to the colorful foliage, the 3-mile out-and-back trail to the top opens to painted views of Lake Winnipesaukee and the White Mountains, providing top-notch photo ops.

2 Maah Daah Hey Trail Little Missouri National Grassland, ND

Info mdhta.com Trailhead 47.5863, -103.2786

Whether you're tackling a section of this path or the full 144-mile thru-hike, autumn is the season to visit the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The most colorful of the 60 distinct species of prairie grasses along the route are little and big bluestem and switchgrass, which each turn bright red and gold in September and October.

3 Raven Cliff Falls Chatahoochee National Forest, GA

Info fs.usda.gov/conf Trailhead 34.7096, -83.7892

This 4.9-mile hike passes through mixed pine and hardwood forest to several waterfalls, the tallest of which gushes from a deep split in a 40-foot cliff. To get your color fix, keep an eye out for the bright orange berries of American bittersweet vines among the trees. The woody stems spiral to a height of up to 20 feet.

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