Fall is in the air!
Right now, it’s peak fall foliage, which is the perfect time to experience the beauty of nature. Here are a few hikes with great view of the leaves (and great views in general).
Starting with Tibbet Knob. This is a fun hike year-round, but it’s especially pretty during autumn. At about three miles out and back, this trail is fairly moderate in difficulty and is located in the Wolf Gap Recreation Area. There’s no entrance fee and the hike is dog-friendly, but it’s a popular camping area, so during the weekend you’ll want to arrive early enough to get a good parking spot. The trail itself is typically not super crowded though, especially compared to Big Schloss nearby. At the summit, there’s a stunning view of the valley below and you’ll be treated to some nice views of the leaves along the way as well.
If you’re craving some nice water views, Lower Shamokin Falls is the trail for you. This waterfall hike is a little under four miles out and back, and mild in difficulty, so it’s great for kids and dogs (we had three pups and two small kids, and all of them faired well). While you won’t get any stunning mountain vistas at the end, you will get pretty views of the water and leaves along the way. The parking lot isn’t very big and there’s no fee to park here, so you’ll want to arrive early. That said, this is a great trail for solitude as even on a nice Saturday, we saw one other group hiking. The most difficult part of the trail is towards the end, because to get close to the waterfall, you’ll need to do a bit of bushwhacking and scrambling. That said, you can enjoy looking at the waterfall from a distance (like I did, because I wasn’t wearing my good hiking boots).
Loft Mountain is not only great for fall foliage, but also the perfect sunset hike. Located in Shenandoah National Park, it requires a park pass or entrance fee; however, the views are well worth the price. The loop is about two miles, is moderate in difficulty, and is not dog-friendly so you’ll have to leave Lassie at home. The trail can be hard to find, but park at the Loft Mountain Wayside and then cross the road, where you’ll spot the trailhead. This is a very popular trail, so you’ll encounter others here, but for a bit of solitude, you can hike this in the evening and enjoy watching the sunset over the red and orange mountains.
Humpback Mountain is last but certainly not least. It begins in the Humpback Rocks Picnic Area and roughly one mile in, you’ll arrive at the first of two overlooks that have great views of the valley. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike to Humpback Rocks , which makes this hike about six miles total, out and back. However, the views at the first two overlooks are just as nice and far less crowded. You’re unlikely to encounter a lot of people trail save for some friendly thru-hikers. Also, fun story: I once lost a dog on Humpback Mountain, but that’s a long tale for perhaps another article.
I always recommend downloading a map or directions before embarking on any hikes, solo or with friends. All Trails is a great resource for double-checking hike difficulty, length, and even making sure you’re on the right trail.