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Health Travel

Best Fall Hikes

As the leaves change and temperatures get cooler, what better way to celebrate than with a weekend fall hike. Here are the best areas for fall hikes to suit any experience level.  Give yourself a boost of autumn spirit and enjoy the great outdoors this autumn.

New England 

New England has such diverse landscape, starting in Maine (one of my “bucket list” vacations) and running the length of Connecticut. The four states in between are Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Every state offers up moderate to strenuous hikes near water or wilderness depending on your endurance.

An easy to moderate hike in Massachusetts loved by artists and nature lovers is Bish Bash Falls. Two miles to enjoy scenery and the biggest waterfall in the state! For a more challenging hike, Mount Mansfield in Vermont will give you breathtaking views near Lake Chaplain. The 6-mile roundtrip hike has been known to have the very best views in the state. With the elevation change be prepared with warmer clothes as you reach the summit and colder temperatures.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains have an abundance of wilderness trails mixed with amenities to make your fall excursion perfect for any age. Trails range from level walking paths to bike and board trails for all ages. There are also nature walks, to help you and your family identify plants and the surrounding wildlife easily. Finally, due to the elevation of the park, your hike can show you some of the best fall foliage near the East Cost of the United States.

Southwest Arizona

If you live in the southwestern region of the United States, you have many choices to experience the changing leaves. Enjoying the crisp fall weather is only a short drive away to northern Arizona. Sedona, Flagstaff and along the Mogollon Rim all have the advantage of being close the urban center of Phoenix. These towns offer some of the best nature walks with only a two-hour drive north.

Humphrey’s Peak Trail is considered an easy 4.5-mile hike reaching an elevation gain of about 3500 feet.  The highest point of the peak is 12,000 feet, so be aware of the elevation change and plan accordingly. Temperatures will also be much cooler when you reach the summit so for all hikes pack warm clothing and the appropriate amount of water and food.

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Travel

Fall Foliage

If you’re like me, I love the cooler weather that autumn brings. A quick weekend trip to refocus and rejuvenate is a healthy stress reliever too.  Finding the changing leaves and fall foliage are always a beautiful travel getaway, and you should plan now. Here are the best locations to see fall colors and the changing leaves near you. Be sure to enjoy those crisp, cool nights too!

Northeast United States

The most colorful spots to view the changing fall colors are listed on this map.  New England with its higher altitudes and much lower temperatures, compared to the rest of the United States, will bring out the reds, yellow and oranges in the hillside landscapes. Why do the leaves change? The chlorophyll breaks down in trees  due to the cooler weather. The green color in a leaf fades to make way for the bright autumn colors like orange, red, and yellow.

Be sure to plan your getaway between September 20th and October 11th for the very best viewing of colors changing near you.   Remember, the colors are at peak during early October and will vary by elevation and tree type. As you progress South, colors will be vibrant through mid-October.

State by State

A more comprehensive map by the Farmers’ Almanac encompasses all the states, for you to narrow down your travel plans. Even in my home state of Arizona, the leaves change in the Northern part of the state of Sedona and Flagstaff. These higher elevations are prime locations to view fall colors not seen on the desert floor of Phoenix.

National Parks

Our National Parks are also a terrific way to sneak in a fall break vacation with the kids and enjoy the changing seasons. 15 of the top locations for fall foliage are in National Parks.  Roads and amenities are still easily accessible for the most part, during the September and October timeframe. Take advantage of less crowded accommodations and campsites this autumn and make your trip to see Mother Nature in action!

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Travel

Travel Smart

If you’re curious what the best books and resources a traveling librarian recommends, read on. From choosing your destination to memoirs, pick the smartest resources that will meet your travel needs and help you navigate your trip.

Travel Guides – Think Maps

As a visual learner, who loves photos, I enjoy DK Eyewitness Travel books. These travel titles always have helpful maps and tons of current pictures.  The location is researched and updated almost yearly and many of the books can be checked out at your library!  Library cards are free of charge, and many books can also be renewed. So, take your travel guide with you and have a free resource at your fingertips. Check out other locations before you travel by visiting your local library, and the travel guides available.

Memoirs on Travel

If you’re the type of traveler, who wants to experience a place you’ve read about, then check out these books. Loosely based on the writers’ personal experiences, you’ll also get a true feel of the destination before you travel.  “Under the Tuscan Sun” is a transformative book about Italy and finding yourself. Another book, “Eat, Pray, Love” also set in Italy explores the regional cuisine. You get the idea. Visit your library, and search “travel fiction” and you will be surprised how many novels based on real life travel exist.

Elephant Journal Website

This website is a writer’s haven, and I love posting my travel articles here. There is also a treasure trove of travel experiences and ideas available for trips. What makes Elephant Journal unique is it’s also a free resource with a very personal spin on the experiences. Just search for Travel or Family Travel and articles will appear that meet your criteria. I’ve personally learned some great ideas for winter travel and unique destinations. Learning  about different travel adventures or hidden gems during a trip is what you’ll find by reading Elephant Journal.

Word of Mouth

Finally, ask your friends, family, and coworkers where they’ve gone and enjoyed the most. Word of Mouth has been the best resource to learn about kid friendly spots and the times of year to travel. Be aware that someone’s best vacation, might not be yours. So, go into your travel discussions with an open mind and expectations that suit your family and travel budget. Your best vacation might be just around the corner after that business lunch. Enjoy and safe travels!