5 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Season for Hiking

Adventuring outdoors during each of the four seasons has its pros and cons, but there's something special about fall.

Spring's nice, but variable weather and the drab brown color everything outdoors seems to be until summer his isn't particularly exciting.

Summer's oppressive heat and humidity makes being outdoors a lot less fun at times, and don't even get me started about mosquitoes.

In autumn, Mother Nature shows off in a big way with stunning colors, apple cider is back in season, and winter is up next! There's so much I love about fall, but in particular, these things make it my favorite season for hiking.

It's warm drink season!

If you're anything like me, you'll swear completely off of anything liquid that doesn't come out of a refrigerator or have ice in it all summer. Iced coffee comes with me to work every day, Gatorade powder comes with me on all of my hikes, and I almost forget things like soup exist. It's just too unbearable to think about consuming something hot when I'm sweating!

In fall, we get to welcome back belly-warming favorites like hot cocoa, hot cider, hot coffee, soup, chili, and all sorts of other delicious things that just taste better when it's cooler out. I'll grab my favorite Stanley Vacuum Mug, fill it with my hot drink of choice, and pull it out of my pack on day hikes to stay hydrated and warm.

The temperatures are perfect.

Summer hiking in Pennsylvania means dealing with some serious heat, trying not to melt in the humidity, and avoiding mosquito bites as best one can when the little buggers are everywhere. I also inevitably get sunburned no matter how much sunscreen I put on! Spring brings temperate weather too, but often, rain isn't far behind, and around where I live, it looks a lot like summer minus the hot weather. Winter hiking is a blast if you're a fan of cold weather, plan properly, and have the right gear. I enjoy hiking in snow, but sometimes it can be tough to find other hiking buddies that don't mind temperatures below freezing.

But fall? Wandering the woods in pants and short sleeves during the day, layering up with a comfy jacket and soft, fluffy beanie night...it just doesn't get any better than that.

The season brings new challenges on the trail.

Summer hiking generally seems...easier. You don't have to pack or think about layers, weather can be relatively predictable depending on where you are, and if it rains, getting wet when it's 90ºF out sounds pretty great. True, you have to worry about things like dehydration, thunderstorms, and all the silly mosquitoes, but in the fall, things get a little more challenging. 

Temperature regulation with different types of clothing becomes important. Everyone's layering system can be a bit different; autumn is your chance to perfect yours. Learning how to use foods and liquids to stay fueled and help with temperature regulation is also fun to try during cooler months. Making sure you're back from a day hike before it's dark is tougher with fewer hours in the day. Overall, I love the challenges autumn brings, but it's even more important to plan and be prepared. 

Trails are less crowded.

Truth be told, it can be a great thing when enough people are interested in exploring trails that you're forced to share sometimes. Connecting with the outdoors helps build advocacy, right? But there's something wonderful about how once summer is over and temperatures start to drop, the woods seem to get less crowded. 

I've e found popular hikes to be busy no matter the season, depending on the weather, but generally, we share trails with fewer people in autumn. And enjoying fall's bright red, yellow, and orange colors in a little bit of solitude is amazing.

Autumn colors are just beautiful.

Many species of deciduous trees drop their leaves to avoid, among other things, losing moisture to harsh winds and tissue damage the leaves would face if they kept growing in winter weather.  To prepare for winter, the chlorophyll in the leaves breaks down and gives way to the stunning red, yellow, and orange hues we all know and love. 

Whether you're an expert photographer, a complete newbie, or somewhere in between, coming back from an adventure with beautiful photos is always a plus. Luckily, it's pretty tough to take a bad picture in the fall, depending on where you are.

All of the photos in this piece were taken with my iPhone 5S, but I grabbed an Olympus Tough last year in order to start taking better pictures without adding too much weight to my pack. Between that and my favorite desktop applications, Paint.net for amateur photography editing, I've been able to capture some pretty memorable shots without a lot of work Thanks, Mother Nature! If you're not into photography, you can always just sit back, enjoy the beauty of fall, and use your mind's eye to take pictures!

There are so many reasons why adventuring is awesome in the fall. What are your favorite things to do to welcome the season? What are your favorite fall hikes?