Fall hiking is one of my favorite things to do. Here are 7 tips to help you enjoy your hiking trips with your kids in the Rocky Mountains during this brief, glorious time of year.
It may be cooling off outside and the kids are busy with school and activities, but don’t forget about hiking. During this brief spell between the summer heat and the winter cold the mountains are undergoing major changes, like fall colors. These tips will help you enjoy hiking with your kids before there is too much snow on the trails.
Dress in Layers
The temperature and weather can change quickly when fall hiking. I always bring several layers of clothes, both for myself and the kids. Maybe a non cotton shirt, a fleece, and a winter jacket.
If you get hot when you are hiking it is easy to remove the fleece and jacket. Then when you stop you can put them back on to warm up.
Always Be Prepared – Pack Winter Jackets and Hats
During the fall time, in addition to my usual hiking essentials (rain gear, water, snacks, fire starter) I always bring our winter jackets and hats. Make sure you bring them even if the day seems sunny and warm when you are packing and leaving your house. Those warm clothes may be the difference between a fun day in the mountains and a miserable or even dangerous one.
Pick The Right Trails For Fall Hiking
Some of my favorite trails to hike in the fall are ones that pass through some forest that is full of trees changing colors. Try to find trails that would have lots of deciduous trees. Read this for tips on finding good trails.
Or if you are past the fall colors, look for trails that may be south facing and therefore receive a lot of sunlight. The snow will melt much faster on trails that are not shady and face south. Additionally, if it is a cool day, those trails that receive a lot of sunlight will just be warmer and more enjoyable.
Check the Latest Trail Conditions
It is always a good idea to check the latest trail conditions before taking a hike in the Rocky Mountains. In the fall some trails may become covered with snow early due to a early season snow storm. You can try talking to others that have hiked there recently or look online for info about the trails or you can even contact the Forest Service and ask them.
Other trails may have had snow on them a few weeks ago, but since they receive a lot of sun the snow may have melted off. Or the trails may simply be super muddy and not a lot of fun with kids (although I guess that depends on your point of view!).
Watch The Weather Forecast
Conditions can change quickly at anytime of the year in the mountains, but especially so during the fall. If you are out hiking with your kids in the Rocky Mountains you do not want to get caught miles from the trailhead in a snowstorm. It is better to check the forecast ahead of time and if you know bad weather is coming either postpone your hike or do a much shorter one.
Plan Your Fall Hiking During Right Time Of The Day
During the summertime it is never fun to go for a long hike in the middle of a day because you will be so hot. I love early morning or evening hikes in the summer. But, during the fall the best time to go hiking is during the middle of the day. The nights tend to get quite cold during the fall, so it will take some time to warm up in the morning. Likewise, it may begin to cool off in late afternoon.
Also, remember in fall the sun sets earlier so you will have less daylight than summer.
Watch Out For Hunters
Fall is a great time to go hiking, but it also a prime time for hunters. Make sure you know if the area you are going for a hike is open or closed to hunting. If it is open for hunters, you can still go enjoy yourself just be aware hunters may be in the area. Stick to the main trails and wear bright colors so that hunters can see you.