Last Updated on October 31, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster
This post about fall hiking tips for beginners is sponsored by Best Buy. All opinions are my own.
I have hiked a lot of trails over the years and the best season to hike in is definitely FALL! As beautiful as it is, however, fall can be a challenging season for hiking. Learn how to stay safe while hiking in fall by keeping in mind a few of these tips.
Important Fall Hiking Tips for Beginners
If you are new to the outdoor life, keep in mind that hiking in the fall poses a few unique challenges. While it is a beautiful time of year to go for a hike, you need to stay safe, comfortable, and uninjured! Check out my post on hiking tips for women and then follow some of the advice listed below as well.
- Be mindful of hunters. Fall is one of the busiest seasons for hunters. Wear brightly colored shirts or a nice, orange hat.
- Pack smarter. Choose a variety of hiking clothes (more on that below). Pack plenty of water. Just because it isn't hot, doesn't mean you won't get dehydrated. Throw in a solar blanket in case of emergency.
- Choose your destination wisely. Keep in mind that higher elevations have snow VERY EARLY. The mountains up in Vermont where my parents live get snow by mid September.
- Keep an eye on the forecast. And not just for the weather at the start of your hike. If you are going UP, check the conditions on the mountain.
- Trust your gut. You will learn as you go that a hiker's instinct is important. Never ignore it.
What should I wear to a fall hike?
Hiking in the fall can be challenging when it comes to choosing the best hiking clothes. Mornings are cool. In fact, they may be downright COLD. However, temperatures rise by mid day and your wool sweater may get way too hot to keep on.
Can you wear jeans hiking? You can, however, they aren't my first choice. Look for hiking pants that zip off at the knee. They are looser and less irritating than jeans and if you get too hot, you can unzip the bottom and turn them into shorts.
Like these fall hiking tips for beginners? Read these hiking and camping tips, too:
- How to Prepare for a Camping Trip to Stay Safe and Have Fun
- Camping Tips for Beginners that Will Make Your Outdoor Experience FUN!
- Happiness in Middle Age means Mountains and Motorcycles!
Hiking Clothing Suggestions
Should you wear leggings hiking? Honestly, I wouldn't. While you think they may be comfortable, they are mostly made of cotton that will just absorb sweat and stay wet. When choosing your fall hiking outfit, think LAYERS. If you are hiking on a budget, give a few of these hiking gift ideas to friends and family this fall.
- A smartwool base layer or similar hiking shirt will keep sweat off your skin.
- Wool sweaters were my favorite choice for cool weather hiking when I was in the Outing Club in college.
- A gortex hat will keep heat from escaping off the top of your head and is easy to pack in your backpack when the weather warms up.
- Bring thin hiking gloves to keep your hands warm and take them off once the sun is high in the sky.
More Hiking Essentials for Fun and Safety
Don't go hiking without the proper gear. Wild things live in the woods and they know if way better than you do. Find hiking trails that fit your experience level. Here are some hiking essentials to pack:
- Map and compass: Carry a detailed map and hiking compass. GPS units and smartphones break, lose signal, etc.
- Water bottle: Stay hydrated on your fall hike, even if you don't seem to be obviously sweating. Unless you are in a life or death emergency, don't drink stream water. It is LOADED with disease causing microbes. Bring a filtered water bottle and water purification tablets.
- Nutrition: Pack snacks. Hiking is hard work! Think high protein, high carb, and portable. If you are hiking with teens or children, they will need a lot of snacks. Let them carry their own food!
- Light weight rain gear for hiking: Weather changes very quickly in the mountains. Hiking while wet is miserable. Bring a light rain jacket for hiking that can be easily folded up or stuffed into your pack.
- First aid kit: This should be a hiking essential year round. Make sure you have a useful first aid kit. Not just a few band-aids and alcohol wipes. Invest in a first aid kit for hiking that will really help in an emergency.
- Tools: An outdoor multi-tool is absolutely vital out in the woods. Add a roll of Duct Tape to your pack as well. Duct tape can fix a lot of things while camping and hiking.
- Headlamp: Days are short in the fall and nights come quickly. A light source is vital if you get caught in the woods after dark.
- Sun protection: Shield your eyes from the sun and protect your skin from UV rays. The sun is strong on top of the mountain.
- The right electronics: Make sure you invest in a protective cell phone case, wireless and waterproof headphones, and maybe even a smart watch or fitness tracker. Protect electronics from damage and use them wisely to make sure they don't get damaged.
The Best Headphones for Hiking
Looking for hiking headphones? Be selective! Wearing headphones while working out poses challenges when it comes to safety and reliability. Hiking headphones need to stand up to weather, sweat and physical wear and tear.
The JLab #1 True Wireless Air Family of headphones really deliver on sound, quality and comfort. They get 6 hours of use on one charge, so you can make it for miles listening to your favorite podcast or mindfulness meditation sessions! The Bluetooth interface enables simple wireless pairing with your Bluetooth-enabled device.
Since they are sweat proof, you can easily wear these headphones while working out. And you know that you are going to sweat on the trail in fall. Because inevitably the weather man will be wrong and you won't need that base clothing layer at all!
The in ear design means that these headphones are great for hiking. No slipping and no wires getting tangled on tree branches. The stereo sound is crisp and clean, delivering high quality tones right to your ear.
Hike Safely and Have Fun!
Do not hike alone, or at the bare minimum, make sure you tell someone exactly which hiking trails you will be on. That way, if you get lost or hurt, someone knows where to look for you. If you want to be hiking at 50, don't get eaten by a bear in your 30's.
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.