The Best Fall Hikes to See Larch Trees

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One of the best things about fall hikes is the opportunity to see larch trees. Check out our hiking guide of where you can see them in all their golden glory in Canada and the U.S.

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Golden Fall Hikes

For a few short weeks, every year hikers are given the opportunity to bask in the golden glow of larches. As they turn from green to gold, right before they shed their needles, they create a beautiful wash of colour that leaves you in awe. Seeing the larch trees in their golden glory is one of the reasons why you should try a fall hike.

What is a Larch Tree?

Larches are coniferous trees with distinct features. Unlike other trees they have “needles” rather than leaves. These needles grow in small clusters with multiple clusters on each branch. There are two distinct types of larch trees, the Western Larch, which grows in a triangular shape with a narrow crown, and the Subalpine Larch with its wide spread branches. By looking at the shape of the larch in question it is quite easy to tell them apart.

When and Where You Can See Larch Trees

From mid-September to October the landscape starts to change and with it, so do the larch trees. They are typically found in mountaineous areas and you are most likely to come across them in the Northern U.S and most of Canada.

If you are looking for the perfect fall hikes to see larches look no further. Here are some great fall hikes recommended by travel bloggers:

Fall Hikes in Alberta, Canada

Chester Lake

By Brianna of Curious Travel Bug

Larch Trees in Chester Lake Alberta Canada, the perfect Fall hike
Photo Courtesy of Brianna of Curious Travel Bug

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 9.2km (5.7 miles)

Duration: +- 4 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep – early Oct

Chester Lake is a great easy hike to see larch trees during the fall as the lake at the end of the hike is surrounded by beautiful yellow larch. The hike starts off with an uphill section that takes you through a forest before you emerge into a meadow area.

The most challenging part of the hike is the beginning as you do gain 300 m (985 ft) of elevation but the climb is gradual so there are no steep areas to hike. After the initial climb, the trail flattens out to an alpine meadow dotted with larches. It’s a very well maintained trail that is quite wide and is dog-friendly.

After hiking through the meadow, you are rewarded with a scenic lake set under Mount Chester. There are fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains on this fall hike as well as lots of brightly coloured trees. The hike to Chester Lake is 9.2 km (5.7 miles) out-and-back that takes around 4 hours in total.

You could do it faster but you should give yourself some time to explore around the lake. While it is pretty during fall, it’s also a great year-round hiking destination to enjoy the meadow and lake. If you do want to view larch trees, you should visit from mid-September to the beginning of October.
Chester Lake is located in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country on highway 742.

It’s not far from the town Canmore in the Rocky Mountains. Being just outside of Banff, it has the advantage of having fewer visitors and being free to park and hike.

Where to Stay Near Chester Lake

Mount Engadine Lodge

Located in Spray Valley Provincial Park, the Mount Engadin Lodge is the perfect base for exploring your surroundings. The lodge offers great views and wonderfully comfortable accommodations. There are an onsite bar and restaurant as well as a sauna and a massage service. Enjoy the perfect mountain accommodation at any time of the year.

Haven in Rockies

Enjoy great mountain views from the Haven in Rockies. It includes everything from a cosy bedroom, great living area with a fireplace and a fully equipped kitchen for all your needs. As a guest, you will also have access to the indoor pool, waterslide and hot tub. It is the perfect stress-free place to stay while you explore the excellent surroundings.

Related Reading: 7 Best Places To See Wildlife In Banff National Park

Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country

By: Routinely Nomadic

The golden Larch trees are a great reason to get out and hike this Fall.
Photo Courtesy of Routinely Nomadic

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 8km (5 miles)

Duration: 4-5 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid September

There are few places more placidly beautiful in Kananaskis Country than stunning Rawson Lake on a sunny, calm morning. The flat, glassy surface provides perfect reflections of imposing Sarrail Ridge and, in fall, of the vibrant, yellow larch trees that surround the lake. Unlike other top larch destinations like amazing Glacier National Park, as long as you get there before 9 am you are likely to have the place completely to yourself.

At most, you will share the serene beauty of this magnificently located alpine lake with a couple of eager fishermen quietly casting their line out into the spectacularly clear water. Any time of year, this hike offers one of the best scenery-to-effort ratios in the area but, starting in mid-September, the dynamic larch leaves make Rawson Lake an absolute must-see.


The medium difficulty out and back fall hike is about 8 km (5 miles) in total with around 400 meters (1,300 ft) of elevation gain, making it an easy 2-3 hour jaunt for most people. Of course, you’ll want to leave yourself some extra time to enjoy the wonderful surroundings of the lake itself.

Energetic types can add on another 3 km (2 miles) and 270 meters (850 ft) of elevation gain by climbing to the top of extraordinary Sarrail Ridge, where you’ll be treated to incredible views of the entire area from above. This perfect fall hike starts at the parking lot at Upper Kananaskis Lake, another terrific place to spend some time.

Where to Stay near Rawson Lake

Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Autograph Collection

This luxurious hotel is the perfect place to relax after you explore the amazing outdoor activities in the area. The hotel offers a full-service spa and an indoor heated pool. The rooms offer you amazing views from bay windows and are fully equipped. The Kananaskis Mountain Lodge offers you the perfect place to escape and enjoy the best that the area has to offer.

Spacious Canmore Mountain Home

Located in a peaceful area near the Bow River, this spacious mountain home is a great place to spend an extended trip in Canmore. It is close to an extensive trail system, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore the area. The living area has everything you need for a comfortable stay and there is even heated underground parking for the colder part of the year.

Luxury Condo with Mountain Views

Take a break and stay in a luxury condo with mountain views. Perfectly located in Canmore, you will have plenty of activities near you. Take advantage of a comfortable interior with a fully equipped kitchen and the perfect dining area. You even have access to the hot tub.

Related Reading: Georgian Bay Islands NP: why you need to visit this part of Canada

Pocaterra Ridge Hike, Kananaskis Country

By Daisy of Beyond my Border

Larch trees are a great sight on a fall hike. It's something you have to experience at least once.
Larch season in full swing

Difficulty: Difficult

Length: 12km (7.45 miles)

Duration: 6-7 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid to late September

Pocaterra Ridge is one of the most stunning trails in Kananaskis. Although the hike is quite lengthy, the view on top of the summit, which overlooks rolling mountains and vast hills, is one not to be missed.

Park your car at Highwood Pass parking lot and head into the meadow on foot. The Ridge is full of paths that are lush, vibrant, and breathtaking. Follow the most used path through the lively trees, which will take you to Pocaterra Creek. During the fall season, the creek will be surrounded by a canvas of yellows and oranges.

Follow the bright red/yellow tapes on the tree to cross the creek, and head uphill into the dense forest. Once you hike up the elevation and onto the first plateau, you will witness a sea of larch trees with brilliant colours during autumn.

You can cut the journey short and relax at the nearby Elbow Lake, turn back to the parking lot, or continue onwards into the larch forest. The walk through the forest is a mesmerising experience. During September, the larch needles turn a brilliant yellow and are practically inviting you into a fantasy world.

Needless to say, Pocaterra Ridge is a must-visit when on the West Coast, and is definitely one of the most instagrammable places in Banff.  The hike starts and ends at Highwood Pass parking lot, along Highway 40.

Where to Stay in Kananaskis Country

Banff Gate Mountain Resort

The Banff Gate Mountain Resort offers you the perfect luxurious stay to explore your surroundings. Offering a fireplace, balcony and fantastic mountain views in each cottage this is the perfect mountain accommodation. Spend your days hiking and come back to a comfortable cottage that has a seating area, kitchen and warm decor that will make you feel at home.

Luxury Condo with Mountain Views

Take a break and stay in a luxury condo with mountain views. Perfectly located in Canmore, you will have plenty of activities near you. Take advantage of a comfortable interior with a fully equipped kitchen and the perfect dining area. You even have access to the hot tub.

Spacious Canmore Mountain Home

Located in a peaceful area near the Bow River, this spacious mountain home is a great place to spend an extended trip in Canmore. It is close to an extensive trail system, perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who want to explore the area. The living area has everything you need for a comfortable stay and there is even heated underground parking for the colder part of the year.

Sentinel Pass, Lake Louise Area in Banff National Park

By: Lora Pope, Explore With Lora

Larch Trees turn the landscape golden in autumn
Larch Trees on a Fall Hike

Difficulty: Difficult

Length: 5.8km one-way (3.6 miles)

Duration: 4.5 to 5.5 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid to late September

The peak season to see larches in Banff National Park is from mid to late September when fall is in full swing and the larch needles are a vibrant shade of golden yellow.

The Sentinel Hill trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in Banff National Park. The hike starts off at world-famous Moraine Lake which is a stunning shade of blue. This perfect fall hike then heads up through a forest with native larch trees that are magnificent to see during the fall when they are a beautiful shade of golden yellow.

The trail climbs steadily uphill through the trees with a series of switchbacks, before emerging into a meadow with three lakes. The last climb to the top of Sentinel Pass is very tough, but you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

While the best time to do this hike is during the fall when the larch trees are at their peak colour, it is still worth doing other times of the year as the mountain views are always magnificent. 

The trailhead starts just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Parking is very limited at the Moraine Lake parking lot so it is recommended to get there very early or take a paid shuttle to the parking lot, which is available from Lake Louise Village.

Where to Stay in Lake Louise

Lake Louise Inn

Located near Lake Louise, the Lake Louise Inn offers you comfort and luxury that is perfect for your trip to this amazing area. The Inn offers a heated indoor pool, hot tubs and two onsite restaurants. The rooms have great views of the mountains and some of the suites and apartments include a balcony and fireplace.

Glacier Lily Guesthouse

Located in Field, the Glacier Lily Guesthouse offers you every comfort of home. With its great location, stunning setting and perfect interior, there is little more you can expect from this perfect place. Enjoy an equipped kitchen for all your meals and the additions of board games and playing cards for when you want to stay in.

Related Reading: Things to Do in Yoho National Park: Why You Should Visit this Canadian Gem

Larch Valley Hike, Banff National Park

By: Campbell and Alya from Stingy Nomads

Take a Fall Hike and experience the golden season yourself.
Photo Courtesy of Stingy Nomads

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 8.6km (5.4 miles) return

Duration: 3.5 – 4 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep – Oct

The Larch Valley hike starting from Moraine Lake is one of the most popular fall hikes in Banff National Park. Moraine Lake is a spectacular, turquoise, glacial lake 14 kilometres outside the Village of Lake Louise and can easily be reached by the Roam public transport system from the village or by bus from Banff.

The trail meanders through the beautiful larch forest revealing fantastic views of the surrounding Ten Peaks. For a more challenging hike, the Larch Valley trail can be combined with climbing Sentinel Pass and hiking to Eiffel Lake for a 19km (12 miles) total route.

The Larch Valley trail starts off at Moraine lake, as you climb the mountain you see more and more larch trees until you are surrounded by a larch tree forest in the Larch Valley. Most people finish the Larch Valley hike at the base of Mount Temple and Mount Pinnacle at the tarn lake.

Usually, the larch tree needles turn from green to lime to a brilliant golden yellow colour before they fall to the ground in winter from around mid-September. Hiking here in October the snow, golden trees and foliage makes for spectacular scenery.

This hike can get extremely busy in season, especially over weekends, so going a bit later you can avoid the crowds and still catch the golden larch trees. It is a great hike to do in summer with plenty of beautiful wildflowers in July, there are grizzlies in the area this time of the year, so hike in groups. Late in autumn wear microspikes as the trail can get extremely icy and slippery.

Where to Stay Near Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake Lodge

Located in Banff National Park the Moraine Lake Lodge is perfect for hikers and those that enjoy the outdoors. The rooms have a cabin feel and are furnished with hand-crafted items that add to the wonderful atmosphere. Enjoy the views of Moraine Lake from your private balcony. This is the perfect stay in every season.

Glacier Lily Guesthouse

Located in Field, the Glacier Lily Guesthouse offers you every comfort of home. With its great location, stunning setting and perfect interior, there is little more you can expect from this perfect place. Enjoy an equipped kitchen for all your meals and the additions of board games and playing cards for when you want to stay in.

Airstream Glamping in the Rockies

Try something completely different with this Airstream Glamping experience. Book your own campsite in Banff and the airstream will be towed to where you need it and prepared to give you an experience of a lifetime. The airstream is fully equipped with solar panels, kitchen equipment and everything else you would need. All you need is food and clothes and you are ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

Related Reading: 7 Best Mount Rainier Hiking Trails To Explore

Fall Hike in Ontario, Canada

Nokomis Trail, Lake Superior

By: Lindsay Davies from I’ve Been Bit!

Larch Trees on the Nokomis Trail near Lake Superior, Canada.
Photo Courtesy of I’ve Been Bit!

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 4.3km (2.7 miles)

Duration: 2 – 3 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep – early Oct

Canada is beautiful in any season but it’s absolutely magical in the fall, especially in my home province. There are so many things to do in Ontario in the fall! While many head to Algonquin Provincial Park, you can beat the crowds by heading north to Lake Superior Provincial Park.

If you’ve visited in the summer, chances are you’ve been to Old Woman Bay but I recommend a fall visit, especially for fall hikes. Here you’ll find the Nokomis Trail, referencing the grandmother Nanabozho, a legend from the local Indigenous culture of the area.

You’ll see hints of gold as you pull into the parking lot but the real treat is at the top of the Nokomis Trail. This fall hike will take some finesse as you’re climbing 178 metres (584 feet) in elevation, but it’s worth every step and stumble.

Just 30 minutes into the hike and you’ll get a taste of the incredible views of Lake Superior you’ll be treated to on this trek. While these views are beautiful in the summer as well, the bursts of colour that come with the changing larch trees make it extra magical!

Old Woman Bay is magnificent from the beach. But to see the 200 metres (656 foot) cliff face from a birds-eye view makes you truly appreciate its natural beauty.

The big question is – can you spot the woman’s face immortalized within the rock? To get to the Nokomis Trail follow the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 17) until you see signs for Old Woman Bay. Park at the parking lot here and cross the highway to get to the trailhead

Where to Stay Near Old Woman Bay

 Mystic Isle Motel 

Located near Lake Superior and offering you perfect views, the Mystic Isle Motel is a great place to stay. This motel offers you simple and comfortable accommodation which is perfect if you want to explore your surroundings. With its rustic decor and cabin style rooms, you’ll feel right at home. Each of the rooms also has a coffee machine and mini-fridge for your convenience.

Long Beach Bed and Breakfast

With stunning views, the Long Beach Bed and Breakfast is a great choice to stay at. The property is a two-story log home which has a rustic and cosy feel. This accommodation is perfect if you want to explore the shoreline. Be treated to the best sunsets each evening.

Related Reading: Hikes Near Seattle that You Just Have to Try

Fall Hikes in British Columbia, Canada

Brewer Creek

The hike at Brewer Creek is perfect during autumn
Brewer Creek Larches

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 11.5km (7.1 miles)

Duration: 5 – 7 hours

Best Time to Visit: Late September

Brewer Creek is a hike that you will want to do more than once. This is a great all-year hike but during fall this hike really shines, almost literally in fact. A fall hike here brings you up close to the radiant and colourful larch trees which in late September are perfect hues of gold and orange. 

In the first few miles you can expect to get in some good elevation before you get to one of the many tarns. Once you pass into the open meadow you’ll have a glimpse at the beautiful views that you can expect on the rest of the trail. From here it is highly recommended to head to the top of Mount Brewer.

The view of larch trees in all their glory from here is the star of this fall hike. It is nothing short of breathtaking. The trail might offer you sunshine, but make sure to dress warmly as the weather has been known to change at a whim. Make sure to bring a jacket and gloves. 

From Invermere, head out on Westside road to Hawk road. Take a right when you see the Hoodoo kiosk and continue on. At the fork in the road go straight and carry on until you see the Brewer Creek Sign. The road is rough in some places so make sure to come with a vehicle capable of hitting a dirt road. 

Where to Stay in Invermere

Deere Ridge Cabins

Spend a few nights at the Deere Ridge Cabins for the perfect addition to your fall hike. Each cottage has a private hot tub, a kitchenette and a private patio where you can relax. These wonderful cabins are pet-friendly and perfectly located to enjoy the best that the area has to offer.

Luxury Condo on Lake Windermere

With great views from your balcony and a perfect touch of luxury in the interior, this condo is a great pick. If you are looking for something more modern and comfortable with great amenities but that is still close to the best of outdoor activities in the area, then this is a great choice. It is big enough for up to 6 which makes it great for families too.

Jumbo Pass, Central Kootenay

Larch trees can be seen when hiking up to Jumbo Pass in Kootenay
Larch Trees as seen from Jumbo Pass

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 10.7km (6.6 miles)

Duration: 4 – 4.5 hours

Best Time to Visit: early Sep to early Oct

Jumbo Pass is a spectacular hike that can be down from May to October and offers you beautiful wildflower fields in summer and kaleidoscope larch trees in autumn. This fall hike is the perfect moderate activity that offers you the most amazing views. 

There are two trailheads that lead up to Jumbo Pass, They are roughly the same distance and difficulty. You can choose to hike from the Invermere side where you will climb up the ridge, follow a wonderful brook and finally reach the summit to take in the most spectacular views from the Jumbo cabin. 

Or you can choose to start from the Glacier Creek Trailhead FSR. From here you will steadily climb through forest and finally come to wide-open meadows and the ridge that takes you to Jumbo Pass. The views may not be much while in the forest, but once you catch the first glimpse of the golden larches and surrounding peaks, it’s nothing short of breathtaking. 

Once you make it to the cabin, take a short detour towards the northern ridge for more views. It’s the perfect place to stop for a snack and enjoy the peace that only a mountain top can give you. 

Make your way down with stunning larches before you, the views are definitely worth it as you finish your trek. To get to the Glacier Creek Trailhead head from Kaslo, head north on Highway 31N towards Duncan Lake. Turn right on Argenta Road and continue straight at the junction. Turn right and ascend onto Duncan Glacier Creek FSR and proceed straight at the fork. Continue on and turn right just after the bridge. 

Where to Stay Near Kaslo

The Sentinel

Located on Kootenay Lake, the Sentinel is the perfect lodge to escape to for nature and relaxation. Enjoy a garden and great views of the lake and Mount Loki during your stay. There is a terrace where guests can lounge and each unit offers a seating and dining area. Some units also include a balcony or patio with views.

Sunrise Cabin Kaslo Kootenay Lake

Enjoy peace and quiet at the Sunrise Cabin. The cabin sits in the middle of a forest near the Kaslo trail system and offers you rustic and comfortable accommodation. With everything you need from a kitchen to cosy sleeping area, this is a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty of the area.

Fall Hike in Maine, U.S.

Chimney Pond Trail, Baxter State Park

Golden larch trees in September
Golden foliage on a fall hike

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 10.1km (6.2 miles) out and back

Duration: 3.5 – 4 hours

Best Time to Visit: Early Sep to early Oct

Chimney Pond is an excellent day hike in Baxter State Park and affords you terrific views. The trail is accessible from May to October and offers something different in each season. It makes for a great fall hike as the views are a stunning wash of greens, golds and oranges from the many larch trees and other foliage. 

Starting at the Roaring Brook Campground you make your way up the Roaring Brook trail. The trail is well-maintained and marked. As you move along, you’ll come closer to Mount Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine. You will pass Basin Lake, the first lake on this fall hike and a good place to stop if you have the time. 

While on the trail make sure to keep an eye out for hidden lookout points, there are some wonderful opportunities to view larch trees in all their autumn glory. The trail is in great shape but rocky in some places so make sure to wear good hiking boots. 

With perfect views of the North Maine Woods and Mount Katahdin, you will love the trail all the way to its end at the Chimney Pond Campground. To get there from Millinocket take Millinocket road which leads onto Millinocket Lake road and then onto Baxter Park road. Continue on Baxter Park road until you reach Roaring Brook campground. 

Where to Stay in Millinocket

Baxter Park Inn

The Baxter Park Inn is located in Millinocket and is the perfect place to stay while exploring the area. The inn offers a daily breakfast, an indoor pool and an onsite fitness centre. Enjoy a perfect stay near Baxter State Park.

Lakefront cabin, close to Baxter SP

The Lakefront cabin is the perfect place to spend some time. With its comfortable accommodations and great amenities, you can spend more than a few nights here. And its located close to Baxter State Park which is perfect to explore all the best hikes in the area. The cabin also has its own private dock so you can relax and get in some fishing in your free time.

Fall Hike in Montana, U.S.

Northwest Peak

Fall hikes are the perfect time to see larch trees
A kaleidoscope of colour on the perfect fall hike.

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 3.9km (4.4 miles) out and back

Duration: 2.5 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep to Oct

Probably the easiest hike in the northwest corner of Montana, the Northwest Peak is a great fall hike. It sits at 7,706 feet making this the perfect summit to view golden larch trees. The view you find at the top of this short climb is nothing short of wondrous. It is a perfect pairing of Hawkins lakes and beautiful larch parkland. I recommend spending some time on the summit just to soak in the perfect views.

The summit is reached by a long drive and a short 4.4 mile out and back hike. Make sure to wear good shoes as you will have to traverse a quarter-mile of talus just before the summit. This is the only challenging part of the trail. Once you’ve made your way past the shrubs and up across the granite-stacked meadows, you’ll find yourself in a hikers paradise. 

Make your way to the old fire lookout where you can spend a few minutes admiring your surroundings. This is a great fall hike for those that prefer solitude. You’ll even get to make a stop, if you have to, at Montana’s highest toilets. This is a great hike in fall but can also be done in the summer when conditions are good. 

To get there you will have to drive west from Yaak River Road for 2 miles just past mile marker 27, to Pete Creek Road. follow the road until you get to West Fork Road where you will turn left. Continue on and turn right onto Winkum Creek Road to stay on the FR338. You can use the pullout on the right shoulder as parking.

Where to Stay Near Northwest Peak

Grouse Mountain Lodge

Stay in true Montana style at the Grouse Mountain Lodge. The lodge offers you a free shuttle to downtown Whitefish for you to explore. The rooms are inspired by traditional log cabins and offer you warm and comfortable decor as well as a small refrigerator. Enjoy a full day of hiking and come back to make use of the outdoor firepit or even the indoor pool and dry sauna.

Yaak River Base Camp Private Cabin

Enjoy the perfect getaway at the Yaak River Private Cabin. It offers more than enough room and everything you need, all in the perfect secluded spot. It is the perfect place to stay if you are looking for trails to explore. Adventure is right around the corner at this cabin.

Fall Hike in Oregon, U.S.

Fret Creek Trail, Badger Creek Wilderness

Golden beauty of larches on a fall hike
Golden larch trees

Difficulty: Medium

Length: 7.7km (4.8 miles) out and back

Duration: 2 – 3 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep to early Oct

At the start of this hike you’ll find yourself engulfed by huckleberry bushes, and if you’re hiking in the right season you can treat yourself to these amazing berries while you hike. As you continue on you are likely to encounter some blowdown that you will have to maneuver over. It’s quite common to have blowdowns on the trail considering Oregon’s unpredictable weather. 

Make your way past Fret Creek and enjoy the golden larches around you as you continue on to Oval Lake. The lake is much more of a large pond to be honest but during the fall it is surrounded by wonderful larch trees which create a field of gold. 

From here it’s a quick incline to Palisade Point where you can look down at the golden larches in their kaleidoscope glory. Although the trail can be hiked from early May, it really does make for a perfect fall hike. You’ll be able to enjoy the golden larches until the end of October, but be wary of the weather at this time, it can get pretty icy. 

This trail is dog friendly too and a great workout as you will be hiking up an incline for much of the trail. If you’ve got the energy, make a detour onto the divine trail where you can make your way up to Lookout Mountain or Flag Point. 

To get to the trailhead take NF-44 off of Highway 35. Take a right onto NF-4420 and continue on to the Fifteen Mile Creek campground. The trail is just a couple hundred feet from the campground. 

Where to Stay Near Badger Creek Wilderness

Timberline Lodge

The Timberline Lodge is located deep in Mount Hood National Forest and offers a sauna, a heated outdoor pool and beautiful rooms. This lodge is the perfect place to rest after exploring the wonderful hikes in the area. The rooms are rustic and offer original handcrafted furnishings that make the rooms the perfect place to relax.

Cozy Loft in Hood River

Just a few minutes walk from downtown Hood River, this cosy loft offers you a great place to rest after a long day of exploring your surroundings. Enjoy all the essentials and more at the loft. The hosts supply you with all the information you need to explore the area making it a great pick for first-time visitors.

Fall Hikes in Washington State, U.S

Blue Lake, North Cascades

By: Rachel & Clark from Seeking our Someday

Golden Larches seen at Blue Lake Cascades, Washington
Photo Courtesy of Seeking our Someday

Difficulty: Medium

Length: km 7.1km (4.4 miles) return

Duration: 2.5 hours

Best Time to Visit: Early to Mid October

Blue Lake is located on one of the most scenic drives in the United States, Highway 20. This beautiful road winds past lakes and mountains through North Cascades National Park in Northern Washington.

The North Cascades are well known for larches in early-October through mid-October. But the most beautiful places to view them kept secret but the locals. Blue Lake is one of those secrets. The hike to Blue Lake is a well maintained 7.1 km (4.4 miles) out-and-back trail with 320 m (1050 ft) of elevation gain.

As a moderate hike, it feels much easier with the scenic distractions along the trail. As the larches start to turn a bright golden colour in early-October to mid-October, they can be spotted along the trail about two-thirds of the way to Blue Lake.

At the lake, the entire North facing slope, across from the trail viewpoint is covered with larches with a towering exposed mountain above. Blue Lake, in the North Cascades National Park, is a three-hour drive from Seattle. This makes it a Top Day Trip Destination from Seattle. Keep in mind that the weather in the North Cascades can be extremely variable during larch season. So make sure to bring appropriate layers and shoe traction in case of snow and ice.

The roundtrip hike to Blue Lake takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete. It may take longer depending on how much time is spent at the lake and if you’re brave enough to take the polar plunge into Blue Lake’s icy water. Blue Lake Trailhead is located right off of Highway 20 in the North Cascades, 3 hours Northeast of Seattle, Washington

Where to Stay in Seattle

Warwick Seattle 

Located a short distance from Pike Place Market, the Warwick Seattle has a perfect and central location in Seattle. The hotel offers an indoor pool, whirlpool and a fitness centre. Enjoy spacious rooms, a private balcony and floor to ceiling windows which offer you views over the city. This is a great base to explore Seattle and its many surrounding hikes.

Maple Pass Loop, Northern Cascades National Park

Towering larches
Towering larch trees

Distance: Hard

Length: 11.4km (7.2 miles)

Duration: 3 – 4 hours

Best Time to Visit: Mid Sep to Oct

Probably one of the most famous fall hikes in Washington, the Maple Pass Loop is the perfect opportunity to see larch trees. The hike is great from summer to fall, but to really have the full effect of the beauty that only golden larches can give a landscape, autumn is by far the best season to hike this trail. 

It is recommended that you take this trail counter-clockwise for the best views. The trail starts in the parking lot and slowly makes it’s way up into a forest. As you make your way up you’ll look over Lake Ann and eventually reach Heather Pass. Although at this point the trail can get busy, since there are intersecting trails here, the views are some of the best that you’ll get on this hike. 

Make your way up the ridge to Maple Pass. This is the showstopper of this amazing fall hike. The views up here are amazing and you’ll want to spend a good amount of time up here to really enjoy the scenery around. From larches to wondrous peaks, the work to get up to Maple Pass is worth it. As you make your way down the switchbacks and through the forest, you’re awarded unabated views all around you. 

Towards the end of the hike, the descent is more gradual taking you back to where you started. To get there from Seattle take Highway 20 through Marblemount, towards North Cascades National Park. Stop at the Rainy Pass trailhead. There is space on both sides of the road for you to park your car.

Where to Stay in Winthrop

AbbyCreek Inn

Located in Winthrop, the AbbeyCreek Inn is a great place to stay while exploring this great part of Washington State. The inn offers a seasonal outdoor pool, daily breakfast and comfortable rooms. The property also offers bike rentals.

Mazama Trails Cabin

Close to hiking trails and secluded, the Mazama Trails Cabin is a great choice when exploring the many hikes in the area. The cabin has a rustic charm which provides comfort and the perfect setting to enjoy the outdoors. You won’t find a better place to stay in the area.

These fall hikes are bound to give you the most spectacular view of golden larch trees.

 

 

 

 

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