Cascade Springs Interpretive Trail near Provo, Utah
You don’t have to drive far or hike deep into the forest to get a glimpse of fall’s best treats on the Cascade Springs Interpretive Trail. On the east side of Mount Timpanogos, just off the Alpine Loop Scenic Trail, this paved pathway consists of three loops (two are partially accessible to wheels) that are less than a mile long. Because it’s short, you can take your time admiring the terraced cascades and pools of this artesian spring. Aspens, maples, and oaks burst with color all around you. It’s the perfect route for little legs, strollers, and wheelchairs. Bring your camera or plein air paint set. A $6 recreation pass is required to stop or park.
Kim Williams Nature Trail in Missoula, Montana
Everywhere you look in Montana, you’ll witness autumnal beauty. Colors start changing in mid-September in higher elevations and last through October in lower places. For a leisurely urban exploration that begins in downtown Missoula, take the Kim Williams Nature Trail. The trail is nearly 10 miles round trip, but you don’t have to finish the full route to get a healthy dose of nature. This riparian corridor parallels the Clark Fork River and connects several parks, so you’re guaranteed to spot birds as the trees shed their colorful leaves. This is also a popular path for mountain bikers and dog walkers—and bears frequent the area. Stay alert and keep bear spray easily accessible.
Turtle Rock in Vedauwoo, Wyoming
Only 20 minutes from Laramie are the unique rock formations of Vedauwoo, which means “earth-born” in Arapaho. This is a world-class area for climbing and mountain biking, and the hiking is just as spectacular. Take the easy 2.8-mile loop around Turtle Rock, which follows the outer edges of the iconic Sherman Granite outcropping that looks like the shelled creature from some angles. In the fall, Engleman spruce, Douglas fir, limber pine, and aspen trees provide a vivid backdrop to the already-stunning vistas that moose, beavers, black bears, and birds call home. (Bring bear spray.) Dogs must be leashed and a $5 fee is required to park.