Another summer has come and gone but that doesn’t mean you have to be stuck inside, especially if you live in the Midwest, surrounded by miles and miles of beautiful landscapes. Before the snow settles in, get out and enjoy one of the most spectacular times of the year…fall.
Whether as a family activity, a solo retreat into nature, or a way to reconnect with your significant other, hiking the Midwest in the fall is a great way to get active, get back to nature, and enjoy the natural beauty this part of the country has to offer. If you’re ready to get away for a day or the weekend, check out some of the most scenic midwest hikes for the fall (that are also beautiful all year round).
Best Midwest Hikes for the Fall
Brown County State Park: Nashville, Indiana
Brown County State Park is the perfect place for a fall hike and is a traditional fall getaway for locals. With nearly 20-miles of tree-lined roads and many scenic vistas overlooking miles of uninterrupted forestland, it’s the perfect place to view the changing colors. Take in beautiful fall foliage on an easy two mile trail that passes some of the largest trees in the park.
Nicknamed the “Little Smokies” because of the area’s resemblance to the Great Smoky Mountains, Brown County State Park encompasses nearly 16,000-acres of rugged hills, ridges, and fog-shrouded ravines.
Rocky River Reservation Trails: North Olmsted, OH
The Rocky River Reservation has a total of 13.6 miles of trails perfect for walking, skating, or biking. Long and narrow, this reservation follows the winding course of the Rocky River from Berea almost to Lake Erie. The stream cuts deeply through the soft shales of the valley, carving a picturesque gorge.
Views of massive shale cliffs rising above willows, meadows and wetlands, and the changing fall colors of the sycamores make this park a a year-round oasis.
Lighthouse Park, Old Mission Point Park: Traverse City, MI
Old Mission Park and Lighthouse Park sit on 650 acres at the 45th parallel in Michigan (the halfway point between the equator and the North Pole). A combined ten miles of trails pass the Historic Mission Point Lighthouse and overlook Traverse Bay. Three trailheads serve the interconnecting trails. Hike varying terrain types or stroll through cherry orchards and vineyards. This a must-see for Lighthouse lovers.
Mohican State Park: Loudonville, Ohio:
Camp stream side to truly connect with the outdoors or enjoy modern campgrounds with the family at Mohican State Park in Ohio. This wild landscape offers stunning views from both land and water. Lyon's Falls, the Mohican State Scenic River, and Clear Fork Gorge (forged by melting glaciers) are just a few of the must-sees for adventurers.
Escarpment Trail (Porcupine Mountain State Park) MI
Escarpment Trail is the crowning jewel of trails not only in the Porkies but in all of Michigan and possibly in the Midwest. According to their site, “The Escarpment combines a high rocky bluff and alpine-like vistas with views of the parks rugged interior, Upper Carp River Valley and, of course, the center piece of the park; Lake of Clouds. Unlike the tourists who simply drive to the overlook and look down, the Escarpment Trail provides you with view of the famous lake from several different angles.” There are more than 90 miles of hiking trails and the view of the Lake Superior Shoreline is unrivaled.
Rosy Mound Natural Area: Grand Haven, MI
Rosy Mound Natural Area in Grand Haven, Michigan is beautiful all year long but you don’t want to miss it in the fall. Here you can wander along dunes, check out views of Lake Michigan, and admire the fall foliage. If your interests extend beyond hiking, they have kayaking, fishing, and biking.
Port Crescent State Park Trails: Port Austin, MI
Northern Michigan isn’t the only area in the state that can boast great views and miles of beautiful shoreline…it is a peninsula with thousands of inland lakes, after all. For a great family trip, head to Michigan’s thumb and explore the Saginaw Bay shoreline.
In fact, October is one of the best times to visit Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin. There are fewer campers and the fall colors reach their brilliant peak. Hike
three miles of sandy shoreline or kayak by Turnip Rock, one of Michigan’s most famous spots.
The park also offers fishing, canoeing, hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and hunting.
Mackinac Island Trails: Mackinac Island, MI
We can’t mention hiking in the Midwest or Michigan without mentioning Mackinac Island.
One of Michigan’s most favorite spots, this island isn’t just famous for its fudge. Mackinac Island boasts over 140 miles of trails and roads leading to amazing views of the shoreline. Or, you can venture deeper inland where there are several trails that lead to great views of the changing reds, yellows, and oranges of the trees.
White Pines Forest State Park: Mount Morris, IL
White Pines Forest State Park is 385-acres on the south boundary of the historic Chicago-Iowa Trail.
This park is the perfect place for families to enjoy hiking, fishing, camping and picnicking. Hike along the meandering banks of Spring and Pine creeks, and take in magnificent trees that share moss-covered cliffs, strung with trailing vines.
One unique feature of this park are the concrete fords that span the creeks, allowing visitors to drive through the flowing streams, with an accessible path leading to the stream bank for wildlife watching and fishing.
Versailles State Park: Versailles, IN
Some people have a thing for covered bridges. If that’s you, check out Versailles State Park. On a 2.3 mile trek through this state park, you'll get an awesome view of limestone sinkholes, gorgeous trees, and the Busching Covered Bridge.
This area has deep history rooted in both the Civil War and the Civilian Conservation Corps.
So there you have it. If you’re itching to get away and take in some breathtaking fall scenery, these are the places to go. Winter is hard in the Midwest but the summer and fall more than make up for it, so make you get out and take it all in.
Before you strap on your hiking boots, make sure they can support all your adventures by grabbing some Orange Insoles!