Fall Is Here! Getting Ready for Fall Hiking

The seasons have changed and Fall has arrived! Welcome back to cooler nights, crisp mountain air, and cozy mornings curled up in your sleeping bag. This is our favorite season here in the Pacific Northwest.

The arrival of Fall brings beautifully changing leaves, quieter trails, beautiful views of frost covered vistas, and golden larches. (yes please!) It also means cooler temperatures, fewer hours of daylight, and the arrival of snow at higher elevations.

An alpine lake next to a dirt rock lined trail. Granite mountains in the distance with green and yellow trees against a blue sky.

Our hiking adventures at Cascade Mountain Adventures continue with smart preparation for the changing conditions. Here are our top ten tips to prepare yourself, your gear, and your hiking plans for the changing seasons. We look forward to seeing you on the trail!

Gear

You’ve already got your Ten Essentials covered, right? (Need a refresher? We’ve got you right here!) These are the items we focus on, beyond the initial Ten Essentials, for the fall season.

P.S. We are not affiliated with or receive any benefit from the gear recommendations below. We recommend them because we use them and love them.

  1. Traction Devices: Fall means the return of snow and ice at higher elevations. These conditions can change fast and it is important to be prepared. We carry Kahtoola Microspikes - tire chains for your boots - to keep our feet secure on snow and ice.

  2. Gloves & Hat: We carry one - two pairs of softshell gloves and a wool hat on every Fall adventure. Our favorite mid-weight gloves are the Outdoor Research PL 100 Sensor.

  3. Extra Insulation: Remember to pack an extra jacket or two when the temperature drops. We keep an extra down jacket and/or synthetic insulation layer at ready for on-trail lunch stops.

  4. Waterproofing Your Backpack: Keep that gear dry! Yes, you can buy or use a commercial rain cover for your backpack. Or you can do what we do and line the entire inside of your backpack with a sturdy plastic trash compactor bag. Dry gear is warm gear!

  5. Dry Clothes: An extra dry shirt and a pair of dry socks can make a huge difference. We keep one of each in a dedicated dry bag just in case or as a post-trail luxury.

  6. Sit Pad: Who wants to sit on a cold wet rock when you can sit on a dry insulated cushion? Not us! We love our Therm-a-Rest Sit Pads.

  7. Thermos: Oh hot cocoa. How do we love thee? We love you even more three hours in on a cold trail piping hot out of our Hydroflask thermos.

A wide paved trail covered with fallen fall leaves surrounded by trees.

Weather & Conditions

A current and accurate knowledge of the expected weather conditions, sunrise and sunset times, and current snow conditions are vital to safe and comfortable fall hiking. Some of our favorite information sources are linked below.

  1. Sunrise / Sunset Times: Remember to check your favorite weather forecast source for the sunrise and sunset times. It’s important to know when it is going to get dark and plan accordingly. We like the information in this site.

  2. Weather Forecasts: Need a weather forecast source? Our favorite is NOAA lat / long specific weather forecasts. An example location is here.

    Need the lat / long coordinates of your favorite trail? Our friends at Washington Trails Association post them with every trailhead hiking description. Look for the orange ‘Trailhead’ text coordinates below the map.

  3. Snow Conditions: Is there snow at the trailhead? On the trail? Snotel will know! Snotel is a series of real-time probe placed throughout the region to monitor current and historical snow depth information.

A mountain stream and granite peaks surrounded by yellow larch trees and snow covered ground.

See you the trail! Have a safe, fun, and wonderful Fall season outdoors!


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