Scenic Autumn Bike Trails You Need to Try
Fall is in full swing, and there’s nothing better than getting out your bike, pumping up your tires, and heading out to enjoy the fantastic fall foliage throughout the country. With over 18,000 miles of biking paths across the nation, you can find great scenic autumn bike trails that range from easy to grueling.
Let’s dive in and discover a few great bike trails you can hop on to leaf-peep your way through fall. From the mountains to the midwest, there are no shortages of perfect courses to suit your needs.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Over 469 miles of bike trails go through one of the most famous national parks in the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway. Located in western North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains draw millions of visitors annually during the fall, which is the peak season. Ranging from 600 to 6,000 feet in elevation, biking the Blue Ridge Parkway is excellent for the whole family.
If you’re planning a trip to bike the Blue Ridge Parkway, remember a few rules before you go. The Parkway is expansive, and there can be long stretches between towns and supply areas. It is crucial to bring plenty of supplies for your trip. Cyclists must wear high visibility clothing, a white light visible from 500 feet, helmets, and must ride in a single file line. Fog and snow are frequent in the fall months, so be sure to exercise caution.
Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
On the eastern side of Tennessee lies the country's largest and most visited national park, The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This expansive park allows cycling throughout its paved roads, but if you’re planning to mountain bike, you won’t find any paths at this park. Instead, grab your road bike and head to Cades Cove Loop Road.
Cades Cove is the most popular cycling spot in the Smoky Mountains. The 11-mile stretch is famous in the fall, where bikers can ride through the park to see the foliage and pass by historic homesteads. Bike rentals are available at the camp store in the summer and fall.
Natchez Trace Scenic Byway, Alabama
One of the most famous bike trails in the south, the Natchez Trace Scenic Byway, draws millions of cyclists each year to bike the paths and explore the gorgeous southern autumn views. The 444-mile byway features many easy-to-hard stretches so even the most novice cyclists can enjoy the park.
If you’re planning a multi-day cycling trip on the byway, there are great campgrounds close to the roadway and some even feature camp stores that cater to cyclists only. Like on the Blue Ridge Parkway, cyclists riding on the Natchez Trace Byway must wear helmets and high-visibility clothing. A Group of eight riders or more will need to apply for a riding permit before arriving.
Valmont Bike Park, Colorado
If you’re new to cycling, check out Escape Route or Hot Lap trails in the Valmont Bike Park in Colorado. This 42-acre natural surface bike park was specially designed by and for cyclists. One of the most popular cycling areas in Colorado, every trail in this park gives you phenomenal autumn views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
The park is open year-round, except for weather-related closures. Inside the park, you will also find several picnic areas, restrooms, and covered shelters for taking a break from the paths. Children are welcome inside the park, and they have two play areas. Dogs, however, are not allowed inside the park.
Sand Hog Hill, Minnesota
Found in Crosby, Minnesota, Sand Hog Hill was the 2012 recipient of the Flow Country Trail Award. Once you've visited the hill, it's easy to see why! The single-track, moderate trail climbs to 1,388 feet in elevation before sending cyclists downhill at break-neck speed! Autumn is the most popular time of the year to visit the hill, as guest delight in the tremendous leaf-peeping opportunities throughout Cayuna Country State Recreation Area, where the mountain is located. However, Sand Hog Hill is closed yearly in November because the park opens its grounds for hunting season.
Glacier National Park, Montana
If you're looking to take an epic autumn ride, you'll want to plan a great cycling adventure to Glacier National Park in Montana. However, instead of a traditional fall getaway in October or November, you'll want to head to the park earlier in the year, closer to the beginning of September. Planning your trip during this time will give you the best views of the state's fall foliage. Fish Creek Bike Path extends from Grist Road to Fish Creek and is one of the most popular trails in the park.
Before heading out to Glacier National Park, you should know a few rules and regulations: always wearing your helmet and high visibility clothing. Drivers are often distracted when driving through the park, as the scenery can take your breath away. Distracted drivers mean cyclists should ride defensively and use pull-outs to let cars pass safely.
Pro Tips for Biking Safely
If you're planning a cycling adventure to explore the beauty of autumn, there are a few helpful tips and tricks you should keep in mind.
- Always check for road and park closures before arriving.
- Bring extra gear, like utility blankets, in case of emergency.
- High-visibility clothing is critical and sometimes required on popular bike trails.
- Be sure to use waterproof clothing, like socks, to keep warm and dry during inclement weather.
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