10 Amazing State Parks You Have to Visit During the Fall

By Sunny Montefiore, Men's Journal

Dig fall trips that revolve around the outdoors? Us too. Although National Parks get most of the attention, our country is filled with great state parks that are perfect for autumn visits.

Whether you want to embark on a sea kayaking adventure, hike through endless mountain wilderness, or score a glimpse at endangered wildlife, these diverse state parks are among the best in the nation. If you’re having a hard time deciding which state park visit, our advice is to tack an extra vacation day onto Columbus Day weekend and squeeze in two.

Jack London State Historic Park, Sonoma Valley, California

Named after the celebrated American writer Jack London—the author of handsomely-titled tomes like To Build a Fire and A Piece of Steak—these sprawling grounds are full of stellar vistas. Explore it all on the park’s 29 miles of trails, which are open to hiking, horseback-riding, and biking. Plus, you can see historic buildings from the late 19th century and check out the newly renovated museum in the House of Happy Walls (it reopens on November 10th, 2018), which has 22 exhibits honoring the trailblazing lives of London and his wife, Charmian.

For more information, visit parks.ca.gov

Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Colorado Springs, Colorado

One of The Centennial State’s newest state parks, Cheyenne Mountain’s 21 miles of hiking and biking trails traversing pristine Rocky Mountain wilderness are ready for all-day adventuring. And of course, that means getting up high: On September 25th, the new Dixon Trail opens to provide visitors with access to the summit of Cheyenne Mountain for incredible views of the surrounding landscape. Need to give your legs a break? Test your aim at the nearby archery range.

For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us

Big Lagoon State Park, Pensacola, Florida

Birds and wildlife abound in these parts (the park is a gateway for the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail), and you can find ducks, wood-warblers, and more. Grab a campsite to enjoy beautiful nightly stargazing, or spend your day swimming and fishing in the surrounding waters. Kayaking is also a big draw here—it’s a launch point for the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail, a sea kayaking route around the entire state.

For more information, visit floridastateparks.org

Vogel State Park, Blairsville, Georgia

If you’re looking for a park with mind blowing fall color, head to Vogel-ville. Skilled hikers will love the Bear Hair Gap Trail, a four-mile stunner that gives a birds-eye view of the park’s glistening lake. For a more family-friendly stroll, take the Lake Loop to a small waterfall below the dam. Even the drive into the park is something special: Wolf Pen Gap Road is a favorite for eye-catching fall foliage.

For more information, visit georgiastateparks.org

Peninsula State Park, Door County, Wisconsin

“Explore the Door” is the motto of this recreation-focused corner of Wisconsin, and visiting Peninsula State Park is a great way to experience the area. Bike or hike your way through storybook autumn color or paddle out to Horseshoe Island, a 38-acre island that’s about a mile from land. Pro-tip: Rent bikes from Edge of Park and cruise over Sunset Trail, an easy 10-mile path with great views of cliff communities along the coastline, the Weborg Marsh, and cedar and maple trees (it’s also wheelchair accessible).

For more information visit travelwisconsin.com

Humboldt Redwoods State Park, Weott, California

Sorry, East Coasters: If you think New England is the exclusive home of autumn’s glory, you’re missing out. Here, leaf peepers will gape at the park’s big leaf maples, Oregon ash, dogwoods, black oaks, red and white alders, and cottonwoods, all in full color beneath an entrancing mist. This 53,000-acre park has the largest grove of old-growth redwoods in the world, and it offers plenty of ways to enjoy them: running, camping, hiking, picnicking, or horseback riding, to name a few.

For more information, visit parks.ca.gov

McCormick’s Creek State Park, Owen County, Indiana

Yes, you should add Bloomington, Indiana to your travel bucket list (we’ll fill you in on the exploding craft beer scene after our hike). This park is situated on the scenic White River, and it showcases unique limestone formations and plenty of scenic waterfalls, too. Indiana’s first state park is around 14 miles from Bloomington, and it provides ample opportunity to hike your way through thick woods or explore the canyon’s imposing cliffs.

For more information, visit in.gov

Castle Crags State Park, Castella, California

Head to Siskiyou, the northernmost region of California, and prepare to be amazed by the area’s fall foliage and breathtaking views of Mt. Shasta and Castle Lake, which was carved by glaciers 10,000 years ago. But this park has much more than just scenic vistas: With over 28 miles of hiking trails (and even a section of the Pacific Crest Trail) and excellent climbing opportunities on the park’s towering rocky outcrops, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

For more information, visit parks.ca.gov

Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, Florida

This Martin County gem is home to some impressive wildlife, including endangered species like the Florida scrub jay and gopher tortoise, along with bald eagles, deer, turtles, and more. Head out in a kayak on the Loxahatchee River or hop on a boat tour on the 60-passenger Loxahatchee Queen III to see everything it has to offer. And don’t miss the 9-mile segment of the Ocean to Lake trail that passes through the park; it’s one hell of a backcountry oasis.

For more information, visit floridastateparks.org

Mueller State Park, Divide, Colorado

In this 5,000-acre playground, ditch email-checking for elk-spotting (other wildlife here include black bears, hawks, and mule deer). During your visit, hike through over 44 miles of paths or hop on your bike to ride 36 miles of mountain biking trails, and soak up great fall color all the way. Not ready to leave after a day? Grab a campsite, cabin, or yurt to really experience that jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain scenery.

For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us

See more at: Men's Journal


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