As summer winds down, vacations come to an end, and the kids head back to school, it may seem like it’s time to retreat indoors. But don’t reach for a pumpkin latte and start binge-watching your favorite fall shows just yet—because September is a great time to get outdoors and hit the hiking trails.
Why September Is the Perfect Month to Go Hiking
The days start to cool down in September, making it more pleasant as you exert yourself on a challenging trail. The mornings have an invigorating crispness to them that makes you naturally want to speed up and start your workout. Mosquitoes are dying down (thank goodness!), and the colors of the leaves are just beginning to change. Although the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler, the sun during the day seems just as bright and warm as it did in June.
And you’ll have more space on the more popular trails to savor some alone time—the hordes of tourists have made their way back home. In fact, September is an ideal month to visit those National Parks on your bucket list. Less road traffic, plenty of parking spaces, and trails all to yourself—it’s a hiker’s paradise.
Choose Your Hike
Whether you live in a high-rise or in a more suburban backdrop, you’re never far from a hiking trail. City parks are a great option for short treks; you might discover how the trails interconnect to create a longer hike. Or you may choose to drive a short distance to the backcountry—to a State Park or National Park just begging for you to discover hikes of all levels.
As you thoughtfully choose what kind of hike you’d like to try, be realistic in your expectations of yourself and those who will be in your group. It’s important to consider your health, stamina, the weather, and the type of terrain.
Need some inspiration? Hiking guidebooks and websites are excellent resources for all things hiking. And most websites have reviews and tips from others who have gone before you—some updated weekly with current trail conditions. Check beforehand if your dog is allowed on the trails.
What to Pack
The number one thing you can do to ensure you have a fun and stress-free hike is to prepare well. Depending upon how long your hike is—a few hours to all day—you’ll need to prepare your hiking checklist. Here’s a list of the basics that will keep you nourished, hydrated, healthy, and safe for a day hike:
Hiking backpack or smaller-sized daypack for a short hike
Plenty of water—start with two liters of water per person per day and adjust according to intensity, duration, and weather conditions
Snacks/foods that provide sustained energy—carbohydrates and protein—and are easy to eat on the trail
Hiking boots or shoes for the terrain (comfortably broken in)
Weather-appropriate clothing (choose layers that are moisture-wicking)
First aid kit
Cell phone (hopefully you’ll have service if you need it)
Trail map, compass
Sunblock, sunglasses, hat, buy spray, hand sanitizer
Binoculars, outdoor journal and pen
So what are you waiting for? Invite your friends, pick a trail, and prepare your pack—the perfect September hike is calling you.