Top 10 fall hikes

Work off the feast along our favorite trails from Seattle to Salt Lake

Wildwood Trail

You'll have fun burning some of the season's calories along one of these great strolls ― from Seattle to Salt Lake.

1. Seattle, WA
 Seward Park

The densely wooded paths in south Seattle's 300-acre Seward Park feature views of the city skyline and Mt. Rainier, and a flat, paved 2.4-mile loop that's perfect for a family stroll. For those into birds (the kind you won't be eating later), now's the time for buffleheads and mergansers, eagles, pileated woodpeckers, and, if the weather holds, a flock of noisy parrots roosting in the trees on the east lip of the loop. 5902 Lake Washington Blvd. S.; www.seattle.gov/parks or 206/684-4396. ―Ali Basye

2. Portland, OR
 Wildwood Trail

Bite off a little piece of Portland's 30-mile Wildwood Trail where it winds through Hoyt Arboretum; with Douglas fir flanking the narrow path most of the way, you'll be sheltered even if it's raining. (Likely.) For a 4-mile loop, start just above the Oregon Zoo; glimpse the Japanese garden, then turn left onto the Redwood Trail through a sequoia grove. Cross Fairview Boulevard and follow signs to Overlook Trail; turn right on Wildwood and you're back where you started ― and ready to eat. 4000 Fairview Blvd.; www.hoytarboretum.org. ―Bonnie Henderson

3. Sacramento, CA
 C.M. Goethe Park

Trails twine through oaks and cottonwoods at this park skirting the rushing American River. County park paths hook up to the 32-mile American River Parkway, so you can pick your distance: Tackle a 1-mile loop, or arrange a car shuttle and do a longer hike. Keep an eye out for wild turkeys while you start hankering for their domesticated cousin. $4 per vehicle; Bradshaw Rd. exit off U.S. 50; www.sacparks.net or 916/875-6672. ―Kate Washington

4. Orinda, CA
 Briones Regional Park

On the moderate yet hunger-inducing 3-mile Abrigo Valley-Mott Peak Trail, you'll wander across tawny hillsides and under bushy stands of oak trees up, up to the big payoff ― a breezy ridgetop with views of Mt. Diablo and Mt. Tamalpais, and no sign of civilization. All this, and you'll still get home in time to baste the turkey. Follow Abrigo Valley Trail to Mott Peak to Black Oak to Old Briones Road Trail back to the car. $5 per vehicle; Bear Creek Staging Area, Bear Creek Rd.; www.ebparks.org or 510/562-7275. ―Lisa Trottier

5. San Jose, CA
 Alum Rock Park

Fall days linger, especially golden, in the east-west--running canyon of Alum Rock Park. The east San Jose sanctuary offers both mellow strolls and muscle-taxing climbs through its 720 acres. Opt for the flat 2.5-mile Creek Trail, which follows Penitencia Creek to the handsome stone bridges at Sycamore Grove's mineral springs. Or for a more challenging 3-mile trek with vertigo-inducing views ― and deer, rabbits, and quail ― take South Rim Trail from Inspiration Point, where the natural beauty inspires genuine thanks-giving. $6 per vehicle; 15350 Penitencia Creek Rd.; 408/277-2757. ―Lisa Taggart

6. Malibu, CA
 Point Mugu State Park

So you think there are no seasons in Southern California? Spend an hour in Big Sycamore Canyon, and you'll find fall. No surprise, this place has sycamores, lots of 'em, and in November, their leaves should be turning. Running for 8 miles from the coast and climbing more than 500 feet, the trail can make an ambitious holiday trek. Head just a couple of miles in and you'll hear the crunch of fallen leaves beneath your feet. $10 per vehicle; off Pacific Coast Hwy. at Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park; www.parks.ca.gov or 818/880-0350. ―Matthew Jaffe

7. Scottsdale, AZ
 Pinnacle Peak Park

Prep for pumpkin pie with this popular 3.5-mile round-trip hike, which winds through Pinnacle Peak Park, past north Scottsdale's boulder-strewn landmark, and among saguaros, creosote, and jojoba. You'll catch plenty of desert ― and city ― views. Peer down at the rolling golf greens and some of the town's swankiest mansions where, no doubt, the caterer carves the turkey. 26802 N. 102nd Way; www.scottsdaleaz.gov/parks/pinnacle or 480/312-0990. ―Nora Burba Trulsson

8. Santa Fe, NM
 Borrego-Bear Wallow Loop

Aim for the mountains above Santa Fe for this well-signed 4-mile loop mere minutes from town. Shepherds once brought sheep to market along the ponderosa pine-lined route, but now it's frequented by locals and their beloved dogs. Begin on Borrego, then cross Big Tesuque Creek by an aspen-ringed meadow. Head down-stream along the Winsor Trail to the Bear Wallow Trail, where another stream crossing kicks off the climb back to the car. Santa Fe National Forest; Hyde Park Rd., 9 mi. from Santa Fe Plaza; www.fs.fed.us/r3/sfe or 505/438-7840. ―Julian Smith

9. Denver, CO
 Deer Creek Canyon Park

Up-and-down with little flat ground is what you'll find at Deer Creek Canyon Park, in the foothills southwest from Denver. The 1.6-mile Meadowlark Trail is a favorite for its million-dollar views and the deer among the thick Gambell oak. Climbing 830 feet, the trail's consistent 10 percent grade can feel like a StairMaster, but stop for breaks and take in the late-fall panorama ― you'll agree that this trek trumps the gym any day. Deer Creek Canyon Rd., off W. Ute Ave.; http://openspace.jeffco.us or 303/271-5925. ―Ted Alan Stedman

10. Salt Lake City, UT
 Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Round here, most folks pray for snow by Thanksgiving ― so break out the snow-shoes or cross-country skis, just in case. Otherwise, sneakers do just fine on the Steiner Centennial section of the 85-mile Bonneville Shoreline Trail. For a brisk 3-mile out-and-back, start on the north side of Sunnyside Avenue. After a short uphill, the trail levels out and opens up to grand valley views. Continue north to Red Butte Garden, then pivot and marvel at the Wasatch Mountains on the walk back. Sunnyside Ave., near mouth of Emigration Canyon; www.bonneville-trail.org/steiner.htm ―Virginia Rainey

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