If you’re a long-distance hike lover jonesing for your next adventure but aren’t necessarily ready to leave it all behind, the Appalachian Trail or the challenging PCT might not be the best autumn excursion. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost; there are more than a few thru-hikes in the US that can easily be tackled in a couple of days or weeks.

What’s more, many of these longer trails are bursting with gorgeous fall hues this year, making all the breathtaking vistas, serene mountain lakes, and unspoiled forested land that much better. So if you’ve always wanted to check out an incredible end-to-end or long-distance trail without the six-month commitment, here are ten adventurous thru-hikes that are perfect for viewing fall foliage and reconnecting with nature.

10 Benton-Mackaye Trail

Benton-Mackaye Trail is a medium-sized thru-hike that’s around 300 miles and is an ideal trail for anyone longing for a semi-expansive hike deep into the Appalachian Mountains.

This relatively quiet (less crowded) nature trail is surrounded by lush forests, bright foliage, and bubbling creeks—making it an absolute delight in fall.

That said, there is a lack of established shelters and infrequent signage, so make sure you don’t get lost in all this trail’s autumn beauty.

  • States Covered : Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee
  • Best Season : Year-round
  • Hike Duration : Around two to three weeks

9 John Muir Trail

Yet another incredible thru-hike is the 211-mile long John Muir Trail.

Known as the granddaddy of all hiking trails, this particular route is adventure packed and starts in Yosemite Valley at a mere 4,000 feet.

With swollen rivers, snow-capped mountain peaks, and stunning mountain forest views, this isn’t a thru-hike for the timid.

Though fall is considered the off-season for this route, reservations are still required.

But, the best thing about a fall hike here is you can still see some picturesque seasonal foliage and marvel as this stunning region begins to flirt with winter before your very eyes.

  • States Covered : California
  • Best Season : Summer and fall
  • Hike Duration : Roughly two to three weeks

8 Lone Star Hiking Trail

Nestled deep in the Sam Houston National Forest, adventurers will find the 128-mile pine needle-cushioned footpath known as the Lone Star Hiking Trail.

In a truly serene setting, hikers can easily spend a few days just appreciating all this trail has to offer.

With bubbling creeks, gentle slopes, lush hardwoods, ample wildlife, and a lovely spectrum of fall hues and foliage—all in more agreeable Texas weather—this footpath is a real treat.

A bonus here is that this scenic thru-hike does not require a permit or reservations.

  • States Covered : Texas
  • Best Season : Year-round
  • Hike Duration : Approximately one week

Related: 10 Long Hikes To Consider Before The Appalachian Trail

7 The Long Trail

For thru-hikers looking to get back to their roots, The Long Trail, a.k.a the country’s oldest long-distance route and legendary muse for the Appalachian Trail, is for you.

A whopping 272-mile trail, The Long Trail traces the ridges of the Green Mountains and offers hikers some very diverse terrain along the way.

With a thick forest, eastern white pines, sugar maples, views of the Canadian border, and more, this beautiful footpath is definitely a sight to see in the fall.

  • States Covered : Vermont
  • Best Season : Spring through late fall
  • Hike Duration : Around three weeks or so

6 The Mid-State Trail

For die-hard hikers looking for more of a challenge, the 522-mile Mid-State Trail that runs straight down the middle of Pennsylvania should do the trick.

Situated between the Appalachians and the Allegheny Plateau, there’s no shortage of fall foliage, rolling hills, forested highlands, ridgelines, or rock formations along this long-distance route.

So if you’ve been thinking about spending a couple of months hiking in seemingly endless autumn nature, then the Mid-State Trail is for you.

  • States Covered : Pennsylvania
  • Best Season : Spring to fall
  • Hike Duration : Somewhere around five to seven weeks

5 Ozark Highlands Trail

If your ideal scenic thru-hike involves as few people as possible, then the 270-mile Ozark Highlands Trail should be on your fall activities list.

While delighting in their solitude, thru-hikers can marvel at this trail’s scenic valleys, fall-time vistas, roaring waterfalls, impressive rock formations, and convenient access to the Buffalo River.

That said, it is worth noting that this route covers a relatively remote area, so stock up and plan accordingly.

  • States Covered : Arkansas
  • Best Season : October through June
  • Hike Duration : Just under two weeks or so

4 River To River Trail

A part of the massive 6,800-mile American Discovery Trail, the River to River Trail is thankfully only 160 miles long—making it a reasonable thru-hiking experience for skilled hikers.

This particular stretch of terrain crosses much of southern Illinois and is littered with otherworldly towering slot canyons, bluffs, and dense forests shedding their summer foliage.

Fall hikers can also expect to come across two of the most iconic Midwest bodies of water here—the Ohio River and Mississippi River—along with vast untouched wilderness, so get ready to break out the serious navigational skills.

  • States Covered : Illinois
  • Best Season : Spring through the fall
  • Hike Duration : Approximately one to two weeks

3 Shore-To-Shore Trail

For a remarkably scenic thru-hike, the 220-mile Shore-to-Shore Trail that starts at Lake Huron and ends at Lake Michigan is worth considering this fall.

With rolling hills abound, lushly forested lands, the steep bluffs of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and more, this trail is an autumn feast for the eyes.

In fact, this is such a beautiful route, especially in the fall, that many adventures choose to horseback ride along this footpath.

  • States Covered : Michigan
  • Best Season : Spring through early fall
  • Hike Duration : About two weeks

2 Tahoe Rim Trail

For stunning fall vistas of Tahoe’s pristine beaches, the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail is definitely a thru-hike to check out if you’re in the area and is definitely one of the best hikes in the US.

With dense, colorful foliage everywhere you turn, lush forests, up-high mountain passes, and shimmering lakes, this trail doesn’t disappoint around this time of year.

This route also crosses footpaths with the Pacific Crest Trail, so you’ll get to see more than a few miles of autumn beauty through the Desolation Wilderness.

  • States Covered : California and Nevada
  • Best Season : July through late September
  • Hike Duration : One to two weeks

Related: 10 Hikes Worldwide For The Adrenaline Junkie

1 Wonderland Trail

Last but not least, the 93-mile Wonderland Trail is a thru-hike paradise that promises iconic views, an abundance of fields ablaze with colors, raging rivers, spectacular waterfalls, mountainous terrain, and more.

In fact, this once local treasure turned national wonder is one of the best scenic routes around, so there is absolutely no reason that autumn aficionados and experienced hikers shouldn’t check out this fantastic trail this fall—after all, it is a wonderland.

  • States Covered : Washington State
  • Best Season : July through October
  • Hike Duration : Approximately one to two weeks