The blistering heat and humidity of the summer has passed, and the crisp air is perfect for long days on the trail. Colorful leaves bring breathtaking beauty to the woods, streams, and mountains. Cool evenings are perfect for campfires and cozy nights in the sleeping bag. On some days, the list of reasons to love fall hikes feels endless. But not every day.

The reverence that hikers have for fall also comes with a fair bit of frustration. Dynamic day temperatures mean that you often change your layers multiple times and they still never feel quite right. As the days get shorter, you may find yourself having to set up camp in the dark. Cool dark mornings lend themselves to cold hands that can last throughout the day. The first day of your trip it could be 75 degrees, and on the second day it could be 40 degrees. Fall is unpredictable.

The unpredictability of fall does not need to take away from the magic of autumn adventures. Our guides at Blue Ridge Hiking Company have compiled their top five tips and tricks for thriving in uncertainty found in changing seasons. Let us know your fall hiking suggestions in the comments below!

 1.Bring a warm       beverage 

   Our guide Lindsey says she packs a warm           beverage in an insulated bottle any time             temps are expected to be below 50 degrees.       A hot drink can warm you up from the               inside on a cold summit, and it makes                 staying hydrated much easier. 


2.Pack a neck gaiter and a pair of liner gloves 

 We almost always carry gloves in our pack, but it becomes even more important in shoulder seasons!   Hiking in higher elevations is always cooler than in town, so people often don’t think about needing       warm layers. Keeping a pair of liner gloves and a lightweight neck gaiter (like our custom Blue Ridge Hiking Company neck gaiter) in your pack goes a long way if it’s cooler than you expected on your hike!

3.Check road closures in your area 

We’re lucky enough to live near the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway! Something many people don’t know is that the Parkway isn’t cleared in winter weather. The park service doesn’t apply salt or sand, and they don’t clear snow from      the roadway. Starting in early November, we check road closures on the Parkway any time we head out!

4.Consider rain pants 

We are huge advocates of hiking umbrellas or a lightweight rain coat in the summer months. In fall, rain pants can be a crucial layer for staying dry (therefore staying warm), as there is no colder weather pattern than 40 degrees and rainy.

5.Eat an extra snack 

Our guide Christine suggests eating if you’re cold. Having an extra 200 calories or so gives your body enough fuel to                    (PC: Alexa Bonsey Photography)  warm you up at the end of a break, or to keep you warm overnight.

6. Bonus Tip: Get up and go to the bathroom! 

We often hear on our backpacking trips that folks are worried about getting up and going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. We always recommend getting up anyway! Your body is using fuel to keep your urine warm, so getting up to pee actually makes you warmer because your body can use that same energy to keep the rest of you warm. Plus, you’ll sleep better!