People sometimes ask, “What’s the best season for hiking?” The answer is: That depends. On weather. On calendars. On where you want to go, see, and how much time you have.
For us, fall gets the nod for Finest Hiking Season.
By “fall” I mean that brief “Indian Summer” time between mid-September to mid or late-October, when one glorious, gilded day glides into the next. Temperatures drop. Trees change clothes. Cherry-cheeked winds scrub cyan skies. Trails clogged with crowds a few short weeks ago are quiet and nearly deserted.
You can sometimes push the time frame into November. But the window is brief, so you have to be quick. And keep an eye on the weather.
This is especially true at Mount Rainier, where notoriously unpredictable weather can get even more unpredictable. Think dry, cozy tent site turning into the Okeefenokee overnight (don’t ask how I know that).
Here are some of the perks you get when hiking the Pacific Northwest during fall: