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Trip Finder: Indian Summer Hikes

Fall camping season seems to go on forever with these fair-weather weekend trips.

Northeast | West | Midwest


2 Days
Clark State Forest, IN

The Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s longest (58 miles), and this 12-mile stretch is the toughest–and coolest–section. It’s a roller coaster of wooded knobs and deep ravines showing off autumn’s fire along the Knobstone Escarpment, a 100-mile-long snake of rock in southeastern Indiana. Climb 150 feet up and around Round Knob (you can see Louisville, KY, on a clear day). With summer’s crowds (and humidity) gone, claim a choice campsite near the Virginia Pine-Chestnut Oak Nature Preserve. Continue the next day to the highest point on the KT (1,017 feet), and play dot-to-dot with a few more hills before the final descent to the New Chapel trailhead.

3 Days
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI
With winter temps just one Alberta clipper away, sunny days on Lake Superior’s most celebrated islands are a rare treat in late autumn. Get there before October ends. Push off from Bayfield and paddle the blue-green waters 12 miles to Oak Island. A four-mile trek from the take-out leads to a prime basecamp at North Bay, with unobstructed vistas of 10 neighboring isles glowing like embers with their red foliage and sandstone. Day two: Hike the 14-mile Loop Trail and skip agates from your beach campsite after dinner. Backtrack to the island’s dock for the return trip to Bayfield on day three. $10 permit required.

4 Days
Black Elk Wilderness, SD

Spilling southwest from Mt. Rushmore, the Black Elk is a land of gnarled peaks, dense ponderosas, and granite spires. Have it all to yourself under warm, late-fall sun on this 35-mile loop from the Centennial Bypass trailhead. Camp at Willow Creek Rushmore Trail, Norbeck Preserve, and Grizzly Bear Creek Trail. Summit 7,242-foot Harney Peak on day three.

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