New England Trail, Erving State Forest, MA
By November, most of the showstopping fall foliage is gone, and so are the crowds. Take advantage of the solitude on a 4.4-mile loop on the New England Trail’s northern section. From the trailhead on Briggs Street in Erving, head northwest along Briggs Brook to a footbridge at the base of a 60-foot step waterfall (gushing in spring and after heavy rains). Turn right to follow the trail up 400 vertical feet to the junction with Hermit’s Castle Trail, then take another right and follow blue blazes for .4 mile to the former cave dwelling of John Smith, a 19th century recluse. Past the cave, loop left, climbing uphill on the New England Trail. Close the lollipop part of the loop at mile 2.9, then return the way you came. After the hike, head to any of the nearby towns for tastings and tours at the county-wide Franklin County Cider Days from November 1 to 3.
Grotto Falls, Custer Gallatin National Forest, MT
Experience Hyalite Canyon’s frozen waterfalls without the need for climbing gear on the Grotto Falls Trail, a 2.5-mile out-and-back just outside Bozeman. Starting from the Hyalite Creek trailhead, follow a well-marked footpath about a mile along the meandering creek. Just below the first set of switchbacks is a fork; go right. A few hundred feet later reach Grotto Falls, a single cascade over ancient columnar basalt that counters its relatively low height with a sheet of tumbling water 15 feet wide. The waterfall freezes in early November and doesn’t thaw until late spring. From the trail, enjoy the view over the falls’ namesake grotto; in the winter this shallow cave is strung with a maze of twisted icicles, which melt in the midday sun and then freeze to a new pattern daily. Keep an eye out for ice climbers on the cliffs above as they navigate vertical ice between sheer cliff bands. After a long day in the cold head back to town and the patio fireplace at Lockhorn Cider House to sip a sulfite-free hard cider pressed from apples that grow in the area.
Emerald Mile, Redwood National Park, CA
Three hundred-foot-tall trees rising from a fern-covered forest floor, gorges so deep they see no sunshine: Redwood National Park feels like an alien kingdom. Discover some of its most surreal scenery at the Emerald Mile, a natural tunnel of old-growth redwoods and Douglas fir. From the trailhead at Tall Trees Grove, make your way down to Redwood Creek’s wide gravel bars, then follow the creek south to become engulfed by the verdant surroundings. Turn around at mile 3.5, after passing through the Emerald Mile, to complete a creek-side, 7-mile out-and-back. After, drive for 75 minutes to the coastal town of Arcata, where you’ll find The Local Cider Bar, the only Californian cider bar north of the Bay Area. Try any of the 17 varieties of cider on tap, and since your hike surely worked up an appetite, pair your pint with a slice of pie.