Get us in your inbox

Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best fall foliage bike trails in the US

Admire stunning autumnal colors while riding along these scenic fall foliage bike trails in the US

Written by
Shoshi Parks
Contributors
Sarah Medina
&
Scott Snowden
Advertising

As autumn creeps across the States, pedal pushers aren’t just looking forward to cooler weather — they’re also on the lookout for beautiful fall colors. From Colorado to New York and Texas to North Carolina, there are plenty of locations to catch the stunning fall leaves from the saddle of a bicycle.

While some of these trails require serious calf muscles, others are easy on the legs and the eyes. Spots like the Kentucky Bourbon Trail in Lexington and the Trinity Trails in Fort Worth are more relaxed, with plenty of stops for drinks and eats along the way. And depending on your route, the autumn fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down: if you park your bike at one of the best fall foliage campgrounds, you’ll dream in gold, red and orange.

Of course, If you’d rather cruise on four wheels than two, there are plenty of ways to immerse yourself in the most colorful time of year. We’ve rounded up the best places to see fall foliage in the US and, if you are seriously committed to the season, check out the ultimate fall foliage road trip

RECOMMENDED: The best bike trails in the US

Best fall foliage bike trails

Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Lexington, KY
Photograph: Courtesy VisitLEX

1. Kentucky Bourbon Trail | Lexington, KY

Explore Kentucky’s famed bluegrass hills, country roads lined with golden trees, historic bourbon distilleries, and thoroughbred horse farms by biking along the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. You'll start in Lexington, home to more than 400 historic horse farms and 14 of the state’s biggest distilleries, and you’ll travel through 188 miles of picturesque trail. Along the way, stop to taste historic spirits at the likes of Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve.

Kebler Pass | Crested Butte, CO
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Kebler Pass | Crested Butte, CO

Just outside Crested Butte, a winter resort town southwest of Denver, the aspens grow in dense groves that shimmer with yellow and red in the autumn sun. Two bike trails weave through the changing trees from the heart of town to the mountain summit on a mix of paved and dirt roads. For added alpine drama, take the junction at Kebler Pass to Lake Irwin (2.5 miles) where the views of nearby Mt. Emmons are unbeatable. 

Advertising
Swamp Rabbit Trail | Greenville, SC
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Swamp Rabbit Trail | Greenville, SC

A top-notch bike trail is a welcome perk in most towns, but this one is truly the hub of its community in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Running nearly 20 miles along the Reedy River on an old railroad bed, the paved Swamp Rabbit Trail brought the once sleepy town to life and continues to draw cyclists of all ages and skill levels to the stretch between Greenville and Travelers Rest.

Trinity Trails | Fort Worth, TX
Photograph: Courtesy Visit Fort Worth

4. Trinity Trails | Fort Worth, TX

The Trinity Trails, located in Fort Worth, extend through the city for more than 100 miles along the Trinity River with two mountain bike trails that can be found in Fort Worth Sansom Park. Along the way you'll find local attractions like the Panther Island Pavilion, the only waterfront stage in Texas, and Woodshed Smokehouse, the perfect stop for cold beer, live music, backyard games, and amazing food.

Advertising
Blue Ridge Parkway | Swain County, NC
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Blue Ridge Parkway | Swain County, NC

Known for its long autumn season and spectacular fall foliage, North Carolina is the perfect place to take in a kaleidoscope of orange, red, and yellow leaves along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. Stretching 469 miles between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the motorway is lined with yellow, red, and orange dogwood, sassafras and maple trees that guarantee a gorgeous ride no matter how many miles you put in.

Lehigh Gorge Trail | Jim Thorpe, PA
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Lehigh Gorge Trail | Jim Thorpe, PA

On the Lehigh Gorge Trail, in Lehigh Gorge State Park, cyclists are in for a treat. Pedal on vibrant tree-lined paths along the Lehigh River from Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end to the quaint small town of Jim Thorpe (named for the Native American Olympian) at the southern end. Be on the lookout for the park's namesake — a steep-walled gorge — plus tons of waterfalls along the way.

Advertising
Middlefork Savanna Trail | Lake Forst, IL
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Middlefork Savanna Trail | Lake Forst, IL

Located just 40 minutes from Chicago, the small town of Lake Forest is filled with charming destinations and tons of hidden-gem bike trails. Try the 4.5-mile, gravel-packed Middlefork Savanna Trail (access points to this trail can be found at Elawa Farm, a popular local attraction). Home to a rare tallgrass savanna, the trail features a mix of oak savanna and woodlands, wet and mesic prairies, sedge meadows and marshes. 

Long Point State Park | Aurora, NY
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Long Point State Park | Aurora, NY

Explore the vibrant lakeside foliage in Aurora, New York by heading to Long Point State Park, which juts peninsula-like into Lake Chautauqua. The park and marina mostly serve as a day-use area with thickly-wooded stretches of beech, maple, spruce, poplar, and oak trees. But the park is also a popular destination for cyclists who pedal under a canopy of the season’s brightest hues reflecting off pristine Cayuga Lake. 

Advertising
South Boundary Trail | Taos, NM
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. South Boundary Trail | Taos, NM

This one is slightly shorter than some of the others we've mentioned, at just 21 miles one way, but it's worth every moment. That said, you will have to do some climbing, 1,600ft before descending 4,300ft. However, there are options to carve the ride up, dropping in at Garcia Park, for example. But the golden fall colors are so easy on the eye and worth every drop of sweat dripped and every calorie burned. This ride is so popular that it earned the coveted IMBA Epics designation, a coveted crowd-sourced accolade for bike trails from the International Mountain Biking Association.

Eastern Sierra | Mammoth, CA
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Eastern Sierra | Mammoth, CA

This route is for those who are more about the fire-colored fall foliage, rather than the physical challenge of the trail itself. That said, Lake June sits at an elevation of 7,600ft, so make sure you're fully acclimatized before you set out. It takes you past June Lake, Gull Lake, Silver Lake, and Grant Lake, all located in the eastern part of Mammoth that's sometimes referred to as the 'Switzerland of California.' It's a 24-mile loop, that's all road and no trail and to get the very best vistas of the autumn vegetation, you should aim for mid- to late September. Grab refreshments from either O'Hana's 395 or ther June Lake Brewery if you want to put back on all those calories you've just burned off.

Advertising
Maroon Bells | Aspen, CO
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. Maroon Bells | Aspen, CO

Colorado arguably offers the most if you're all about the outdoors; camping, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, hunting, skiing, snowboarding and some serious cycling. In fact, many professional US bikers will incorporate time here in their annual training schedules. Plus, the Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed peaks in the country. The best part is that this is not a particularly well-used artery for traffic of the four-wheel kind, so cyclists can enjoy having the road very much to themselves. However, be warned as this might not be enjoyed as much if you're not at least reasonably fit on a bicycle as the road climbs 1,700ft in 10 miles.

Erie Canalway Trail | Albany, NY
Photograph: Shutterstock

12. Erie Canalway Trail | Albany, NY

Spanning more than 360 miles between Albany, New York, and Buffalo, the Erie Canalway Trail is the mother of all bike trails and it follows the historic Erie Canal, which opened in 1825. For those dedicated fall foliage followers, the 32-mile segment between Buffalo and Lockport is a popular favorite. Give yourself lots of time to stop at historic sites and make accommodation plans in advance. And it goes without saying to bring waterproof clothing too.

Recommended

    More on Fall

      You may also like
        Advertising

        The best things in life are free.

        Get our free newsletter – it’s great.

        Loading animation
        Déjà vu! We already have this email. Try another?

        🙌 Awesome, you're subscribed!

        Thanks for subscribing! Look out for your first newsletter in your inbox soon!