After growing up in Florida where the only seasons are hurricane and not-hurricane, there are few times of year I love more than when the heat of summer abates, light jackets make their way from the backs of closets, and hillsides are slowly covered in shades of fire. Take in all the sounds, smells and sights of fall by bike with these five fall bucket list cycling destinations.
Dirt: Raystown Lake, PA
More than 30 miles of purpose built mountain bike trails await visitors to Raystown Lake. In the summer, this vast reservoir lures houseboats and anglers. But fall is when the cyclists descend on the professionally built singletrack storming through the Allegheny Mountain Range.
Orange, red, and yellow leaves brighten the trails at Raystown Lake in PA. (Image: Flickr user Bicycle Geography)
Pavement: The Blue Ridge Parkway
With 469 miles that run from North Carolina to Virginia, bicyclists can pedal until they run out of mist-covered mountains, waterfalls, and red-leaved oak trees.
Family-friendly: Glenwood Springs, CO
The Glenwood Canyon Recreational Trail offers 16 miles of paved bike path on smooth grades following the Colorado River and weaving through golden-leaf aspen groves. This ride can be done as an out-and-back, in smaller segments, or using one of the many shuttle services available. Soothe sore muscles at the end of the day in the world’s largest hot springs pool.
Party: Shenandoah Fall Festival, VA
Hundreds of riders of all ages and abilities gather at the weekend long Shenandoah Fall Festival to celebrate bicycling and the beauty of Shenandoah Valley. This festival offers not one, not two, but thirteen(!) bicycling routes of varying lengths and difficulties. Better yet, all rides have stocked rest stops and SAG support.
The Shenandoah Fall Festival is open to riders of all ages and abilities. (Image: YourThousandWords.com)
Urban: Minneapolis, MN
Routinely ranked as one of the country’s best cities for bicycling, Minneapolis makes bike commuting an awe-inspiring autumn experience. With 92 miles of on-street bikeways and 85 miles of off-street paths, it’s easy to explore Minneapolis’s rivers, artwork, and culture. But it’s the city’s dedication to preserving its canopy, including planting 7,500 new trees in the past six years, that makes Minneapolis perfect for fall commuting.
Kristin Butcher is a freelance writer based out of Boulder, Colorado, she spends her time writing about people, the outdoors and, of course, bikes. You can read her column, Butcher Paper, in BIKE Magazine.