Pinhoti Trail, Alabama
Porters Gap to Cheaha State Park; 26.3 miles, point to point
"Think of the Pinhoti Trail as a mini Appalachian Trail," says Jennifer Pharr Davis, owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company. "The path is shorter and the mountains aren't as high, but the biodiversity and geological features are all there. Plus, the trees turn later in Alabama, which means you can chase fall colors further into the season." At this time of the year, you'll also see more wild turkeys and white-tailed deer — and migrating red-tailed hawks and peregrine falcons — than hikers. At 26.3 miles long, the Pinhoti Trail lends itself to a perfect three-day weekend, hiking a half-day Friday, a full day Saturday, and Sunday morning, then revitalizing your legs at the end with a soak in the cold mountain water at Cheaha Lake.
How To Do It: You'll need to organize your own car shuttle to hike point to point, but there are plenty of camp spots; and September is the driest month, so you can ditch the heavy rain gear and extra layers and even sleep outside the tent.