The Long Trail, Vermont
Sherburne Pass Loop, 8.5 miles, loop
Arguably the best place in all of America to explore the early fall colors is atop Pico Peak, halfway along Vermont's iconic 273-mile Long Trail. And it's easy to do: You can reach the peak in a few hours by heading out on the Sherburne Pass Loop trail, which begins at the Inn at Long Trail, in Killington. "We call that section the Green Tunnel because you've got waist-high ferns along a forested pathway," says Murray McGrath, who's family has owned the inn for 38 years. After Pico Peak, the trail dives back into the woods on its way to Deer Leap, a rock outcropping and popular climbing area with a clear vista all the way to the Adirondacks.
"It's a phenomenal view, and you don't really need anything special to reach it," says McGrath. "Just a pair of sneakers."
Après Hike: The easiest place to crash is also the best: the Inn at Long Trail, a 1930s ski lodge with a giant stone fireplace and redwood hot tub. And with breakfast specials like soda bread French toast with local maple syrup, there's no reason not to spend the night.