Take in the Season With Great Fall Walks

Discover beautiful places to exercise during the most colorful months of the year.
Suzanne Powell Mills / Photography: Van Chaplin

The season's colors and comfortable temperatures can lure even the exercise-challenged into action. No matter where you live, you can find places that invite you to take a walk outside. Deciding which one to visit just depends on your schedule.

Busy day? No problem. A quick walk in a nearby neighborhood can invigorate your senses, and you'll think more clearly afterward.

Plenty of Places To Go
When you have a little time, visit a public garden. Spend an hour or so exploring the site. The walk doesn't have to be intense. Instead, enjoy the chance to relax and take in the scenery.

If you crave more than a leisurely stroll, head for a state park. Such places have a variety of possibilities, from vigorous hiking trails to less-difficult walking grounds. Contact the park of your choice for the latest information on fall foliage. Most parks provide regular color updates, either online or on a hot line.

The truth is, though, you don't need to seek out a special garden or park to appreciate the season. Roaming your own neighborhood can accomplish the same goal.

Local Color
Check out an area near you for a fabulous fall walk.

  • Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
    Where: Clermont, Kentucky
    Contact information: (502) 955-8512, www.bernheim.org

     
  • Birmingham Botanical Gardens
    Where: Birmingham
    Contact information: (205) 414-3900, www.bbgardens.org

     
  • Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art
    Where: Nashville
    Contact information: (615) 356-8000, www.cheekwood.org

     
  • Dallas Arboretum
    Where: Dallas
    Contact information: (214) 515-6500, www.dallasarboretum.org

     
  • Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park
    Where: Kennesaw, Georgia
    Contact information: (770) 427-4686, www.nps.gov/kemo

     
  • University of Virginia
    Where: Charlottesville, Virginia
    Contact information: (434) 924-0311, www.virginia.edu

Destination Picks
Our staff named their favorite destinations for catching the season's beauty, as well as getting great exercise. For more information about fall color, contact the USDA Forest Service's Fall Color Hotline at 1-800-354-4595.

  • Anna Ruby Falls
    Where: Just north of Helen, Georgia
    What you'll see: You'll reap multiple rewards from hiking this less-than-a-mile trail. You'll also revel at the wonder of breathtaking waterfalls.
    Contact information: (706) 878-3574, www.georgiatrails.com/trails/annaruby.html

     
  • Buffalo National River
    Where: northern Arkansas, with headquarters in Harrison
    What you'll see: This park boasts eye-catching streams, bluffs, waterfalls, and colorful trees throughout its many trails.
    Contact information: (870) 439-2502, www.nps.gov/buff

     
  • Callaway Gardens
    Where: Pine Mountain, Georgia
    What you'll see: The gardens at Callaway showcase many autumn beauties. This combination gardens, resort, and preserve also offers great fall activities, such as the Harvest Festival held every October and November.
    Contact information: 1-800-225-5292, www.callawaygardens.com

     
  • Everglades National Park
    Where: South Florida, with headquarters west of Homestead
    What you'll see: The marshes of the Everglades feature their own unique beauty during this season. Try exploring the Flamingo Area, which has nine separate trails of varying lengths and scenery.
    Contact information: (305) 242-7700, www.nps.gov/ever

     
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
    Where: A trail corridor including Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
    What you'll see: Although its office headquarters are in West Virginia, this park offers hundreds of miles of trails extending from the mouth of the Potomac River to the Allegheny Highlands. The C&O Canal Towpath, in Maryland, is a favorite.
    Contact information: (202) 619-7222, www.nps.gov/pohe

WATER BREAK
Fall temperatures may not cause you to sweat as much as the summer heat, but staying hydrated is still important. Be sure to take a full water bottle with you during long walks. And even after a short stroll, remember to drink an 8-ounce glass of H2O to rehydrate when you get home.

Healthy Benefits

  • Spending time outside in the sun helps your body produce vitamin D, which aids in calcium absorption.
  • Walking prompts your body to release endorphins, hormones that naturally make you feel good.
  • Speed up your metabolism by walking more often.

 

Walk for a Cause
This fall, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation hosts Race for the Cure in cities throughout the South. Discover how you can support breast cancer research by visiting www.komen.org. You can also find information about the commitments of many corporate sponsors, such as Ford Division (www.fordcares.com), Lean Cuisine (www.leancuisine.com), or Yoplait (www.yoplaitusa.com).

"Take in the Season With Great Fall Walks" is from the October 2005 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.