hikers on rocky trail in forest

4 top tips for fall hiking adventures

Fall is our favourite hiking season.

It’s not too hot. The bugs are gone. Solitude is easier to find.

But fall hiking has its own complications, especially when it comes to weather.

We teamed up with our friends at SAIL to create this handy fall hiking checklist:

1. Protect your feet

Pamper your feet, and they’ll take you around the world (or at least to the top of the fall colours lookout!).

Just going short distances? A pair of suede or synthetic shoes will offer great comfort, without a big “breaking in” process. They dry fast, and aren’t tough on the wallet.

A pair of shoes high above a forest of changing colours.

If you’re going for longer treks, then you’ll want footwear that offers support, comfort, weather resistance, and durability.

On flat, low-altitude trails, hiking shoes will give you more freedom of movement. On rough, rocky terrain, you’l need better ankle support and greater stability on climbs — go for boots. On muddy and wet surfaces, leather shoes or boots will be more resistant to water and easy to clean.

2. Backpacks

Number one criteria? Size.

For a short hike, a daypack is best. It’s light, practical, and big enough to carry the essentials (you’re looking for something between 15 and 35 L).

two hikers wearing large backpacks, on trail

For longer hikes, look for a pack between 30-50 L with an integrated frame (to prevent the bag from putting too much pressure on your back and shoulders).

3. Stay hydrated

Yes, the heatwaves of summer are probably gone for the year, but packing enough water is vital in any season.

For shorter hikes, this might just mean filling up your favourite water bottle.

hiker sipping from reservoir on trail

For longer treks, consider a hydration reservoir, which can carry anywhere from 0.5 to 10 L. No need to rummage in your pack for your water bottle (they always sink to the bottom!); just enjoy a sip from the handy tube.

Reservoirs are light-weight, reusable, and can be easily added in most backpacks.

4. Keep warm and dry

Fickle fall can transform a sunny morning into a wet, cold afternoon. After a forest hike, the wind atop the lookout can bite.

Dress in layers. If it’s warm, you can take a layer off to prevent sweating (moisture’s the enemy of fall hiking). If it’s cool, you can add a layer back on.

hikers wearing warm jackets and carrying hiking poles

Softshells are easily packable and light. They keep wind and water off, and are easy to take on and off at need.

Dressing for your trek? Check the forecast before hitting the trails, and never start a trail if you’re not sure you can make it back before dark.

Got more questions about your autumn adventures?

screencap of Facebook event (Sept. 25 Facebook Live Q&A)Our Ontario Parks rangers are going live with our SAIL gear experts!

We’ll answer all your questions about the fall camping and hiking season, and the gear you need.

Join us online at 7:30 pm on September 25!


Ontario Parks thanks corporate partners like SAIL for their support.

Interested in supporting Ontario Parks? Become a corporate partner, or make a donation here