Why is Fall Hiking the Best Hiking?

A Q&A with Cate Starmer, author Best Tent Camping: New York State

Cate Starmer, co-author Best in Tent Camping: New York State (Photo courtesy Menasha Ridge Press)

Fall is here, and we all know it! For outdoor enthusiasts all around the country, the changing of the leaves also means the best hiking & camping of the year is upon us.

Recently, I had a chance to chat with Cate Starmer, co-author of Best Tent Camping: New York State, now in its 2nd edition from Menasha Ridge Press. Along with her co-authors, Aaron & Tim Starmer, Cate’s New York roots have given her a front-row seat to the wonders of being outside in the Fall.

Here’s a bit of what we talked about:

TRK: What makes Fall such a special season to outdoor folks? 

CS: The warm days are perfect for hiking and cool nights are great for a cozy campfire. Most trails are in better condition than the other “shoulder season” of Spring without mud, downed trees, or as many bugs. And, one of our favorite reasons to love the fall, the leaves changing color is such a dramatic backdrop for all outdoor adventures.

TRK: What is your fondest memory of a hiking or camping trip in Fall?

CS: Enjoying a popular hike like Breakneck Ridge along the Hudson with great weather. Plus, nothing beats a late season swim in nice weather after exerting yourself on the trail.

TRK: What do newcomers need to know in preparation for a Fall hiking/camping trip?

CS: Nights can be cooler than you may expect so be sure to pack a set of long johns and a hat.  It’s going to be less busy so you can certainly get away without campground reservations mid-week but continue to reserve ahead on weekends.  Be sure to pack some NY state apples—they are in peak season and travel well—for your trail snacks or, better yet, a special campfire dessert.  And don’t forget your camera to capture that fall foliage!

TRK: What are your top 3 places to hike/camp in the Fall?

  1. Adirondacks — Vermont gets all the glory but this region is actually larger than it’s neighboring state and some of the colors can be just as spectacular.
  2. Finger Lakes wine region — The water looks even more beautiful with the changing colors alongside. Plus it’s harvest season so the wineries are extra fun to visit.
  3. Somewhere with Aspens — For an option further afield, you can’t beat somewhere like the Maroon Bells in Colorado. Outside of Aspen, this trail has many of the eponymous trees along the route. What’s really neat about them is they share a route system so they all turn to a beautiful golden color at the same time.


BTC NY 2e coverAbout Cate Starmer

Cate was born on Cape Cod, and her parents’ many moves throughout the Northeast inspired her lifelong wanderlust. She pitched her first tent as a Girl Scout in Penn’s Woods, and her favorite camping spots are usually near water. Currently working for Fodor’s Travel in New York City, Cate often loads up her pack and escapes into the wilderness on the weekends. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

About Best in Tent Camping: New York State

From Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean, from the Adirondacks to the Catskills, pitching a tent in New York opens the door to endless adventure. This new edition of Best in Tent Camping: New York State captures the very latest information on 50 diverse locations. Writers and outdoors enthusiasts Aaron, Cate, and Timothy Starmer have compiled everything you need to know–in the state they know so well–to find the safe and scenic treasure-spot that’s just right for you.

Best in Tent Camping: New York State will release in its 2nd edition this Fall.


Find the Best Tent Camping guide for your home state!


Tanya Twerdowsky
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