Leaves are changing color, and there’s a fresh autumnal smell in the air—what a good excuse to explore the great outdoors! Pull on your hiking boots, grab plenty of water, and perhaps a sweater too—because fall is the perfect season for hitting the trail with your little adventurers. To give you an idea of the adventures that lie ahead, we’ve rounded up the best autumn hikes in the country. From mountain rambles and forested strolls to historic walks and more, you can discover them all in the album below.

Castle Rock State Park – Los Gatos, Ca

On a high ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock State Park boasts amazing rock formations (called “bosses” by geologists). The best hike for families is the Castle Rock Loop that takes you through a mossy madrone forest. There’s easy bouldering for kids along the trail (no equipment needed) and you can take a short detour to Castle Rock Falls.

Insider Tip: After your hike, explore the nearby little town of Los Gatos.

Online: parks.ca.gov/

photo: Laura Hamilton via Flickr

Can you recommend a favorite fall hiking spot in your neck of the woods? Tell us about it in the comments below!

— Helen Walker Green