10 Best Bike Paths for Autumn Colors | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Autumn cycling offers an immersive foliage experience.
  • Carefully chosen paths cater to diverse preferences.
  • Expert selections ensure memorable autumn rides.

Autumn paints the landscape with an artist's palette of reds, oranges, and yellows.

Who wouldn't want to cycle through this riot of color?

There's no better way to experience the crisp fall air and vibrant foliage than on the saddle of a bike, pedaling down paths that are as breathtaking as they are varied.

Trust us, we’ve scouted the trails, checked the views, and the routes we've selected promise an awe-inspiring backdrop to your cycling adventure.



Katy Trail State Park (Missouri)

Can't decide where to see the most stunning autumn colors?

Look no further than Missouri's very own Katy Trail State Park.

Ever dreamt of cycling along a river adorned with a mosaic of reds, oranges, and yellows?

This scenic masterpiece awaits you on the 240-mile Katy Trail, a flattish journey through the heart of America's river valley landscapes.

Eager to hit the trail?

Here's what you need to know:

  • Path: It's a biking haven built on the historic Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad.
  • Distance: A 240-mile stretch connecting Clinton to Machens.
  • Access Points: With 26 trailheads, jumping on and off is a cinch.

Autumnal Brilliance: As summer fades, the trail is set ablaze with the vibrant fall foliage.

Picture this: the Missouri River on one side, a tunnel of fiery leaves above.

It's nature's very own kaleidoscope!

Not Just a Ride: The Katy isn't only about pedaling; it's a journey through time.

Four restored railroad depots en route add a dash of history to your adventure.

  • Pro Tip: Want to make it an epic bikepacking trip? Amtrak's got you covered with bike-friendly trains coordinating with the trail.

Ready to immerse yourself in one of Missouri's treasures?

Grab your bike, a camera (trust me, you'll want it), and relish the autumn splendor on the Katy Trail.

Don't just take my word for it—those 26 trailheads are inviting you to find your own favorite spot.

Where will you begin your autumn escapade?

Great Allegheny Passage (Pennsylvania and Maryland)

Ever dreamed of pedaling through a kaleidoscope of fall colors?

Well, grab your bike because the Great Allegheny Passage is calling your name!

This 150-mile gem offers a corridor draped in autumn's best attire, perfect for cyclists who love a blend of nature and nostalgia.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Distance: 150 miles
  • Starting Point: Cumberland, MD
  • Ending Point: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: +1800 ft / -2300 ft
  • Trail Surface: A mix of gravel, crushed limestone, and asphalt

Did you know that the GAP Trail, as it's affectionately known, is one of the longest rail-trails not just in the East but in the entire United States?

And the best part is, you don't need any permits to embark on this adventure.

Whether you're a cycling newbie or a pedaling pro, this trail welcomes you with open arms – or open trails, to be literal.

Imagine whizzing past rivers, gliding over impressive bridges, and taking in historic sites, all while the leaves transition to those warm, cozy hues.

  • Best Time to Visit: May to October
  • Difficulty: Beginner to Intermediate
  • Special notes: No need to worry about steep climbs – most of the trail keeps it chill with a gentle incline.

Each twist and turn of the Great Allegheny Passage promises postcard-worthy scenery.

From Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands to Maryland's mountainous backdrop, you're in for an unforgettable ride.

And with roughly 130 miles of the trail in Pennsylvania, you'll spend plenty of time exploring its diverse landscapes.

Ready to pedal through a painter's palette of fall foliage?

Your bike adventure on the Great Allegheny Passage awaits!

Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia and North Carolina)

Ever dreamt of pedaling through a tunnel of fiery reds, vibrant oranges, and golden yellows?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not just a road; it's a spectacle, especially during autumn.

Can you picture yourself cycling amidst nature's grand finale of colors before winter's arrival?

Spanning across Virginia and North Carolina, this 469-mile route is a cyclist's bucket list journey.

Imagine rolling hills, serene forests, and panoramic views — sounds like a page from a fairy tale, doesn't it?

  • Milepost 10.7 marks Ravens Roost Overlook. Elevating you 3,200 feet above sea level, it serves you a sprawling canvas of the valley below. The crisp autumn air here is as refreshing as the sights.
  • Julian Price Memorial Park and Price Lake Overlook at Milepost 296.7 bring you closer to the water's edge with reflections of fall colors dancing on the surface.

Remember, no designated bike lanes exist on the parkway, so it's a mix of caution and thrill!

Bike-friendly facilities are sparse, with significant distances between them, adding a dash of adventure to your ride.

Elevation ranges from 649 to 6,053 feet, which means unpredictable weather and potentially challenging climbs — are you up for it?

Here's a little secret: the varying elevations mean an extended fall color season.

So if you miss peak colors in one spot, just pedal to a higher or lower elevation.

Isn't that neat?

Grab your gear, plan your route, and don't forget your camera.

This is one bike path where you'll want to capture every moment.

Ready for an autumn adventure like no other on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Let's ride!

C&O Canal Towpath (Washington, D.C. to Maryland)

Hey there, are you searching for a breathtaking bike path steeped in history and natural beauty?

Look no further than the C&O Canal Towpath.

This trail stretches an impressive 184.5 miles from the heart of Washington, D.C., to Cumberland, MD.

Imagine pedaling alongside the serene Potomac River, enveloped by a kaleidoscopic array of autumn colors.

  • Length: 184.5 miles
  • Locations: Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, MD
  • Seasonal Highlight: Fall colors

Here’s why the C&O Canal Towpath should be on your autumn cycling bucket list:

  • Scenic Splendor: The canopy overhead bursts into brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds each fall, setting the perfect backdrop for a crisp ride.
  • Historic Charm: As you glide along the path, you're retracing the route once taken by canal mules, towing boats loaded with goods.

The path is both rider-friendly and filled with historical markers that tell tales of its past.

And whether you're up for the entire 184.5-mile journey or just a section, the C&O Canal Towpath offers plenty of access points and amenities along the way.

  • Trailheads: Easily accessible from various points in D.C. and Maryland.
  • Facilities: Rest stops, picnic areas, and bike rental options abound.

Have you got your bike ready?

Whether it's a leisurely ride or a long-distance challenge you're after, this path welcomes all.

Just picture the serene river on one side, the rustling of leaves under your wheels, and the joy of Autumn riding.

Trust me, this is one ride you won't want to miss!

Mickelson Trail (South Dakota)

Have you ever dreamed of biking through a cascade of autumn colors?

If so, the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota is your golden ticket.

Picture this: a 109-mile journey where every pedal brings you into a fresh, vibrant scene of fall in full swing.

What makes the Mickelson Trail a top pick for your autumn adventure list?

Let’s dive in:

  • Length: At 109 miles, it’s just the right distance for a multi-day excursion or a series of short jaunts.
  • Scenery: The Black Hills transform into an artist's palette of reds, oranges, and golds.
  • Surface: Crushed gravel makes for a smooth ride, whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a casual rider.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what to expect:

  • Starting Point: Deadwood, a town alive with Old West history.
  • The Journey: You'll travel through forests and open meadows, say hello to local wildlife, and be treated to panoramic mountain views.
  • Highlights: Look out for the famous carvings at Crazy Horse, the serene beauty of the ghost town Rochford, and iconic Mount Rushmore is just a detour away.

Thinking about stops and logistics?

  • Parking is convenient at both ends, Deadwood and Edgemont, with additional spots along the route like Hill City and Crazy Horse.
  • Taking your time? Plan stops for food and rest, and if you're with family, don't rush! The trail is kid-friendly and the perfect setting for teaching little ones to love cycling.

So, have you got your bike ready?

The Mickelson Trail is waiting for you to kick up those leaves and create memories that last a lifetime.

Remember, there’s no need to race – unless you’re racing to catch the sunset over the Black Hills!

Swamp Rabbit Trail (South Carolina)

Ever ridden through a kaleidoscope of colors?

You can on the Swamp Rabbit Trail in the heart of South Carolina.

Picture yourself pedaling along the 22-mile stretch as autumn paints the trees with a brilliant palette of reds, oranges, and yellows.

But where does this picturesque journey begin?

Starting in Cleveland Park and winding your way to downtown Travelers Rest, you become part of the scenic beauty that unfolds along the Reedy River and through an array of parks and forests.

How long will this adventure take?

If you're pressing forward without many stops, estimate about an hour for the 11.4 miles one-way.

Love a leisurely pace or eager to add a few breaks to your trip?

Aim for 1.5-2 hours one-way, with a full round-trip taking around 3-4 hours including some time-outs to explore.

And, with a completely paved route and minimal elevation gain, this trail is a breeze for cyclists of all levels.

Looking for more than just a ride?

The trail is dotted with cozy cafés, tempting breweries, and plenty of photo-worthy sights.

Want to make a day of it?

Don't worry about the gear—bike rentals offer helmets and storage, ensuring you're all set for a delightful day out.

Here's a quick glance at what you need to know:

  • Trail Length: 22 miles (round trip)
  • Travel Time: 1 hour one-way (fast pace), 3-4 hours round-trip (with breaks)
  • Accessibility: Fully paved, suitable for various bikes
  • Amenities: Bike rentals with equipment, plus food and drink options along the way

Remember, as you glide along this trail, you're riding the rails of history where trains once roared.

Now it's your turn to make tracks.

So why not saddle up and see where the path takes you?

After all, autumn waits for no one, and those colors?

They're calling your name!

Minuteman Bikeway (Massachusetts)

Have you ever craved a serene bike ride under a canopy of fiery fall foliage?

Look no further than the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts, where autumn brings a mesmerizing display of colors along its 10-mile stretch.

Starting in the bustling academic city of Cambridge, this trail takes you on a historical journey to the heart of Bedford, MA.

It's not just a path; it's a route steeped in American history, winding you through the area where the nation's fight for independence began.

Are you ready for some leaf-peeping?

Here's what to expect:

  • Length: 10 miles
  • End Points: Bedford MA to Cambridge MA
  • Terrain: Smooth paved path, suitable for all skill levels

The path itself is an autumn dream.

Lush trees form a vibrant overhead tapestry in shades of crimson, gold, and amber.

You're not simply on a bike ride; you're part of a living impressionist painting!

Fancy a quick detour?

Along the way, you’ll skim by the edge of the Great Meadows, a natural haven perfect for snapping those Instagram-worthy nature shots.

Thinking about a break?

The towns of Lexington and Arlington offer charming spots to refuel with a coffee or a quick bite.

This route isn't a hidden secret, and you'll be sharing the beauty with locals and fellow biking enthusiasts.

Remember to say hi - it's part of the charm!

Biking isn't the only way to enjoy the trail; walkers, joggers, and cross-country skiers revel in the trail’s year-round appeal.

Parking Tips:

  • Start or end your journey with convenient parking at South Road in Bedford, or at Alewife MBTA Station in West Cambridge.
  • Additional parking available at 25 Drake Rd in Arlington.


Did you know the Bikeway has hall-of-fame status?

Add it to your personal hall-of-fame of memories this autumn season.

Get your bike ready and experience the majestic Minuteman Bikeway as it blooms in an autumnal blaze.

Virginia Creeper Trail (Virginia)

Ever wanted to pedal through a painting?

The vibrant Virginia Creeper Trail is just that in autumn.

Stretching 34 miles, this trail is a converted rail line that's now a parade of color in fall.

The beauty kicks off in Abingdon, a charming town with a welcoming spirit that echoes through the mountains to Whitetop Station.

It's a diverse ride; you'll whisk by rolling farmlands, ease through quiet forests, and coast alongside babbling streams.

Want the inside scoop?

The trail's not flat—there's a gentle slope if you start from Whitetop.

Thanks, gravity!

Did you know?

The Creeper is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a network that transforms old railways into trails.

Here’s what you need to explore:

  • Trail Sections: Feeling energetic? Go end-to-end. Need a shortcut? There are several entry and exit points to customize your journey.
  • The Perfect View: Trestle bridges are your lookouts—especially Trestle Bridge #46. Stop and snap a photo!

Bring a light jacket; the mountain air can be crisp.

And while bikes are the stars, hikers find solace here too.


  • Grab a shuttle to Whitetop if you prefer a downhill cruise.
  • Abingdon to Damascus is a flatter 16 miles, so it's kind on your calves.

The Virginia Creeper is your ticket to leaf-peeping bliss.

So, grab your helmet and a water bottle—you're about to collect moments and miles! 🍁🚴

Cape Cod Rail Trail (Massachusetts)

Have you heard of the Cape Cod Rail Trail?

It's like a hidden corridor of color in Massachusetts, especially come autumn.

Imagine peering through a kaleidoscope as you bike, walk, or jog along this 25-mile stretch of scenic vistas.

Yes, 25 miles!

That's a whole lot of ground to cover, isn't it?

Starting in South Dennis and winding all the way to Wellfleet, your journey on the trail will be constantly framed by a vibrant palette of fall foliage.

It's a painter's dream and a photographer's delight!

The leaves turn these fiery reds, deep oranges, and striking yellows that artists wish they could capture perfectly.

  • Location: South Dennis to Wellfleet, MA
  • Distance: 25 miles
  • Terrain: Mostly flat with some grades in Orleans and Wellfleet
  • Scenery: Forests, ponds, cranberry bogs

You'll slice through quaint towns and open landscapes, cruising past cranberry bogs and glinting ponds.

And here's a fun fact: This trail is a revamp of the old railways that once ferried vacationers to Cape Cod.

How cool is that history riding alongside you?

What to Expect?

  • Smooth, paved surfaces ideal for biking
  • Gentle grades, suitable for all fitness levels
  • Well-marked crossings to keep you safe

Whether you're a local or just visiting, take a day to bask in the autumn splendor.

You're doing more than just getting some exercise; you're gathering memories that stick, just like leaves under autumn-soaked tires.

So, grab your bike or lace up your shoes – the Cape Cod Rail Trail is waiting, and Mother Nature's got quite the display in store for you!

Lake Champlain Bikeways (Vermont and New York)

Have you ever imagined cycling somewhere that feels like an autumnal painting come to life?

The Lake Champlain Bikeways are calling your name!

This network, weaving through Vermont, New York, and even into Québec, is a feast for the senses, especially in the fall.

Picture this: you're pedaling along, with the amber glow of fall foliage surrounding you, and the serene expanse of Lake Champlain beside you.

Can you see it?

The Bikeways cover an impressive 350 miles, so no matter your skill level, there's a route that's just right for you.

Along the way, you'll be dazzled by vistas of the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains, both radiating with vibrant autumn colors.

Here's what you can look forward to on your ride:

  • The Burlington Bike Path: A scenic 28-mile roundtrip that's a local favorite for stunning lake views.
  • Vermont’s Island Line Trail: A can't-miss 14-mile journey with panoramic water scenes that will make your heart skip a beat.
  • Drawbridge Route: Get a taste of local history as you glide over Vermont’s unique movable drawbridge.

Riding through the Lake Champlain Valley, you'll connect with nature and history alike.

You might stop for a fresh snack at Pomykala Farm or take a leisurely break at a calming waterfront spot.

And don't forget, the best part of traveling by bike is the pace – slow enough to soak in every color and detail of the journey, but fast enough to feel the crisp autumn breeze.

So, are you ready to add the Lake Champlain Bikeways to your autumn adventure bucket list?

Grab your helmet, and let's go! 🚴‍♂️🍂