Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Flickr/vastateparksstaff

Growing up in New England, I feel lucky that I got to experience both impeccable fall weather and what I consider to be the most beautiful phenomena in nature: the leaves changing colors. I remember going on weekend hiking trips with my family where all we did was look at the trees.  Things are quite a bit different now, living in Washington D.C. It’s so easy to get caught up in the city bustle and forget to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like a hike in the woods. That’s why it’s so important to me to take time for a special trip this fall in order to reconnect with what once was a staple of my childhood years and, in doing so, reconnect with myself.

According to the fall foliage guide on the Great Outdoors Recreation Page (GORP), peak leaf color will be in D.C. from October 30 to November 5. That only gives me a few weeks to plan a trip to check out the colors. For planning a fall foliage trip, there are plenty of online resources available, including our Forest Files feature “Falling for Autumn” and information through GORP, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. As I began my online research, I was surprised to find the variety of parks, forests, and wildlife refuges that were just a short drive from the city. So far, my top choices are:

Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah. Credit: Flickr/daveynin

But before I explore the East Coast colors at the end of the month, I’ll be travelling to Portland, Oregon next week. According to GORP, I’ll be arriving in Portland just as leaf color is hitting its peak. Perfect timing. While I won’t have time to travel outside the city, I found out that the Hoyt Arboretum hosts some of the city’s best fall foliage and is only a few subway stops from where I’ll be staying! Over the next few weeks, stay tuned for pictures and updates from my bi-coastal fall foliage adventures.

Hoyt Arboretum, Portland, OR. Credit: Flickr/tatooedme