Fall is knocking on our door. Kids have gone back to school, sweaters are starting to come out, and pumpkin spice will soon fill the shelves of every store and menu around.
There is something special about the start of Fall and the pumpkin spice flavor that defines it. Perhaps it is the extra kick to my coffee that perks up what becomes a routine and busy time of year. Perhaps that Fall flavor is reminiscent of home and all the things that encompass this magical season up north. Either way, Fall and its spicy flavor come swiftly marking a shift in temperatures, daylight, and conditions for the outdoor enthusiasts.
As an outdoor enthusiast and lover of fall and its flavors, I like to add some spice to my outdoor fall activities much like I enjoy that extra kick to my coffee. With mother nature providing vibrant colors and cool weather and my work life keeping me close to home, it is important for me to make the most of short days and magical fall moments. If you’re looking for ways to spice up your fall, but aren’t into pumpkin spice (or even if you are), I've made a quick list of my favorite ways to add a little spice to your season!
A hike is a great way to take in the fall air and changing colors.
Revisit the old in a new way
I don't know about you, but I find myself on the same trails repeatedly. Partially due convenience, partially because they are beautiful! To prevent boredom, I look for unique ways to revisit well-known trails. To do this, try to mix up your means of exploration. If you mostly run, try to bike, forage, hike, or another new sport (as allowed by the park and trail of course!)
This past fall, the snow came early; so to mix it up, I tried skiing on the bike trails (conditions allowing). I've also enjoyed skiing new trails and loops connecting local rivers and forests. This little change was challenging and provided a fun new perspective on my usual route.
Cross Country skiing can be difficult if you don't have the right gear!
If you’re looking to keep it simple, try looking for something you haven’t noticed before. Pay attention to the fine detail of your route and the surrounding landscape. Many of us get too caught up in day-to-day thoughts, worries, or the current activity we are doing without noticing what's around us. If you're unsure of where to start, try practicing your bird or plant identification. There are many great online and book resources for beginners to experts. What can you learn about your trail?
Another way to add spice to your fall adventure fun is to mix activities. This is great for those who seek creativity. Start by thinking about how you can combine paths, sports, and interests in a new way.
A few years ago, my spouse and I were torn about whether we should canoe or bike, so we opted to do both! We grabbed our bikes, a canoe, and a map. After some quick research, we found ourselves floating and swimming down a river with a canoe filled with mountain bikes! At the end of our river, we hid the canoe and then biked ATV trails back to our car. The silliness of it all was the most memorable, but so were the unexpected obstacles we faced and beautiful landscapes found along the way.
This option too can be as extravagant or simple as you please. An increasingly popular way to combine activities is to collect trash on your hike, bike, or run. You may also consider volunteering for MN DNR to help identify and remove invasive species, I.D. animals, or do some trail maintenance while out exploring. These combinations will have you feeling good, looking at your local trail in a detailed new way, and helping keep our trails and forests clean.
Explore a less-traveled path
This is for the research and map lovers out there. Are there any obscure roads, trails, or pieces of forest that you’ve never been to? Grab some maps, choose your means, and get out there!
When looking at maps I try to find old logging, forestry roads, or other lesser-known “trails”. Sometimes you’ll find truly magical and unexpected places… or sometimes you end up hauling your bike across a beaver dam! Do some research or be prepared for some possible type II fun. The conditions may not always be ideal, but you’ll certainly remember the fun you had!
Just be careful and avoid splinters!
Even local trail know-it-alls always have that one road they haven’t tried yet. So go ahead, hike, run, bike, canoe and give it a go!
The best part of spicing up your outdoor fall activity is that you can do it on any scale! This can be as small as an after-work activity or could be extended to a multiple week-long trip. Whether you go it alone or bring the ones you love, you’ll be sure to enjoy some fresh new stories and an extra spice of excitement. If you’re really dedicated, you may even pair it with a pumpkin spice treat!
Based out of Duluth, MN, Karina works as a psychotherapist and is an avid outdoorswoman in her free time. As a jack of all trades and master of none, she is often found outside climbing, running, biking, or dabbling in something new along the North Shore. When not at home, her passion for exploration and adventure takes her to the mountains out west, far off corners of the world, or visiting her family in Mexico. Drawing from a lifetime of travel, outdoor experiences, and a knack for some suffering, Karina writes content informed by the wisdom she has collected and her passion for adventure.