Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Where to fly for a week in mid October?
Display Avatars Sort By:
Chris Martin

Locale: Finger Lakes
Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/27/2012 19:11:44 MDT Print View

Having lived in the Finger Lakes region my whole life, I've never seen a desert, glacier, or anything above 5,000 feet.

I have dreams of hiking the PCT, and want a taste of open Western backcountry. Stark, imposing, arid terrain. With a precious 9 days off work next month, I think it can happen.

Is there anywhere that I can fly to and get hiking near the airport, within a few hours' walk or via public transit? A rewarding 5-7 day trek that I can plan on a couple weeks' notice?

My gear is versatile enough to hike anywhere that doesn't get much below freezing. 15-mile days with a 4,000 foot gain are no problem.

Fishing for ideas, help a wandering soul out!

Edited by hope_for_gorilla on 09/27/2012 19:34:22 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Couple Ideas on 09/27/2012 19:57:56 MDT Print View

You'd have to rent a car but here are some ideas.

Gila Wilderness, NM
I actually did a trip here in October. Its a great place. Cool canyons, and a remoteness you've probably never experienced in the east. Maps can be hard to find so plan ahead on this (I'd order them) so you aren't wasting time driving to a ranger station. What I like about it was that it never got super cold when I was there. I think it was below freezing but not super cold.

Lost Creek Wilderness, Colorado
Doing this one in October is iffy but it is close to Denver. There are some cool canyons in the lower areas and climbing higher gives you views of Pikes Peak and across South Park. If you're lucky you should be able to get a good trip in before the snow falls. I did a trip there in October and we were fine for the first four days. The weather was nice during the day but dropped to about 15-20 at night. On the fifth day it dumped about a foot of snow on us. We bailed mostly because we were afraid our car would get stuck if that kept up. Parking in a less remote area then we did would help with this. I don't think you'd need to pack snowshoes but you'd need to be prepared to deal with a snowstorm if one blew in (ours wasn't in the weather forecast so surprises do happen).

Haven't anything there but there would be some great western landscapes to check out. Check out for his reports on hiking in Utah. Far from public transit though.

If you want to see mountains a car is nice because if gives you flexibility. If you get snowed out of the high country you can drive somewhere else and do day hikes. The Gila and Utah are your best bet for longer backpacking trips. Lost Creek could work but you'd have to be prepared to deal with snow.

Edited by Cameron on 09/27/2012 20:02:38 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/27/2012 20:59:45 MDT Print View

Mid October can start getting cold at higher elevations on PCT in Oregon and Washington. I think California is the same. Or it's raining and blizardy.

Although, right at the moment there is no bad weather in sight - check out

Unfortunately, there isn't good transit. Probably have to rent a car.

You might get a ride from someone - maybe this site, or, or

I was just in Goat Rocks which is pretty nice. Mount Adams is mostly closed by forest fire as is are around Three Sisters. I walked around Mt Hood recently, that was great.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/27/2012 21:18:13 MDT Print View

Santa Fe/Albuquerque. Catch the balloon festival, and hike part of the Grand Enchantment Trail. Although I sure like the Moab area.

Kimberly Wersal
(kwersal) - MLife

Locale: Western Colorado
Re: Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/27/2012 23:08:35 MDT Print View

Fly into Flagstaff and take public transportation to the Grand Canyon. October is a prime time of year for the GC.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/28/2012 07:30:21 MDT Print View

I was considering going to Grand Canyon in the next few weeks. Even now the temps down in the canyon are in the 90's...yikes. I thought it would be cooler at the bottom by now, or maybe that is a bit above average temps for this time of year.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
me too- raises hand! on 09/28/2012 07:36:05 MDT Print View

You know, I was just contemplating the same thing....I might be between jobs very soon here and have a very rare week off from work (I'm one of those who has worked their whole life without much time off). But, I'm dying to go to Yellowstone. I'm wondering to myself if it would be safe for me to go there on a solo trip in mid October...

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
YNP in October on 09/28/2012 08:04:39 MDT Print View

Yellowstone can be dicey in mid-October, with winter right around the corner. If you are in the middle of the Park, a heavy snow could strand you. If the weather holds you might have 60*F days, with lows below freezing. If I were to do it, I would choose a lower evevation spot near a road. Slough Creek would be my 1st choice, in the north of the Park. It's is a beautiful valley, very sought after during the summer. You'll be able to have a campfire to keep you warm and toasty, and for evening entertainment. It is fairly open country, so you can spot the errant bear from afar. It's just off the road that runs from Mammoth to Cooke City, and this road is kept open all winter (the only YNP road that is). Fly into Bozeman, rent a car, and drive through Livingston to Mammoth. Pre-hike lodging can be had in Livingston or Gardiner, or at the Mammoth Lodge. There's a campground at the trailhead to Slough where you can stay also, and I doubt it will be full that time of the season.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
YNP in October on 09/28/2012 08:26:20 MDT Print View


Gary's weather advice is spot-on, but I'd take a chance, as October can really be one of the best times in the Park. I'm a Slough Creek veteran, and that area is wonderful, especially if you are an angler. I'd also consider the Bechler River Trail, about 30 miles from near Old Faithful to the Ranger Station in the Southwest corner of the Park. Easy hiking (follows the river so it's mostly downhill), crosses the Continental Divide twice, great canyon scenery, followed by the wide-open Bechler Meadows, with a view of the Tetons, lower elevation than most of the Park, and two wonderful hot springs easily accessible. The only downside is you'd have to arrange a shuttle, which can be pricey.

The adjacent Grand Teton NP has some great fall hiking too.

Good luck, Richard

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Tahoe Rim Trail on 09/28/2012 14:18:20 MDT Print View

Fly in to Reno. A shuttle trip between the airport and either Tahoe City or South Lake Tahoe cost round trip $70-$80 for a 70-90 minute ride. I believe there is also a shuttle into Truckee, but I'm not positive.

The entire TRT is 164 miles, so probably more than 7 days, unless you make big miles, but there's plenty of section hikes. You can walk onto the TRT from Tahoe City, but the hotels are expensive. In South Lake, you can get a motel in October in the $40-$50 range, and it's a $25-$30 cab ride to either of the Kingsbury trailheads. There's a bus that goes up to Kingsbury as well, from with it would be a couple miles walk to the TH. Cabs can pick you up or drop you off at other trailheads from South Lake, (Spooner Summit, Echo Lake,both of which have pay phones) but you're looking at an expensive ride. Echo Lake offers access to Desolation Wilderness, which would probably offer the scenery you are looking for.

From Truckee,you can get to a couple PCT trailheads via taxi. Truckee hotels are also a bit on the pricey side.

The only place that requires a permit is Desolation Wilderness, and after Oct 1, they go off quota, so it's just a matter of submitting a request.

There's also a bus that runs down Highway 395 (that I've not personally used) that could get you down to the Yosemite/Ansel Adams Wilderness area, but you'd lose some time in transit.

You could also check out this thread for 48-72 hours fly-in trips or this one where the poster used public transit to go to/from Sacramento to Seqouia-Kings Canyon, definitely the altitude and scenery you are looking for.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/28/2012 15:32:26 MDT Print View

I'd recommend the California Sierra, too. By mid-October, it's too apt to be snowing at high elevations in the Rockies and raining in Washington and Oregon!

Do expect freezing nights at higher altitudes, though--no getting away from that!

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Where to fly for a week in mid October? on 09/28/2012 15:49:20 MDT Print View

Fly into Vegas and you have lots of options

Southern Utah is close. We did this last October and it was perfect. The weather was nice for hiking the wet slot canyons of Zion. There seem to be so many nice options throughout the southern part of Utah.

Grand Canyon. I had first planned to hike here last October but did Utah instead when campsites were no being confirmed. They eventually came in. I think the temps are pretty good there in October.

Death Valley is also not far from Vegas. I stopped by there for a few days last October too. It was not too hot. It was beautiful but not as spectacular as Utah to me. Regardless, I would like to spend a bit more time there.

Its even pretty nice here in southern Appalachia in October. Its hard to go wrong anywhere that time of year.

Edited by alexdrewreed on 09/28/2012 15:52:17 MDT.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Southern Utah on 10/01/2012 20:41:18 MDT Print View

It's your lucky day. Weather in southern Utah, which more than meets all of your criteria and is possibly the most amazing place in the American West, is perfect in October.

Sierras are too dicey in October. You might get up to the worthy stuff which is the very high elevation areas (10k+), but just as likely, you'll be snowed out or feel reluctant leaving your car at a trailhead that could snow your car in. Save Sierras for July-Sept timeframe, another year.

- Elizabeth

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
@ Gary and Richard on 10/01/2012 22:43:57 MDT Print View

Thanks to both of you for the advice on Yellowstone. I've been thinking about this A LOT, and I'm leaning towards Grand Canyon or southern Utah instead. I guess the thought of me going solo into grizzly country in the fall turned out not to be for me. My unemployed friend, however, has a camper van with a heater, and I may be able to talk her into taking me up there! We will see.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gary in person tonight- What a cool dude!!

Edited by flutingaround on 10/01/2012 22:45:38 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
YNP in October on 10/02/2012 00:59:13 MDT Print View

Raquel, I certainly enjoyed meeting you tonight also, at the Boulder Lightpackers meeting. It was a good session with other intrepid/creative hikers. Lots of good gear discussions and demonstrations by everyone.

As for YNP, if you go to Mammoth to pick your BC permits, the head backcountry ranger is Jim Williams, a fine person and a friend. Find him, he'll steer you right in Yellowstone, any way that you'd like to work it.

But I think something like Canyonlands would be far better for you during this season. It's starting to get cold in the northern Rockies, and up north that could be problematic for your gear kit, unless you augment what you plan to carry. But you can plan to have a campfire, which to me is always a good thing when it's cold.

BPL, know that Raquel is an ardent player, already a pretty lightweight hiker, eager to learn new techniques, and a zest to do more. She's a very good and decent person as well. Please welcome her to the fold.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 10/02/2012 07:58:45 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Raquel on 10/02/2012 16:44:45 MDT Print View

Gary, I most definitely got that impression from the quality of her posts!

I hope both Chris and Raquel find great places to go!

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Raquel and Mary D. on 10/02/2012 17:09:35 MDT Print View

Mary, Raquel and I visited about BPL stuff, and she mentioned that she's a big fan of yours (as am I). She'll be pleased to read your post.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Raquel and Mary D. on 10/02/2012 17:16:26 MDT Print View

same here

Mary has a lot of wisdom. You can't go wrong listening to her advice.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
As far as you can go. on 10/02/2012 17:29:35 MDT Print View

Mid-October, I'm going to Adak in the Aleutian Island. As far as you can go without a passport. Also, about as far west as you can possibly go (177 W).

But it's a very long haul from the East Coast. Then there's the jet lag. And there are no glaciers. Or trees. Just a caribou-infested, windy island in the middle of a cold ocean. Never mind.

Raquel Rascal

Locale: Rocky Mtn. West
yes Mary is da bomb on 10/02/2012 18:29:23 MDT Print View

says this youngin' (with the upmost respect).

Mary, it's because of you that I'm looking very closely at the Elemental Horizons Kalais pack. I love your posts!

*sorry to highjack the thread*

Gary- you are too kind! I just hope to find more ultralighters or "lighters" to go out into the wild with soon.