Hiking in late fall can be beautiful, even after fall foliage has come and gone, but many people I know have made the mistake of heading out for a journey in the late fall without being aware of the conditions they might face! So, before you head out to hike as the seasons change to winter, make sure to follow some of the things I do to make sure I have a fun hike, even if the season doesn't seem ideal for hiking! - Check the weather on the mountain or highest point of the trail. Often, a forest ranger can provide you this info depending on where you are hiking. If there is going to be snow and you are not prepared to handle those conditions, reschedule, or turn back before you reach the snow point. - Wear layers, and keep more in your pack. Even after checking the weather, you might be met unexpectedly with wind, sleet or snow, so make sure you have enough layers, extra layers, and a rain proof layer in your pack to help keep you warm and dry if the weather should suddenly change. - Use crampons if necessary. These crapons are special ice spikes strapped to boots. Those or similar traction devices can make slick, ice-covered stretches of trail much easier to travel. - Bring lights! Daylight is getting shorter and shorter, so leave early, and make sure you have sufficient light sources and batteries ready for dark conditions. - Know the basics of staying safe from open face avalanches and falling ice, if your location requires it. - Bring a portable shovel, in case you find any snow you need to clear. - Check recent trail reports of the trail you intend to go up to find our a real-experience, and if there is anything you should be aware of. - Avoid Cotton! This is pretty much a rule of hiking for me, but when you're hiking in conditions where there is a chance of getting wet, or getting cold, cotton is the worst thing to wear. Once wet, cotton can freeze, and does not wick moisture away, but stays wet and holds it in. Don't do it! - Keep your water bottles in a pair of wool socks to keep them warmer. Water hydrates better when slightly warm, and if it's freezing it's not going to help your body as much as it could if you take this simple step. - Follow all hiking rules you would in other seasons! This includes telling someone where you're going, packing the essentials, and more. Don't skimp: over plan for this season!