Although it may not feel like it, today is the start of my favorite time of the year! It’s the first day of fall, people! Who’s excited?

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons. The very best reason being the beautiful fall colors happening right outside my window. I am lucky enough to have a window in my room overlooking the bluffs where I can watch the side of the bluffs turn from vibrant green colors to bright oranges and reds.

Speaking of bluffs, are you looking for something adventurous to do in Winona to celebrate the first weekend of fall? If so, I have the perfect activity for you: Hiking! There are many bluffs, trails, and overlooks near Winona that make for a great time with your friends or family.

Garvin Heights is one of my favorite places to hike when it comes to the fall season because the view from the bluffs is even more gorgeous as the Mississippi River valley is lined with exquisite colors.

I have lived in Winona for about three consecutive school years now and have hiked Garvin dozens of times with my friends and family. In all of the times that I have hiked it, I have never been disappointed by the view.

If you haven’t made it up to the overlook yet, fall time is when I highly recommend you check it out! I know I get antsy being stuck in my room doing homework or studying all day and getting out for some fresh air is an awesome study break.

Garvin is a very convenient place to visit because it is so close to campus that you can even walk to it. There are even stairs at the bottom of the bluff that will take you all the way up to the tippy top.

The hike up the Garvin stairs is a challenge but it’s definitely doable; especially if you’re looking to get a workout in. Friends also make it easier! Trust me, nothing is worse than hiking a 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado like I did this summer– this is a breeze!

I personally enjoy the hike on a cooler fall day because it makes it easier when I’m not sweating from the hot sun. It’s worth the sweat once you get to the top though. Also, there are spots on the trail specifically designed to take breaks every once in a while and trust me, I take advantage of those spots too.

If a challenging hike is not for you, you can simply drive to the top of Garvin Heights and pull right up to the scenic overlook area. How nice!

Sugar Loaf, the tall rock formation that you can see from just about anywhere in Winona, is another favorite hiking destination of mine during the fall season. This hike is about the same as Garvin as far as difficulty level; however, it doesn’t give the option to drive your car to the very top.

Also unlike Garvin, the hike to Sugar Loaf doesn’t have stairs. Therefore, the hike to Sugar Loaf is a little more challenging due to the terrain being more rough. Sugar Loaf is still just as beautiful up at the top– that is, if you’re in the mood for a little challenge.

Lastly, my friends are big into photography so we always bring home some amazing photos atop Garvin Heights during the fall season. Be sure to take advantage of a great photo opportunity while you are hiking!

Whether it’s a casual hike with my friends after classes, or a quick drive up to the scenic overlook area, Garvin Heights and Sugar Loaf are just a few of the many places that make autumn in Winona that much more enjoyable.

I highly encourage everyone to get out there and hike the bluffs around Winona. I promise you will not regret it.