Summer may be coming to a close, but that doesn't mean you have to bolt the door and hide inside. Fall is the perfect time to take a walk in the woods. From the aspens in California to the oaks in Virginia, leaves are changing color, and combined with the crisp, cool days of autumn — and the changing season makes for excellent hiking conditions.


You can take advantage of the season next Saturday (Sept. 29) by heading to your favorite national park, national forest or wildlife preserve where you can enjoy nature, as well as free admission for the whole family.  Better yet, sign up to volunteer at your favorite public land on next Saturday for National Public Lands Day and you'll not only have a sense of pride knowing that you helped preserve a national treasure, you'll also get a coupon to use for one free admission at any park of your choosing that can be redeemed any time in the next year. You can find  list of participating national parks here.


National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands. It began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers and has grown into a huge movement to carry on the tradition of the Civilian Conservation Corps that worked during the Great Depression to help preserve America's national treasures.


In 2011, more than 170,000 volunteers worked on National Public Lands Day at 2,067 sites in every state, the District of Columbia and in many U.S. territories.


Even if you decide not to volunteer, you can still support your favorite public lands by visiting them on Sept. 29 and enjoying the free admission. The National Park service will have one more fee-free event this year for Veterans Day Weekend, Nov. 10-12. 


Need help choosing where to go? Check out MNN's guide to the national park system.


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