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 on Saturday (Sept. 28) 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 for National Public Lands Day and you'll have a sense of pride knowing that you helped preserve a national treasure. You can find an event near you with this map.
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, which worked during the Great Depression to help preserve America's national treasures.
Even if you decide not to volunteer, you can still support your favorite public lands by visiting them. The National Park service will have one more fee-free event this year for Veterans Day on Nov. 11.
Need help choosing where to go? We've got loads of options below.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was published in September 2012.