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Divisions of the year are typically marked by weather patterns, but in the High Sierra, there’s a “fifth” season that only locals and those in-the-know talk about. It’s known as The Secret Season. A time of year when its still warm, like summer during the day but cool in the evenings. An occasion for the most popular hikes and trails to become peaceful and serene. This is your time to get away, unwind AND move around with pleasure.

Make Exercise Fun On Vacation This Secret Season

Image appears courtesy: Tahoe North

When we’re on vacation, we all want to disassociate from the daily slog of “grownup” life. Taste local wines, eat the tantalizing dessert and vegging out are high on the list. But why does exercising become a secondary item? Maybe it’s because the thought of getting into a gym and looking at a TV sounds downright BORING. Fortunately, in the High Sierra you don’t have to! You can bring out your inner kid and enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s just a few unique activities that you can enjoy this secret season.

Scare Your Pants Off… Safely Via Ferrata

Via Ferrata
Image appears courtesy: Alpenglow Expeditions

Olympic Valley’s Alpenglow Expeditions will debut Via Ferrata this fall. A popular way for inexperienced climbers to get a taste of serious climbing without the danger, the route is set by attaching a steel cable to the rock face along with climbing aids like iron rungs. The guided, protected climbing route at Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows will be the first of its kind in Lake Tahoe which will add to the already hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the region. For something a bit less adrenaline filled, check out Tahoe North’s secret season guide.

Leaf Peeping On Horseback

Learn more about it

Image appears courtesy: Bishop Visitor Center – Photo by: @beautymajic from IG

Fall leaf peeping is all about timing and we’re beginning to see hints of color across the High Sierra. One of the most unique ways to see this phenomenon is by horseback. The Eastern Sierra is very fortunate to have pack stations nearby each of the colorful canyons filled with Aspen. So, depending on length of ride, where they go and cost, you’ll find the perfect outfitter on Bishop’s Horseback page. As a sample, Convict Canyon and Convict Lake are an iconic fall color must-see destination. The lake itself sits at 7,850′ with mountains rising dramatically around it. For any ride, be sure to call ahead for times and availability.

Stargazing at Sentinel Dome

Learn more about it & other stargazing locations in Yosemite / Madera County

stargazing high sierra
Photo by: Darvin Atkeson – Image appears courtesy: Visit Yosemite | Madera County

Did you know the stars you can see each night depend on the time of year? Yup! That’s why Autumn is one of the favorite times of year for stargazers. It gives you an opportunity for one last glimpse of the “summer stars” and if you stay up late, get a peak into the winter ones. A great destination to take a peak at these heavenly bodies is Yosemite. In fact, it offers you many good locations to take them in. One of our favorite vantage points to stargaze is Sentinel Dome. With only a short 2.2 mile hike, you’ll find yourself thousands of feet above the valley floor in Yosemite AND have 360-degree views. Like any stargazing adventure, be sure to bring headlamps for the trek back to the car.

Vacation doesn’t have to be a time to stop working out. Instead, you can use the secret season as a way to explore the High Sierra, have some fun and most of all get exercise without even knowing.

Warning: feelings of peace and tranquility may occur.

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at

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