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Weekend Edition: 3 Frugal Fall Family Activities

Hip hip hooray! In celebration of Christopher Columbus Day on October 13th, we have compiled three of our favorite frugal fall activities to enjoy with your family on this upcoming holiday weekend. There can be many ways to spend time together as a family during the fall and if you’re wise about it, many of those things can be done on a budget without compromising on the fun!

From going on a hike, taking a leaf stroll or organic apple picking, the activities don't have to stop there either. After you come home from the hike, end it with a movie night at home, bake a warm apple pie together or enjoy some other fall treat. Not only will this provide for more fun together, but it will also be cheaper than buying something from the store. Add to the fun with small prizes for the children for some of the events. By doing this with a number of families, the cost can be spread among all involved to help lower the overall cost.

Take a leaf stroll. Stroll through your local state park collecting leaves, pine-cones and acorns with your little ones. You can bring these natural pieces home to use as decorations throughout fall and upcoming winter. Another fun activity is to identify all of the leaves that you see by using a leaf identification app on your smart phone (try LeapSnap).

Go for a hike. A popular past time for many during the fall is to enjoy the leaves changing color. If weather permits, a great way to do this is to enjoy a hike as a family. The distance can vary, of course, but going for a hike most likely will be free and can be a great way to spend time with friends or family. Adding a picnic lunch or dinner in can make it into an enjoyable afternoon or early evening for little cost.

Organic apple picking. Spend a fall afternoon with your family at a local organic apple orchard picking apples. If you choose an apple orchard that is organic and allows you to pick your own apples, you avoid shipping emissions, pesticides and you help the environment. This activity is delightful to children too. They will enjoy picking fresh, ripe fruit directly from the tree. Be prepared and bring a picnic blanket, paring knife and a little organic caramel for dipping!

Top 5 Basic Tips for Fall Hiking

No bugs. Low humidity. Zero crowds. Autumn colors. Make a few easy adjustments to your warm-weather hiking routine and enjoy the perks of fall weather. The backcountry is bursting with fall color, crowds have thinned to a trickle, and the bugs are all but gone. But like any type of recreation, hiking carries certain risks, and your safety is best ensured with preparation and caution. And shorter days, colder nights and quickly-changing weather like we often experience in autumn in the mountains can make even a simple day hike more risky than your average summer excursion.When hiking in the fall, pack some extra caution into your backpack.

Carefully choose your hike destination, and take the time to check trail conditions and weather forecasts before you head out. Let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return. Bring warm clothes, and be prepared for any weather. And pack the backcountry essentials that could save your life should you get lost or injured.

Here are some tips for safe backcountry hiking in autumn from the Washington Trails Association:

Check the latest trail conditions. Check for recent trip reports from other hikers to confirm your chosen trail is snow-free. And always call ahead to local ranger stations for conditions.

Let someone know where you are going. Tell them when you expect to return (and call them when you do return). If your destination changes, follow up and let someone know. Here is an easy form to share your hike itinerary with someone.

Always pack the 10 essentials on any hike. These include a topographic map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, firestarter, matches, sun protection, a pocket knife, first-aid kit, and flashlight. In unpredictable weather, it’s also a good idea to bring some sort of emergency shelter, even on a day hike. Hiking poles or ice axes can be of help on stretches of unexpected icy or snow-covered patches. Remember, cell phones don't always get reception and batteries can fade quickly in cold weather. They are not a substitute for carrying the backcountry essentials that could save your life.

Watch weather forecasts. This time of year, weather can turn cold and rainy, even snowy, in an instant. Hikers should turn back if encountering treacherous snow and ice unless equipped with an ice ax and knowledgeable about how to use it, and be aware of avalanche danger. 

Be aware of hunting seasons. Autumn is hunting season, and each year hunters come out to pursue elk, deer, and other game.