DETROIT – Fall colors are already showing in some parts of Michigan and soon all of our trees will be looking like autumn.
Michigan.org has listed the top places, including parks and road trips, to see some of the best fall colors Michigan has to offer.
M-22 and the Leelanau Peninsula
The Lake Michigan shore may be at her loveliest along M-22 in autumn. Tracing the edges of the Leelanau Peninsula, M-22 passes through brilliant fall color, offering glimpses of Lake Michigan along the way. The route begins near Manistee, in Michigan’s prime fruit country. Admire trees heavy with ripe fruit and stop at a roadside produce stand before approaching the dramatic hills and blazing colors of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
M-201 and Leelanau State Park
An 8-mile detour off M-22, wooded M-201 leads leaf-peepers to Leelanau State Park near Northport. Drive beneath a blaze of autumn color to this park surrounded on three sides by Lake Michigan. Once there, colorful hiking trails, surf-washed beaches and the brilliant white 1858 Grand Traverse Lighthouse offer reason to stretch your legs and linger.
M-37 and Old Mission Peninsula
Old Center Road (M-37) travels up the center of Old Mission Peninsula, a thin sliver of land that reaches up into Grand Traverse Bay. The route twists and turns over hilly landscapes of tidy golden-hued vineyards and orange-and-red hardwood groves, all of it backed with views of sparkling Lake Michigan. Look for opportunities to buy locally-grown apples and pears or stop at one of a dozen wineries occupying Old Mission, including award-winners Brys Estate, Two Lads Winery and Chateau Grand Traverse.
US-31 to Petoskey
US-31 hugs the Lake Michigan shore as it makes its way north from Traverse City. It can be tough to keep your eyes on the road, with turquoise-blue Lake Michigan to the west and brilliant autumn foliage to the east.
US-12 and Southwest Michigan
Admire the Warren Dunes in autumn, when cooler temperatures keep the crowds at bay, before heading to US-12 and southwest Michigan’s beauty. The hues of maple and birch trees brighten a landscape dotted occasionally by tiny towns, roadside galleries and farms bringing in the last of the harvest.
M-29 from Detroit to Port Huron
Michigan’s I-94 is better known for its commercial traffic. But the expressway marks the beginning of a lovely road trip in autumn. Just outside of Detroit, I-94 reaches M-29, a meandering road that skirts the edges of Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River.
US-23 from Tawas City to Alpena
It’s easy to overlook Michigan’s “Sunrise Coast” in favor of faster I-75. But along the Lake Huron shore the brilliant autumn foliage gives reason to slow down. Lakeside towns brighten with color and bright hardwoods offer a lovely backdrop to rocky beaches and romantic lighthouses.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Michigan’s only claim to mountains lies here, in the western U.P., where the Porcupine Mountains jut up above the Lake Superior shoreline. Heading west from Ontonagon follow the sparkling Lake Superior shore along M-64, past vibrant-hued hardwoods and over tiny creeks that snake their way to the Big Lake.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Tahquamenon Falls
Lake Superior’s most striking landscapes lie along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hike the North Country Trail if you have time, past Chapel Rock and Spray Falls, along Twelvemile Beach, across Hurricane River and out to the Au Sable Light Station, a route that winds beneath brilliant autumn foliage as it hugs the Lake Superior shore.
US-2 from St. Ignace to Manistique
A trip across the “Mighty Mac” never disappoints, no matter the season. Drive the spectacular white Mackinac Bridge north, then head west along US-2 for a tour of Lake Michigan’s northern shore. With the sparkling lake to the south and a blaze of autumn color to the north, you’ll find ample reason to stop to shoot photos or enjoy a lakeside picnic.