Fall color season is near and we are here to help you plan to experience some of the best fall foliage in the USA! Lets specifically talk about fall color in the Upper Peninsula and let this blog (and video) serve as a 2021 guide as to when and where the fall colors will be popping up.
GO HERE, DO THIS
Let's start with what goes into initial planning. Every year the colors change at slightly different times based on weather. Paying attention to the weather, researching online and talking to others in an area are helpful ways to determine when the best colors will be popping. If planning needs to be done in advance, going off of previous years will be helpful in determining what would be a good time to go.
Most people are aware that colors start changing up North first and work their way South, and that is true, but they also change inland out towards water. In this case, we mean towards the Great Lakes. You can be at the edge of Lake Superior or Lake Michigan and be seeing a lot of green leaves but just a few miles inland, the colors can be at peak!
There are so many ways to take in the call colors. One, a high vantage point will give you a sweeping views of the landscapes. Going the top of Copper Peak near Ironwood is perhaps the best way to stand hundreds of feet above the trees and it offers one of the most unique experiences in Michigan. It is a 360 degree view that’s pretty mind blowing if you can get over the height. You could also do something like going to the top of Brockway Mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Standing on top of that huge rock also gives you insane landscape shots.
Going up high isn't the only way to appreciate fall colors. Scenic tree covered drives, hiking, biking, and something we really enjoy in fall, paddling. It can be a great way to get some space to yourself and enjoy the colors from a different perspective. Traveling to spots to stand above the trees can get a bit crowded during peak season and that is why we usually bring our paddleboards.
Last year we stumbled upon the CR510 bridge. We know this is a popular spot outside of Marquette but it was our first time and because we had our boards we were able to experience it in a way that made it memorable to us. The leaves stay pretty solid in this area because its in a valley and is a bit protected from the wind so were able to see some amazing colors from the water!
Something else that we have found to enjoy about fall is not just the changing leaves, but also the changes in how the Great Lakes look, especially Lake Superior. It will go from blue and happy to dark and moody and is worth being part of your fall experience.
As we talk about moving East in the Upper Peninsula, we are big fans of Mission Hill and the overlook at Spectacle Lake and Lake Superior. This is located about 20 miles from Sault Ste. Marie. This is an amazing area because its more that just an overlook. The drive up the lookout and the hiking trails in the area are amazing in their own right, so make sure to plan enough time to take it all in.
Next up lets discuss two stand out fall color spots along the Lake Michigan Shore, starting with Fayette Historical State Park outside of Escanaba. Does it have fall colors? Absolutely. But fall colors compliment the history remains of a iron smelting town from years ago. Personally this is a spot where you should plan an entire day. Remember what was said earlier, as you go towards the lake, the colors take longer to change and since this is located out on a peninsula the colors will be different than what you will be seeing on US 2 driving through the U.P. so plan accordingly.
Speaking of US 2, lets talk about the Cut River Bridge. If you have ever driven West out of St. Ignace you may have driven over it and not known about what it has to offer. There is a parking lot and roadside park just before the bridge heading West. Stop there and hike that trail and make your way down to Lake Michigan and under the bridge!
Does this list cover every beautiful fall color spot in the Upper Peninsula? No, not even close, but it does offer a few great spots to check out. Don’t forget to explore. Its not a race to hit all the major landmarks. This should also be a time to relax.
Hopefully this helps you on your fall adventures! Check out the full video below!