The Upper Peninsula offers one of the nation’s best yearly displays of fall colors. Collectively, the area’s assortment of flaming maples, oaks, and various other hardwoods reveal a truly stunning palette of reds, ambers, and yellows—balanced with a fair amount of aquamarine from the high number of evergreens. It’s essential to time your trip with precision. While fall colors in the Upper Peninsula typically peak between late September and early October, a given year’s weather conditions can either accelerate or delay their appearance. During the weeks prior to your trip, monitor the fall color reports via the media and be prepared to change your plans as necessary.
Once you settle on your dates, the following four-day itinerary will lead you to some of the UP’s very best spots for fall color.
Day 1: Tahquamenon Falls
Begin your trip at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, one of the nation’s most beautiful waterfalls west of Niagara. Take your time exploring the park while enjoying the rustic trails that links the upper and lower falls, which appear even more beautiful when set against the background of autumnal color. An excellent place to stay is the Magnuson Grand Hotel in Paradise.
Day 2: Pictured Rocks
After checking out Tahquamenon Falls, head west toward Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore via Highway 28 and Highway 77. Here you’ll find Miners Falls and Mosquito Falls, each of which is nestled in a swath of fall color. Each requires a short hike from the parking area—but it’s be worth it. On your way toward Munising to spend the night, be sure to check out Wagner Falls, another gem. Stay at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites in Munising.
Day 3: Hiawatha National Forest
After departing Munising, take Highway 28 to Harvey, where you can pick up U.S. 41. Take U.S. 41 south through Rapid River, Gladstone, and Escanaba. The route will take you through the Hiawatha National Forest, where you’ll experience miles of uninterrupted nature. Stay the evening at the Terrace Bay Resort in Gladstone.
Day 4: Garden Peninsula and U.S. 2
Take U.S. 41 north to U.S. 2. Head east toward St. Ignace (and possibly take a detour down the Garden Peninsula). Along the way you’ll pass through Manistique while enjoying more color on your left and the crystal blue water of Lake Michigan on your right.
Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Michigan.