View from Summit Peak, Porcupine Mountains
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park
Western Upper Peninsula Fall Color Scenic Drives along Lake Superior
Maps Scenic Drives Fall Foliage Color Tours
Wisconsin Fall Color Scenic Drives along Lake Superior
North Shore Fall Color Scenic Drives; Fall Color Duluth, Minnesota
Color is now past peak in most areas around Lake Superior. Perhaps the best location to see what color remains is Porcupine Mountains State Park. Cooler weather has now arrived.
* See our regional tourism and weather report links midway down the page.
The weather forecast for the weekend across the Lake Superior Region is for sunshine or partly sunny across most of the region. So some nice crisp fall days with good, a great weekend for a drive, a picnic, hiking, camping, beach combing, etc.
This weekend will be peak or close to peak color from Superior to Ashland, Wisconsin. If you around Ashland or Bayfield this weekend, you can catch your best color taking a drive south of Ashland on Hwy 13 to Copper Falls State Park, then go North and East on Hwy 169 to Potato River Falls County Park. Then return to Ashland on US Highway 2. Also take a drive through the Bayfield Orchards for some color and fall harvest and Bayfield Applefest specials. Another great spot to see the colors is the top of the observation tower at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and fall migratory birds. East towards Hurley on Hwy 2, the color change is approaching 100%.
Michigan Upper Peninsula
The earliest fall color can be found in Porcupine Mountains State Park in the woods and trails that are away from the lake. Don't miss the view from the top of Summit Peak and from the Lake of the Clouds Overlook. As of 10/8 Bob Wild Porkies Interpreter reports color change at 50 - 90%, with Summit Peak near Peak but Lake of the Clouds closer to 50%. If the leaves hold, color should be quite good this coming weekend (Oct 10-11). Chairlift rides have been extended to this weekend.
I expect the recent cool nights to have accelerated the color change at Black River Harbor and Copper Peak. Hurley-Ironwood is reporting 85% plus color change.
The Keweenaw is running 50 - 65% so expect good color this weekend, especially on Brockway Mountain Drive and US 41 between Delaware & Copper Harbor. Copper Harbor itself and Houghton are running a little behind in color change. But by the time this weekend (October 10-11) rolls in color in the Keweenaw overall should be about the best you are going to get.
In the central UP, most areas are reporting 50% or greater color change. Best color near the lake should be through Pictured Rocks National Park on H58 between Munising and Grand Marais. Theresa Neal at Tahquamenon Falls State Park reports color change at 60% but predicts strong color by this weekend.
In the Eastern UP, color change is running from 25 - 60%, with Peak Color at least a week away.
Peak Color has arrived along the North Shore. Unfortunately even past peak in some areas as high winds blew leaves off some of the maple trees. But the second color season of birch and aspen changes should help compensate.
In Duluth, try a drive on Scenic Skyline Drive, including Hawks Ridge, to catch the best color and overlooks of the city and the lake. There's also a network of hiking trails at Hawks Ridge worth taking. We've found the best fall color along Scenic Highway 61 on Minnesota's North Shore is generally from Silver Bay to Lutsen, with hikes or a gondola ride to tops of mountain peaks giving the best color or a drive inland away from the lake. Tettegouche State Park and Temperance River State Parks are reporting 75% to 100% full color.
Closer to Grand Marais, Cascade State Park is reporting 75% ++ color with best views from a hike to the top of Lookout Mountain or the shorter trail around Cascade Falls. They expect Peak this weekend. Best views around Grand Marais would traveling up the Gunflint Trail a few miles to hike to the top of Pincushion Mountain. While taking the hiking trail to the top is best, there is also a good overlook from the hiking trail parking lot.
Your best color this weekend will be found on a drive north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario towards Lake Superior Provincial Park. And the very best would be taking the Agawa Canyon Scenic Train Ride. If you don't already have reservations it is probably too late for this weekend, but they will be running daily trips through October 12th. Tara at the Soo Visitor Bureau says they are at 90% peak color and the leaves are holding on the trees.
Fall Color around Thunder Bay usually begins in the first week in October and can last until Mid-October. You generally see more yellows and golds in this area because of the types of trees that dominate a Boreal Forest. A few years ago we took a fall color trip to Thunder Bay and enjoyed some good hiking in city park trails, some excellent golfing, and good food.
Mild weather this weekend will be extending the color in Northern Wiscosnin and the Upper Peninsula. So this weekend (October 10 - 11) should be quite nice for a fall color drive. But I wouldn't wait much longer as some trees are losing their leaves even before they completely change.
Below our color report update are some links to regional tourism websites as well as weather reports from selected spots around Lake Superior.
Planning your Fall Color Tour Vacation. In addition to watching this space, also see our links to fall color reports from last year and earlier years to give you a better idea of when the color changes and when peak color arrives in the area of your interest.
Here's how it was last year on 10/1?
Fall Color Report Update - October 1, 2014 (For historical comparisons)
Sandy Richardson at Porcupine Mountains State Park reports full color in many parts of the park. This past weekend and perhaps next weekend the park is also offering chairlift rides up to the top of the ski hill. I expect good color to persist til at least the coming weekend
The drive between Grand Marais and Munising on H58 through Pictured Rocks National Park should be showing good color this this coming week and into October. Theresa at Tahquamenon Falls State Park reports very good color now and expects full color breaking out by this coming weekend. If leaves hold may see color into second week.
Close to the Wisconsin border in the western UP and near Ironwood and Black River Scenic Byway color is now at peak and could hold good color for a week or more.
We are still waiting for a report from Houghton and the Keweenaw but based on past records they should be showing some good color this week and this weekend.
Over closer to Sault Sainte Marie in the far Eastern Upper Peninsula color is starting on the US side and showing nicely in Ontario.
Hurley is between 80 and 100% and Ashland is between 50 and 70%. Copper Falls State Park is excellent right now, near peak, but I expect good color for at least another week. US Highway 2 between Ashland and Superior is showing good color in places and is at about 70%, perhaps a little more in the Brule River State Forest. So color this coming week and weekend should be good in the northern counties of Iron and Ashland. Since good color is showing all across Northern Wisconsin, if you are driving up from central or southern Wisconsin you'll have some nice color on the drive up as well. See our Lake Superior Wisconsin Fall Color Map and our Wisconsin Fall Color Tours page for recommended scenic fall color tour drives.
The drives around Bayfield and Highway 13 going west towards Superior, Wisconsin won't see peak color for at least a week or two but if you are going to Apple Fest next weekend a drive through the Bayfield Orchards area should be showing some splashes of bright color.
Grand Portage Park on the Minnesota/Ontario Border is near 100% peak and the waterfalls should be an impressive addition to your visit. Kjersti at Cook County Visitors Bureau reports things looking brilliant right now and expects peak in the coming week, but also she expects the color seaon to extend for an additional week or two in October. From Split Rock State Park to Cascade River State Park color change is between 75 and 100%. The best and earliest fall color is often away from the lake. Stop in the visitor centers at Tettegouche and Temperance River State Parks for color tour maps. This coming week and weekend should be excellent for riding tthe Lutsen Mountain Gondola to the top of Moose Mountain.
Duluth to Two Harbors remains a week or two from excellent color. The next two weekends should be good color scenery. Areas along the North Shore with lots of Aspen and Birch generally don't show good color change until into October.
Because most of the hardwoods in the boreal forests of Ontario are Aspen and some birch you don't see much color change around Thunder Bay and north until October. On the eastern end between Sault Sainte Marie and Wawa, where the forest has more variety, expect some good color around the end of September and first week or two of October.
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Rainfall in September along the south shore of Lake Superior has been ample which I think means that the leaves will hang on the trees a while. It also means the areas with attractive waterfalls - like Copper Falls State Park, Black River Scenic Byway. Presque Isle River (Porcupine Mountains), and Tahquamenon Falls - will be especially attractive with roaring waterfalls and decent fall color and foliage.(See links to these areas near the top of this page).
For other useful historical comparisons, see More Fall Color Reports covering our reports from 2011 to 2014
Have a color report to pass along or a question - write me
Ross Reinhold - firstname.lastname@example.org
Regional Tourism & Peak Fall Color Report Links:
Michigan UP: Copper Harbor
Keweenaw Visitors Bureau
Western UP Visitors Bureau
Bayfield, WI Fall Colors
Superior-Dougles County Fall Color Updates
Minnesota: DNR NorthShore Parks
Ontario North Shore: NorthofSuperior.org
Ontario North East Shore: Saulttourism.com
Weather Channel Links:
Ironwood, Michigan UP
Houghton, Keweenaw Peninsula Michigan UP
Marquette, Michgan UP
Sault Saint Marie, Michigan UP
Ashland-Bayfield Peninsula, Wisconsin
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Wawa, Ontario Canada
Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Why Do Leaves Change Color?
"A growing season with ample moisture that is followed by a rather dry, cool, sunny autumn that is marked by warm days and cool but frostless nights provides the best weather conditions for development of the brightest fall colors," - - - Learn more from this article from the PBS News Hour's website.
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2015
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Lake Superior Circle Tour Route
Outstanding Fall Color Porcupine Mountains Lake of the Clouds scenic overlook.
Fall Color & Waterfalls along Black River Harbor Scenic Parkway
Tahquamenon Falls State Park offers some of the best fall color in the eastern Upper Peninsula.
See the lighthouses on an Apostle Islands Cruise.