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
* See our regional tourism and weather report links midway down the page.
In the second week of September we begin to see hints of fall color change around Lake Superior. Leaves start to turn lime green, some start to show hints of yellow and orange. Even though far from peak fall color, early September travel offers cooler evenings, crisp early fall days, and reduced competition for various lodging, dining and attractions of interest to the scenic traveler.
Some of the earliest Fall Color in mid-September around Lake Superior can be found away from the lake south of Ashland, WI and in the western Upper Peninsula east of Ironwood Michigan. One color trip we've enjoyed in the past and would be a great one this year is a scenic waterfalls color tour in Northern Wisconsin and the western Upper Peninsula. This route takes in Copper Falls State Park, Potato River Falls, the falls along the Black River Harbor Scenic Byway, and the water falls along the Presque Isle River in the western park of Porcupine Mountains State Park. Beginning September 23, 2016 you should find some nice splashes of color along these routes plus attractive waterfalls due to the recent rains.
The earliest fall color in the Porkies can be found 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. Later in the season the best color is nearer the lake and in lower elevations along some of the hiking trails.
In the Keweenaw Peninsula, peak color generally arrives late September, early October.
In the central UP a scenic fall drive I'd recommend is the H58 county road between Munising and Grand Marais, Michigan. Also you'll find good fall color along the road to Miners Castle in Pictured Rocks National Park. If you take a Pictured Rocks Boat Tour, in addition to the amazing painted rocks you'll get to see some nice leaf color as a backdrop. East of Pictured Rocks, between Newberry and Paradise is Tahquamenon Falls, beautiful any time of the year but especially with fall color as a backdrop.
In Minnesota Peak Color arrives in late September away from the lake and into the first week in October near the lake. 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. Some years along the North Shore you get a second season of fall color in October as the birches, aspen, and tamarack turn (always later than Maples, Oaks, and Hickories).
In Wisconsin, from Superior near Amnicon Falls to Ashland peak color usually arrives the last week in September and first two weeks in October. Sometimes peak color arrives at the same time as the annual Bayfield Apple Festival (the first weekend in October); other years it is a little later.
COLOR UPDATES. During the week of Sept 26 - 30, we'll be surveying various reporters around the lake so look for our next 2016 Fall Color Report Update before the weekend.
Planning your Fall Color Tour Vacation. For indicators of fall color change possibilities, check our Fall Color Change Report Updates Archives. For example, in 2014, several areas were showing good color by September 23rd; but in 2015 color change was more modest at this time of year. Indications are 2016 color is changing slower than recent years.
But watch out for waiting until Peak Color because some years the leaves start falling before they completely turn. A bonus this year is the waterfalls should be terrific so that will offset not seeing peak color.
Fall Color Report Update - September 26, 2016
Best Circle Tour Fall Color this coming weekend, September 30 - October 2nd, could be in parts of the Porcupine Mountains (according to Bob Wild, Park Interpreter). LIkewise look for some good fall color along Hwy 26 between Ontonagon and Houghton, but the Keweenaw will be a little behind what you'll see south of Houghton.
Color is beginning to change (20 - 50%) in the Western UP (around the Porcupine Mountains and Black River Harbor) and the Keweenaw Peninsula (Houghton to Copper Harbor). Peak Leaf Color will probably occur in October 3rd to October 10th window. Nearer the 10th for the Keweenaw, nearer the 3rd for the Porkies. Good color is now showing along Hwy 26 near Twin Lakes.
The central UP around Pictured Rocks National Park and Tahquamenon Falls should be showing good color by the second week in October.
We'll be collecting further reports next week and will post updates here.
Hurley is reporting about 70% peak and Ashland & Bayfield around 20%. The Bayfield Apple Festival is Oct 7 - 9th so there should be some good color by then. Copper Falls State Park is estimated at 30%. Between Ashland and Superior is about 10%.
We'll be collecting further reports next week and will post updates here.
Grand Portage Park on the Minnesota/Ontario Border reports only modest color change, 25 - 50% peak color, with best color on the high ridges. The color change from Cascade River State Park (south of Grand Marais) and Judge Magney State Park (north of Grand Marais) is also 25 - 50%, again most of the color in the high country. But cooler weather is expected to hasten the color change. This coming weekend and the next week you'll find the best and earliest fall color is often away from the lake. Stop in the visitor center at Tettegouche State Park for color tour maps. Next weekend and the following week should show good color riding tthe Lutsen Mountain Gondola to the top of Moose Mountain.
North Shore Waterfalls are looking great due to the amount of recent rain
Duluth to Gooseberry Falls are at least two weeks away from peak color.
We'll be collecting further reports during next week and will post updates here.
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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A FALL COLOR BONUS - GREAT WATERFALLS. 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).
As reported above North Shore Waterfalls are looking great too!
The Propp Family enjoying Tahquamenon Falls State Park
Have a color report to pass along or a question - write me
Ross Reinhold - email@example.com
Regional Tourism & Peak Fall Color Report Links:
Michigan UP Travel
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.