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Minnesota Weekly Fall Color Update -Oct. 8, 2015

The current cool temperatures have accelerated fall color change. Warm, golden tones have spread across the state, with vibrant ruby red, tangerine orange, apricot, peach and burgundy leaves now visible throughout Minnesota. Some of the nicest fall color can be found at Tettegouche, Temperance River, Jay Cooke, Itasca, Maplewood, Savanna Portage, Lake Maria, and Forestville/Mystery Cave state parks.

Please note that fall color can change rapidly due to wind, rain and frost. This update will be sent each Thursday afternoon during the fall color season, with additional updates as conditions warrant. This update is brought to you by Explore Minnesota, with much of the information provided courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

For a customized travel planner for your next Minnesota getaway, please call one of our travel counselors at 888-VISITMN (888-847-4866), or request your planner at Contact a Travel Counselor. Before you go, be sure to check out ten spectacular fall color routes in Minnesota! Subscribe here to receive any or all of our updates by email.


[Southern] [TwinCities] [Central] [Northwest] [Northeast]


Northeast Minnesota

Most parks in northeastern Minnesota are at or nearing peak fall color, with spectacular fall color visible at Bear Head Lake, Tettegouche, and Jay Cooke state parks.

Scenic State Park--Bigfork, north of Grand Rapids
Park staff report past peak conditions for the trees and shrubs. Vibrant ruby-red, yellow and orange trees can still be seen scattered throughout the park. For the most scenic views, hike the Chase Point Trail.

Bear Head Lake State Park--Ely
The forest leaves are approaching peak fall color, and the park is filled with bright amber, orange, and crimson trees. The Norberg Trail offers beautiful overlooks of several lakes, and the drive into the park is spectacular.

Tettegouche State Park--Silver Bay
The maples have turned shades of vibrant red and orange, and are now at their peak. The aspen and birch are taking on nice shades of yellow and gold, and a wide array of color fills the fruiting shrubs. Take the hike into Tettegouche Camp from the Lax Lake Road parking area and enjoy a stroll through tunnels of peaking maples interspersed with golden trees. The Baptism River waterfalls are impressive. And nearby, at Temperance River State Park at Tofte, the park is glowing with amber and orange birch, aspen and other tree species. The maples are at their peak and beginning to drop their vibrant red and orange leaves. The six-mile, round-trip hike to Carlton Peak will reward you with broad vistas and panoramic views of the maple forests. Adding to the beauty are the rushing waters of the Temperance River.

Gooseberry Falls State Park--Two Harbors
Autumn's yellow, gold, and orange leaves have arrived, with patches of reds and purples scattered about. The Fifth Falls Trail is ideal for views of the emerging fall color and the rushing waterfalls of the Gooseberry River.

Jay Cooke State Park--Carlton
Peak fall color has arrived following a rapid transformation. Shades of yellow fill the aspen and birch trees, and the maples range from green to a vibrant crimson red and orange. Take a hike along the river to view beautiful fall color, as well as the amazing rapids. Stop by the Swinging Bridge this weekend for a quick presentation on the flora and fauna of Jay Cooke.

Banning State Park--Sandstone
Fall color is nearing its peak, with a wide array of color in the ash, aspen and maples. The forest is filled with vivid yellows and golds, along with patches of tangerine and bright red leaves. The Quarry Loop Trail is very scenic, with views of the "Hells Gate Rapids." The river boat launch area is also spectacular.

Father Hennepin State Park--Isle, southeast edge of Lake Mille Lacs
Fall colors are popping! The sugar and red maples should be at peak shades of orange and red this week. The birch are bright yellow, and oaks are turning burgundy and orange. Head to the beach/picnic area for panoramic views of Lake Mille Lacs. Keep an eye out the resident albino deer with her twin fawns. Anglers are enjoying good fishing action off the two fishing piers.

Northwest Minnesota

The trees and shrubs in most areas of northwestern Minnesota are either at, or approaching, peak fall color, with spectacular fall color at Itasca State Park.

Zippel Bay State Park--Williams, northwest of Baudette
The birch trees are at peak shades of yellow, and offer the best color display within the park. Aquatic grasses, ferns, asters and goldenrod are also contributing to the colorful display. Hike the trail from the large beach to the small beach for the best views. Watch for the many migratory birds stopping to rest at the park.

Lake Bronson State Park--Lake Bronson, far northwest corner of Minnesota
While beautiful fall color lingers in the protected areas, most of the leaves have fallen due to high winds.

Big Bog Recreation Area--Waskish
The tamarack trees along the boardwalk are turning bright orange, and other trees are displaying nice fall color around the lake. Be sure to climb the firetower for a spectacular view of the Upper Red Lake shoreline and the Big Bog. Canoeing the lazy Tamarac River is a wonderful way to truly take in the abundant fall colors, migratory birds and other wildlife. Canoes can be rented at the visitor center.

Lake Bemidji State Park--Bemidji
Shades of red, orange and yellow are spreading through the park. The sugar maples are at peak fall color, with a lovely display along the park entrance road and the Rocky Point Trail. Also consider a walk to the bog since it will take you through the most varied forest types in the park.

Itasca State Park--north of Park Rapids
The park is overflowing with fall color and the autumn colors are gorgeous! The maples are burnt orange and ruby red, the birch are yellow, and the big tooth aspen are bright orange. The deep reds of the oaks are stunning, and numerous other species are adding amber, gold, peachy-pink, purple, and pinkish-yellow to the mix! Enjoy vibrant color along the East Entrance and South Entrance roads. The Main Park Drive offers lovely views across the lake. A climb up the 100-foot tall firetower is a must for those wanting a stunning panoramic view of the colors.

Detroit Lakes/Becker County
Fall colors in Becker County range from 75 percent to peak. The maple leaves are red and orange, while the aspen and birch are glowing shades of yellow. Stands of sumac along the road ditches are deep red, offset by the rusty hues of big bluestem grasses. Peak fall colors are expected to arrive sometime between now and Oct. 12, depending on weather conditions. For the best views, hike the trails at Sucker Creek Preserve east of Detroit Lakes on Hwy 10, Dunton Locks County Park south of Detroit Lakes on Hwy 59, and the county roads in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Detailed Fall Color Tour maps are available for the Detroit Lakes/Becker County vicinity.

Central Minnesota

Most of central Minnesota will reach peak fall color in the next week. Parks currently offering spectacular displays include Maplewood and Savanna Portage state parks, as well as the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.

Maplewood State Park--Pelican Rapids
Park staff report an amazing fall color display, with 50-75 percent of trees now at peak fall color. The sugar maple trees are full of glorious vibrant orange, red and yellow leaves which should last through the Oct. 10 & 11 weekend. The prairie grasses are wonderful shades of gold, maroon, amber and brown. The birch and aspen are glowing gold, the sumac remain crimson and scarlet, and the oaks are taking on their maroon and gold tones. Visitors will enjoy the many miles of hiking trails, as well as the 4.5-mile Scenic Park Drive which winds through prairies, hardwood forests, and past many lakes and ponds. Hallaway overlook provides a dramatic vista of the Lake Lida area and Mapleleaf Hills.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park--Little Falls
Park staff estimate a 60 percent change in the park foliage. While the campground maples are bright yellow and orange, the trees in other areas are just starting to change color. The hike along Pike Creek is best for fall color and scenic views. Peak fall color should arrive next week.

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area--Crosby, northeast of Brainerd
Warm golds and bright yellows now fill Cuyuna Country! Fall color enthusiasts will not want to miss Miners Mountain Overlook for views 200 feet above the surrounding area. The overlook can be accessed by vehicle or bike. There are numerous scenic overlooks along both the paved Cuyuna Lakes State Trail and the mountain bike trail system. Fall color viewing by boat, canoe or kayak is a perfect way to explore the crystal clear mine lakes. Be sure to inquire about the seven yurts with woodstoves that are available to rent year-round!

Savanna Portage State Park--north of McGregor
The park is at its peak, with lovely red, orange and yellow maples scattered throughout the park. The aspen ridge tops are turning gold, and the smaller red oaks are a deep crimson. The larger oaks are taking on shades of red, rust and gold. The ash trees are entirely yellow, and many have lost their leaves. For the best views, travel the park roads, Beaver Pond Trail, and around Loon and Wolf lakes.

Twin Cities Metropolitan Vicinity

Many areas in the Twin Cities are mid-way to peak fall color. Visitors will find exceptional fall color at Lake Maria and Interstate state parks, as well as many of the big woods parks within the Three Rivers Park District.

Lake Maria State Park--Monticello, northwest of Buffalo
Park staff report that the ash, aspen, cottonwood and birch trees are displaying their customary yellow and gold leaves. A few scattered maples are adding beautiful red and orange to the mix. The sumac is bright red and rich maroon. The prairie grasses range from gold to rusty red, and the goldenrod and asters dot the prairies with yellow and purple blooms. The Bjorkland Lake Trail and Anderson Hill Lookout offer the best early fall colors. Hawks and songbirds are migrating through the park, and trumpeter swans and waterfowl can be seen at the lakes and wetlands. Canoe, boat and kayak rentals are available on weekends until mid-October!

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum--Chaska/West Metro
The Arboretum's sugar maples are turning bright red, orange and yellow, and some are already at their peak. The birch are glowing with yellow leaves. The sumac is a deep red, and the dogwood is maroon. Peak fall color is expected roughly Oct. 21.

Three Rivers Park District--Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott & Wright counties
To find beautiful fall color this week and weekend, head to the Big Woods parks such as Lake Rebecca, Baker, and Elm Creek park reserves. Many of the ash and elm trees have already lost most of their golden leaves, but this has opened up the landscape for better views of the bright maples and basswoods. You will also see lots of colorful hackberry, ironwood, and dogwood in the understory. The oak-dominated parks such as Hyland and Murphy-Hanrehan park reserves, as well as Eagle Lake, Bryant Lake, and Silverwood parks should now change quickly if the sunny, cool temperatures continue.

Interstate State Park--Taylors Falls
Bright yellow and orange trees are glowing against the conifers, with occasional vibrant red trees scattered across the St. Croix River Valley. Experience the beauty from scenic views along the River Trail, or tackle the many stairs along the Sandstone Bluffs Trail for a broader view of the valley. The glacial potholes parking area fills quickly on weekends so if you are planning to hike, please consider using the campground entrance on the south side of the park, then hiking the 1.25- or 1.5-mile trails to the glacial potholes area. Autumn programs are scheduled for the upcoming weekends, including MEA. Please call the park for more information at 651/465-5711.

Wild River State Park--Almelund, east of North Branch
Beautiful fall color is taking over the park! The maples are stunning shades of yellow and orange this year, with lots of yellow in the aspen and birch trees. Prairie lovers will want to hike the Amador Prairie loops. The advanced loops behind the office provide an adventurous hike past many maples. Numerous naturalist programs are offered during the month of October. To learn more, contact the park at 651/583-2125.

Southern Minnesota

A wide range of color has developed in southern Minnesota. Parks with vibrant fall color include Forestville/Mystery Cave and Camden state parks.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park--Nerstrand, south of Northfield
About 25-50 percent of the trees are displaying fall color. For the most varied display, travel the Hope Trail loop. Also hike the hilly trails to the north for views of Hidden Falls surrounded by fall color.

Frontenac State Park--southeast of Red Wing
The bluff top picnic area offers expansive views of Lake Pepin and the fall foliage. The sumac has turned bright red, the maples are turning yellow, pink and red, and the aspen are almost entirely yellow. The prairie grasses are holding onto their rich gold and maroon tones. Hike the inner bluffs on the Hiking Club Trail, then venture to the two extensions of the park along Hill Avenue for outstanding bluff top views. Visitors will also want to consider the many festivities offered in Wabasha through Oct. 25 during SeptOberfest.

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park--Preston
The maple trees are nearing peak shades of red and orange. The old townsite prairie is filled with gold, red and rust native grasses, along with a multitude of blooming wildflowers. Visitors will want to travel the trails leading past the restored prairies and old townsite, as well as the forest edges and stream edges. Be sure to also check out the tours of Historic Forestville offered each Saturday through the end of October, as well as the Mystery Cave tours offered each Saturday and Sunday through the end of the month.

Whitewater State Park -Altura, north of St. Charles
Many of the ash have already dropped their leaves. The maples and oaks are beginning to display nice shades of red, orange, and gold. Hike from Chimney Rock to Inspiration Point for some great overlook views.

Sakatah Lake State Park--Waterville, west of Faribault
Fall color is at a mid-way point, consisting of mostly yellow and orange. The prairie areas offer views of the prairie grasses at full color, including big bluestem, Indian grass, and side-oats-grama. Biking the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a great way to view the fall colors--it runs 39-miles from Mankato to Faribault.

Flandrau State Park--New Ulm
Travel the Bluebird Trail to view sumac at peak shades of red, as well as bright wildflowers, and lovely bronze big bluestem grasses. The maples have started to turn brilliant colors, especially at the rustic campground and day use area. Don't miss the very popular Oktoberfest celebration running through Oct. 10 in New Ulm.

Lac Qui Parle State Park -Watson, northwest of Montevideo
The prairie grasses are fully rust and gold. The ash trees are turning nice shades of yellow with leaves now falling. The best viewing is at the overlook and down the road to the beach.

Camden State Park--south of Marshall
Park trees and shrubs will soon be at peak fall color. The native grasses are very colorful. The green ash and cottonwoods continue to turn shades of gold and tangerine, and the maples are taking on shades of bright red and orange. Camden is probably the most westerly example of a naturally-occurring sugar maple/basswood forest in the state, and possibly the country. The Redwood River Valley within the park is a great place to catch spectacular maple color in the fall. For the best views of the rust and gold grasses, head to the prairies on the west side of the park.

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