When you think of fall color, blue is likely the last shade that comes to mind. But Michigan lakes never show better than on crisp, sunny, fall days. Traverse City photographer, Heather Higham, says fall colors make blue seem bluer and blues make the fall colors richer. So, if you’re looking for good fall color this season, consider finding it near water. Here are some great places to start:
Manistee River Trail: It’s tough to beat the sweeping views of the Manistee National Forest from spots like Buckley’s High Rollaways, where the Manistee River snakes through colorful woods, adding true art to the scene. But Higham recommends the intimacy of standing amid the colors next to a river along the 8.8-mile Manistee River Trail. The well-marked national forest hiking trail is especially popular and has several vista views. bit.ly/ManisteeTrail
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Pick up a map at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore visitor centers and enjoy a fall scavenger hunt for a glance at a dozen large waterfalls within. Locals can steer you to another 20 or so thanks to the Munising Formation, cliffs of limey sandstone that seem to glow in late afternoon light. Sable Falls, on the easternmost edge, takes you on a woodland walk down along the falls as they drop 75 feet to the agate-dotted beach at the base; or take the boat cruise out of Munising to Lower Chapel, Bridalveil and Spray waterfalls. bit.ly/PicturedRocksFalls
Warren Dunes State Park: Warren Dunes State Park’s Tower Hill marks Berrien County’s highest point — and arguably one of the state’s best fall views. There’s a 240-foot climb up the sand hill once popular for both hang gliding and, now, better known for the trendy sport of sandboarding or timeless art of simply running or sliding down. But at the peak, you catch views of shoreline beaches, grand dunes and the parts of the park covered in oak and hickory that turn brilliant colors in October. bit.ly/WarrenDunesPark
Huron River National Water Trail: Glide down the Huron River in autumn, and you’ll find spots both wide and intimate, areas populated with people or only the occasional turtle or Great Blue Heron. The stunning color is found on the banks. And those who paddle from Hudson Mills to Delhi Metropark (a designated country scenic river stretch with no dams or portages), can glide through water up to an autumn must-visit locale with the best-ever boat snacks: the Dexter Cider Mill. For a full map of the 104-mile water trail, go to huronriverwatertrail.org
Superior View: You feel like you can fly — with or without skis — when you catch the fall scene from the top of the Copper Peak Ski Hill in Ironwood. Deer graze just off the parking lot, and rivers and small lakes add the complementary blue to the see-for-miles view of forest edged by a seemingly endless stretch of Lake Superior. Now, a new adventure ride ($20 for adults) takes visitors on an 18-story elevator ride to the observation deck, where you can walk another eight stories to the starting gate. copperpeak.net
An award-winning travel writer who has visited nearly every corner of Michigan, Kim Schneider brings her travel savvy to Michigan BLUE’s Top 5 beginning with this issue.