10 Places to See Fall Colors in Michigan That Aren’t the Tunnel of Trees

For-Mar Nature Preserve Arboretum. (Image via Facebook)

By Amber Ogden

October 21, 2022

Make plans now before the season of peak colors is over.

Michigan comes to life in the fall. With the brisk breeze, the satisfying sound of leaves crunching under your feet, and of course, the fantastic fall colors, this is the perfect time to get outside.   

No doubt a drive along the Tunnel of Trees is a great way to experience the season, but there are so many different places across the state to see the leaves change colors. Here are 10 recommendations for places to see autumn do her thing here in Michigan that aren’t M-119. Whether you’re catching these views from a train ride, a classic hike in the woods, or by boat, make sure you hurry. Peak colors, unfortunately, just don’t last as long as we’d like them to—though, you never know, there may be some stragglers as November approaches.

For-Mar Nature Preserve & Arboretum, Burton

Here you’ll be astounded by nearly 400 acres of picturesque views of fields and forests. This beautiful park in Genesee County has been around for over 50 years. Throughout the grounds are various trails with plenty of trees and ponds for miles. The arboretum specifically includes seven miles of trails that run along Kearsley Creek. The creek also splits the preserve in half, creating a stretch of prairie land and gardens that make for an exciting hike. The preserve is family-friendly as many of the trials are short loops. More information here.

The Coopersville & Marne Railway Co.

One of the best ways to experience the trees sporting their new colors is by train. On the Coopersville & Marne Railway, you can relax and gaze from your window at the wondrous 7-mile stretch of foliage on a vintage train. No worries about missing out on anything along the way—this is not a fast-moving train at all. More information here.

Whitehouse Nature Center, Albion

Once you arrive at this scenic preserve, you will be fully enveloped in hickory and floodplain forests. Tucked away on the Albion College campus, Whitehouse Nature Center’s 5 miles of trails are perfect for a meditative walk through the woods—and you can bring along your dog. You have five trails to choose from, including a marsh that runs along the Kalamazoo River. More information here.

Fayette Historic State Park, Garden

Image via Dimitrios Karamitros Shutterstock

Take on the autumn season in Fayette Historic State Park, where the fall foliage stretches hundreds of acres. With a 5-mile hike, you can oversee the limestone cliffs surrounding the harbor. If you need a short break from all that fresh air, take a self-guided tour of the historic industrial townsite from the 19th century, where a bustling community once was. More information here

Kitch-iti-kipi at Palms Book State Park, Manistique

Of course, the Palms Book State Park in the UP is the best spot to catch all the colors changing this season. One of the most captivating bodies of water in Michigan is Kitch-iti-kipi, also known as the Big Spring. A raft ride through Michigan’s largest freshwater spring is a peaceful way to settle into the seasonal transformation. Watch the sun illuminate all the land around you as you float upstream. Keep your eyes peeled for tree trunks and lime-encrusted branches on your self-guided tour. More information here.

The Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie

Image via I Love Sault Ste Marie Michigan Facebook

Viewing fall foliage by boat is not as traditional as a drive through the tunnel of trees, but it’s a one of a kind experience at the Soo Locks. This is a spectacular place to see fall colors in Michigan. While visiting the area, head over to Tahquamenon Falls—you probably know it as Rootbeer Falls— to see the waterfall before winter settles in. But no worries, this park is perfect to visit all year round. More information here.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon

Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park has peak fall foliage. As the cool temperatures settle in, enjoy a hike or a weekend stay camping. Imagine the colors on about 60,000 acres and 90 miles of hiking trails in the mountain and along the Lake Superior shoreline. More information here.

North Bar Lake Overlook, Empire

North Bar Lake overlook is a beautiful place to walk along the shore with picture-perfect bluffs. The bluffs overlook the Pierce Stocking Drive Lake Michigan Overlook Platform. The name of the lake describes how the lake formed: it is a pond behind a sand bar. The sand bar sometimes builds up and separates North Bar Lake from Lake Michigan, creating the perfect backdrop for a fall day. More information here.

Nichols Arboretum, Ann Arbor

Located in the heart of Ann Arbor, the Arboretum, also known as The Arb, is home to numerous trails on the University of Michigan campus. In this beautiful, diverse terrain, there are over 3 miles of trails throughout the park and 123 acres filled with countless exotic tree plants and a naturalistic landscape. More information here.

Lake Cadillac Foot & Bike Path, Cadillac

Image via Visit Cadillac Instagram

One of the best ways to spend a fall day is out on your bike—bundled up, of course. Some of the biking trails that hug the shoreline of Lake Cadillac overlook the Clam River Greenway, which offers some prime autumn colors, while other bike paths connect to the downtown area of Cadillac. There are over seven miles and three different trails to venture that are also connected to the White Pine Trail, on the eastern shoreline of the lake. More information here.


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