Todd and Brad Reed’s Favorite Spots in Michigan for Fall Color

Todd and Brad Reed are a father-son outdoor photography team based in Ludington, Michigan. Today, they tell us why fall is their favorite time of year to take photographs of Michigan’s beautiful scenery and fill us in on the best places to go around the state to see the colors change.

Be sure to check out the infographic below with Todd and Brad’s top 10 scenic spots for fall foliage across the state, and let us know if you plan a fall color tour in Michigan this season.

Autumn is our favorite time of year to photograph our beloved home state of Michigan. The quality of light during October, fall color, wind, waves and dramatic cloud formations combine to make it a most spectacular time to be on Michigan highways, byways, hiking trails, waterways and shores.

When it comes to photographing fall color, Brad and I know our own backyard of Ludington best. We love driving the country roads east of Ludington in autumn, especially Conrad Road, which boasts what I find to be one of the most picturesque tunnels of trees in Michigan. It is a short but splendid tunnel with farms on each side of the roadway. Further east on Conrad Road are more farms and impressive barns, Amber Elk Ranch and another short tunnel of trees.

Another of our favorite Ludington places to experience fall color is the Lost Lake Trail at Ludington State Park. Toward the end of October, the shores of Lost Lake are usually resplendent with fall color and reflections of fall color. Shooting at the water’s edge near sunrise can be a photographer’s dream.

A float trip down any stretch of the Pere Marquette River between Baldwin and Custer can be one of life’s most relaxing experiences and a great way to see fall color and wildlife. We love floating by stable drift boat with an expert river guide manning the oars. Guides can also help you catch fish or can cook you a gourmet dinner on the river.  For those who prefer staying ashore, driving through the Manistee National Forest in this region is a visual treat.

Further north, Pierce Stocking Drive off M109 in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore features gorgeous mature hardwoods but the real gems here are the scenic lookouts that provide glorious panoramic views of an area that Good Morning America has named “The Most Beautiful Place in America.”

One of our favorite inland color-touring highways is M37 between Baldwin and Mesick.  These forests are loaded with brilliant sumac and gorgeous ferns as well as towering maple trees mixed with green pine trees.

When traveling on the east side of Michigan during the fall, be sure to check out the Price Nature Center near Saginaw.  You won’t be disappointed.

When we travel to southeast Michigan in the fall we always make it a point to stop by the Kensington Metropolitan Park near Milford.  The park is filled with white tail deer and other fun animals and birds to photograph as you meander amongst beautiful fall leaves that fill the forest floor.

Take time to explore some side roads during your travels to find Michigan’s hidden visual fall treasures. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for tips on their favorite fall color places and how to get there.

Finally, a highlight of our fall photography expeditions is seeing the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore aboard one of the cruise boats out of Munising. Between the peak fall color and the evening magic light striking the rocky sandstone cliffs, the Pictured Rocks area views last October were breathtaking. We also found great fall color hiking at waterfalls, inland lakes and woodlands in the Hiawatha National Forest in the Munising area.

All of these places and countless more are Pure Michigan in the fall. Get out there!

See the image below for Todd and Brad’s top scenic spots in Michigan for fall foliage. Click here to download a full-sized version.

Todd and Brad Reed are a father-son outdoor photography team based in Ludington, Michigan. Visit their website to learn more about the duo and see some of their work.

  • Brenda Gartzke

    Some of my favorite roads are in Mecosta county. The Amish live along some of the finest dirt and natural beauty roads there are. While driving last year I captured a photo of young Amish boys in the field with shocks of hay/straw, loading the wagon and driving the team home with a load. Colored trees draped the dirt road. It made you want to get out the ring of bologna, cheese and crackers and have a picnic. Some of these roads are south of Big Rapids, south and NE of Morley. Another great place are the natural beauty roads in Ada Township, Fallsburg, Lowell.
    We’re going to try yours this year.