Fall Colors in Manistee County Have Peaked!

Fall colors in areas across Michigan have begun to peak, and Manistee County is no exception! Today, guest blogger Maralee Cook, a Manistee resident, fills us in on how you can still enjoy fall in its prime during a visit to her hometown.

Manistee County’s gloriously hot and sunny summer has become a brilliant, colorful autumn.  The Great Lake Michigan is a deeper blue, the air is cool and crisp, and from the Manistee Pierhead light you can see north up the coast to Frankfort and south to the Point Sable Light.  The trees are topped with leaves in hues you find on an artist’s palette:  lemon yellow, gamboge, scarlet, vermilion, crimson, burnt sienna and more.  They line the shores of Lake Michigan, the banks of over 270 miles of county rivers, and highways and back roads that carry us past miles of charming towns, farmland and orchards on gently rolling hills.  Farm markets and Manistee’s Saturday Farmer’s Market offer bushel baskets overflowing with fall fruits and vegetables.  Colorful mums and bright orange pumpkins wait by the hundreds to come home with you and decorate your front porch for Halloween.  Come for an autumn drive, bike ride, canoe trip or to play golf or fish.  And there are lots of festivals and events during the rest of October, to round out your stay. 

Check out visitmanisteecounty.com with paper and pencil in hand, ready to mark on your calendar some of our special events.

  • West Michigan Juried Art Show at Hardy Hall in Manistee’s Ramsdell Theatre through Oct. 21.
  • “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” performed at the Ramsdell Theatre through Oct. 21
  • Josh White Jr. live at the Ramsdell Theatre Oct. 26
  • Metropolitan Opera’s performance live in HD of Verdi’s “Otello” Oct. 27 at the Ramsdell Theatre
  • Manistee’s Ghost Ship each weekend in October
  • Scarecrow conventions in Onekama and Arcadia all month
  • Twisted Trails Off Road Park Pumpkin Run and Team Kamikaze
  • Salmon running at the Little Manistee River Weir
  • Fishing continues (always!) in the rivers and lakes

Maralee Cook is a freelance writer living in Manistee, Michigan.

Have you visited Manistee County this year? Share with us in the comments section below!

A Picture Perfect Fall Color Tour

Jesse Land, founder of Things to do in the U.P., is back to take us on another fall color tour around the Upper Peninsula. If you missed his last two posts, be sure to check out his recommendations on tours around the Keweenaw Peninsula and the central area of the U.P. 

For more ideas on fall color tours around Michigan, see this week’s Pure Michigan fall color report on michigan.org.

So far, I’ve taken you on one fall color tour through the rugged Keweenaw Peninsula, and on another “off the beaten path” through the central U.P. Today, I’m going to lead you from Marquette to Grand Marais, via the one of the Upper Peninsula’s crown jewels, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You’ll definitely want to bring your camera along for this one!

Before we get started, Marquette has oodles of great places to stay. A couple of my favorite are the historic Landmark Inn and newly constructed Hampton Inn, both of which are within walking distance from Marquette’s many excellent eating and drinking establishments. (The Vierling is one of my favorites.)

Breakfast in Marquette

Both of the aforementioned hotels have good breakfast options. That said, the Sweetwater Café has been woven into the fabric of the Marquette breakfast scene for as long as I can recall, and is well worth a look. According to their website, they serve “both old fashioned favorites and unique dishes inspired by flavors from around the world.” Having eaten there more than a few times, I’d say that’s a very accurate description. Drink some coffee. Eat breakfast. Leave with a smile on your face.

The Morning Drive

Now that you’ve got a full belly and some caffeine in your system, lets’ hit the road! M-28 east stretches about forty five miles east from Marquette to Munising. It’s a pretty drive full of fall color. It also hugs the Lake Superior shoreline most of the way so you’ll see “the big lake” appear through gaps in the vibrant hardwoods every now and again.

Pictured Rocks – Via Boat Tour!

To make the most of your day, get to Munising in time to catch the 10:00 AM Pictured Rocks boat tour. The “regular cruise” lasts about two hours and forty minutes, and will show you some of the most popular Pictured Rocks sites, including Miners Castle, Lovers Leap, Grand Portal, and many others! It’s the best way to see much of what Pictured Rocks has to offer in a relatively short period of time. (2012 tours run through October 21st)

The Famous Highway H-58

Highway H-58, stretching from Munising to Grand Marais, is a wonderfully curvy drive. You’ll pass by the White Birch Forest (brilliant in fall) and wind through an endless stand of hardwoods as you drive east toward Grand Marais.

If you’re up for a hike, I’d recommend the venturing off on the three mile (round trip) hike to Chapel Falls. It’s roughly midway between Munising and Grand Marais, and leads down an easy trail through a forest of hardwoods that are always full of color in autumn.

H-58 boasts several scenic turnouts, but I’d highly recommend stopping at the Logslide Overlook. Once literally used to slide huge logs down the 300 foot drop to Lake Superior, Logslide is now a gorgeous scenic overlook that offers wonderful views of the Au Sable lighthouse to the west and the expansive Grand Sable Dunes to the east.

Destination Grand Marais

A little further east lies Grand Marais, a wonderful little harbor village that fills up in the summer but offers travelers some elbow room in the fall. As far as places to stay here, I’ve heard great things about the Hill Top Cabins, though they’ve always had no vacancy when I’ve called! (I’m thinking that’s a good thing.)

I recommend checking out the one of a kind Lake Superior Brewing Company for great pizza, fresh fish and locally brewed beer. And if you end up staying the night, the West Bay Diner is a standout breakfast spot!

If you do even some of what I’ve recommended, at the end of the day you should have a good handle on what Pictured Rocks is all about, and you’ll hopefully also have filled up your camera with picture perfect memories!

Jesse Land is the founder of Things to do in the U.P., a website dedicated to helping people discover the best of the Upper Peninsula. For regular Upper Peninsula travel tips, follow Things to do in the U.P. on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/thingstodointheup.

Your Pure Michigan Fall Color Report – Oct. 4-10, 2012

Autumn in Michigan is in full swing, and peak fall color has arrived in many parts of the state. If you haven’t planned a fall color tour yet, this weekend could be the perfect opportunity! Below is a recap of this week’s Michigan fall color report. For more details, visit michigan.org.

Upper Peninsula

Most of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is at or near peak conditions; so, you really can’t go wrong with color viewing once you cross the Mighty Mac, where the Peninsula is a blaze of yellow, bronze, gold and reds. In and around Chippewa, viewers will find some of the best places to see the fall foliage at the Cut River Bridge’s forested river valley west of St. Ignace, Pictured Rocks along Lake Superior in Munising, or Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise.

A variety of colors are now showing on scenic drives in the Keweenaw among the area’s Aspens, beech, hickory, maples oaks and tamaracks. Brockway Mountain Drive offers a spectacular view of the surrounding area, where colors are grand. The most prevalent colors are red and orange, with splashes of yellow. Cruise the shoreline of Lake Superior at roadside parks or at one of the many restaurants and shops along the shore.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Strokes of beautiful fall hues are developing rapidly throughout Charlevoix county with peak conditions a week or two away. This weekend, viewers will find the most saturation in the eastern part of the county in the Chandler Hills area. For a great color tour, locals recommend a drive along Thumb Lake Road (C-48) starting north of Vanderbilt to Boyne Falls. Continue on C-48 through the hilly country roads through East Jordan and Elsworth, ending at US-31 in Atwood.

An explosion of fall color makes everything in the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan even more beautiful, more memorable. A montage of red, orange and yellow provides the perfect backdrop for our charming Victorian towns. And somehow, makes the royal blue of Little Traverse Bay appear even bluer.

You can take in the autumn beauty with a leisurely bike ride along the lakeshore. Or hop on a chair lift and enjoy the panoramic view. From the chair lifts, you can see many of the area’s 16 golf courses. The colors that border the lush green fairways make fall golf here absolutely unforgettable.

Of course, no trip to the area this time of year would be complete without a tour of the famous Tunnel of Trees, which boasts its spectacular burst of fall majesty. 

The Old Mission Peninsula juts bravely into Grand Traverse Bay, nearly 20 miles long and in some places as little as a mile wide. A beautiful patchwork of orchards, vineyards, forests and villages, it’s the perfect place for a morning or afternoon drive that combines fall color with beautiful views of the bay, visits to wineries and roadside fruit stands and unforgettable meals at several charming restaurants. Follow M-37 (Center Road) north from Traverse City. The road begins with a steep climb through pleasant residential and orchard country, descends to the shore of East Bay and gradually climbs again to a spectacular view point near the Chateau Grand Traverse winery that overlooks both East and West Grand Traverse Bays. About a mile past the charming town of Mapleton, turn right onto Smoky Hollow Road and follow it down through vineyards and orchards to the quiet village of Old Mission, the oldest permanent settlement in the region. Take a left turn onto Swaney Road and follow it back to M-37, where a right turn will have you heading north to the picturesque Old Mission Point lighthouse. On the return journey, head back south on M-37 to Mapleton. Here you’ll turn right onto Bowers Harbor Road and follow it down to the shore of West Bay. Keeping to the left, you’ll return to Traverse City by way of Peninsula Drive, a pleasant residential road that skirts the shore of the bay with wonderful views of isolated Power Island, Neahtawanta Point and the distant hills of the Leelanau Peninsula. Peak conditions are less than a week away.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

A popular Alcona route for color viewing by car is around the water. Long Lake and Grand Lake are two picturesque bodies of water that circle the area in a mosaic of magnificent fall color. Attention-grabbing side trips include stops at two historic lighthouses and a natural area that was the site of an old logging village. Hubbard Lake–the largest inland lake in Northeast Michigan–is located among the forests and hills of Alcona County and offers excellent roads that connect with US-23, F-41 and M-72, and offer miles of colorful woodlands for great views of the lake and samples of brilliant fall foliage. The area–now showcasing a beautiful canvas of bronze, crimson, gold, pale cream, purple, red, russet and yellow–is less than one week away from peak color conditions.

In Alpena and surrounding area, Mother Nature seems to be holding back on the eagerly-awaited autumnal color show. A few impatient cast members–maples with their scarlet and persimmon dressings and poplars with their vibrant yellow jackets–are putting on a little side show of their own, while the rest of the cast for the grand production waits behind a curtain of green leaves. Fall is the perfect time to have dinner at the Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Glennie then travel a little further west to catch a splendorous sunset across the Alcona Pond. Displaying a gorgeous array of fall colors, the region expects to be at peak conditions in one or two more weeks.

Heading east, in an around the Gaylord area,  are beautiful reds, yellows and golds, as beech and maples trees take center stage for the area’s fall color presentation. Now, is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of fall’s brilliance as the area is currently displaying peak color.

A bit further south, the Grayling area is predicting peak conditions this coming weekend. Although the southern part of the county is somewhat behind the northern portion, color conditions are good. Traveling along  M-93 toward Hartwick Pines State Park is particular striking against a background of rich dark greens pines, making the bronze and russet oaks, along with the area’s gold, red and yellow maples especially vibrant. For a nice circular drive, take M-93 to County Road 612, then head west into Frederic and take Old 27 south back into Grayling. Make plans to visit the area soon, as reporters are forecasting peak conditions in less than a week.

Southeast

Southeastern  Michigan’s fall color route skirts three waterways to the maritime city of Port Huron and rolls through historic towns that weave through the region. October offers the best time for viewing autumn hues at a variety of region’s parks, while stopping to taste seasonal treats at cider mills , roadside markets and u-pick farms along the way.

Southwest
From city scenes and sand dunes to wineries, farm markets and Lake Michigan sunsets, southwest Michigan welcomes leaf-peepers to view their color show along country roads, trails, and back roads all across the region. This region’s color is best enjoyed from early to late October.

Visit michigan.org for a complete update on Michigan fall colors – including deals, events and more in regions with the most vibrant color displays. Have you seen peak color in your neighborhood? Share with us below!