Where to See Fall Foliage in Michigan

The Lake of the Clouds, in Porcupine Mountains, Michigan, is a stunning spot to enjoy the fall colors
The Lake of the Clouds, in Porcupine Mountains, Michigan, is a stunning spot to enjoy the fall colors | © agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mike Title
12 October 2020

The state of Michigan has natural beauty and outdoor activities year round, but the fall foliage, from as early as mid-September, can be seen in the mountains, on the lake or from the road. Here’s our roundup of the best places to enjoy the change in seasons.

Porcupine Mountains

Natural Feature
Map View

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan lies wild forest, with trails that attract serious hikers from far and wide. The overlook at the Lake of the Clouds hike is something else in fall, when you can see the sky turn as orange as the leaves and reflected in the water – it’s a scene you’ll struggle to capture in a photo. The waterfalls here are another great draw at this time of year.

Tunnel of Trees

Natural Feature
Map View

There are many spectacular drives in Michigan, but by far the best in fall is the Tunnel of Trees on the M-119, which twists and turns through a canopy of trees including hardwoods. There are some pretty hairy turns, so please be careful at the notorious Devil’s Elbow and Horseshoe Curve. Definitely one to be done in a convertible if possible, this is a drive you’ll want to write home about.

Elmwood Cemetery

Map View

Detroit is putting itself firmly back on the map with visitors getting a chance to thankfully embrace its full cultural heritage. In the old Elmwood Cemetery, which dates back to the 1800s, there are nearly 100 different types of tree and it is now a certified arboretum. With detailed tours available, this is a destination for all botany enthusiasts at any time of year, although fall is when the trees and the history of the cemetery come alive.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Natural Feature, Park
Map View

The waterfall in this state park, in the Upper Peninsula, are visited by nature lovers year round, but from the observation platform at the crest, you can see it at its most attractive during fall. There are hikes through the park that lead under a canopy of colors that flow with the energy of the changing season. You can do this on foot or by bike, but by boat is truly delightful as the white pines turn to flaming copper-red.

Pictured Rocks

Map View
Michigan’s Pictured Rocks, in the Upper West Peninsula, is ideal if you love outdoor activities, but it also has pretty waterfalls and hiking through woods of beech, spruce and cedar. There’s kayaking and boating on the lake, and as the trees change into their fall colors, the backdrop of reds, yellows and oranges brings a joyous end to summer.

Dead River Falls

Natural Feature
Map View
Autumn color along the Dead River near Marquette, Michigan USA
© Danita Delimont / Alamy Stock Photo

Dead River Falls, just outside of the town of Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, away from the tourist trails, is a 100ft (30m) waterfall in a setting that’s just right for you to enjoy in fall, when the trees are transitioning. The trek is not too difficult, and it gives you a chance to connect with nature. However, the current is deceptively strong, so do not be tempted to go in unless you’re a strong swimmer.

Ann Arbor

Natural Feature
Map View
Beautiful view of autumn trees by the lake in Waterloo Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Reflection of colorful leaves in lake water under blue sky.
© Hossein Basirat / Alamy Stock Photo

Ann Arbor, otherwise known as Tree Town, is only 45 minutes’ drive west from Detroit, but could not be further away in terms of energy. Quaint and filled to the brim with old Americana, it is best visited in fall, when it displays incredible colors of red, yellow and orange. For best views, visit Nichols Arboretum, in the University of Michigan, and Riverside Park.

These recommendations were updated on October 12, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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