Fall Color Tour: Peak dates, best roads in Michigan in 2020

fall color
Photo credit (Getty)
By WWJ Newsradio 950

(WWJ) Grab a pumpkin latte and don a cozy sweater, because it's autumn in Michigan. 

And as always, the state will soon be bursting with crisp red, yellow and orange fall leaves that transform the landscape.

So when and where can we expect to see peak fall color in Michigan? 

Speaking to WWJ's Dan Jenkins, MLive Chief Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa said the color change got off to a bit of a slow start early on in September in much of the state.

However, cooler weather made the difference, with temps dipping into the upper 30s to the north mid-month.

"I think we're looking at a normal time period, which is first week or so of October in northern Lower Michigan, and then it works its way down into southern Lower (Michigan) by the second or even the third week," Torregrossa said. "I guess I should say the third or even the fourth week of October by the time it gets into the far southern part into our area, around the Detroit area."

If you're planning to head out on a fall color tour, experts suggest you try a local road instead of a freeway.

With that in mind, the County Road Association of Michigan has released "Don’t Miss" list with some of the prettiest color tour drives in the state for 2020.

“Taking a fall color tour down a county road is a great way to spend an afternoon during this unprecedented time,” said Denise Donohue, CRA executive director. “Michigan’s colors are among the best in the country, making fall the perfect opportunity to go out and enjoy the state’s natural beauty.” “This list of ‘don’t miss’ fall color drives reflects the best suggestions from over two dozen county road agencies who know the best color spots in their area,” she said.

The following regions are listed in order of expected leaf coloring dates starting from the Upper Peninsula and moving south. (Scroll all the way down for metro Detroit). Upper Peninsula (Now - Oct. 5)

Chippewa County

  • North and South Caribou Lake Roads in the DeTour Village area
  • Gogomain Road from Goetzville to Pickford
  • Lakeshore Drive from Brimley to M-123
  • Salt Point Road from M-28 to Lakeshore Drive

Dickinson County

  • Kramer Drive on the north side of the city of Iron Mountain
  • Metropolitan Road near Felch

Gogebic County

  • Black River Road to Black River Harbor
  • Lake Road from Ironwood to Little Girls Point and Superior Falls
  • Black River Road from Bessemer to Copper Peak and Black River Harbor
  • Wolf Mountain Road from US 2 to Wolf Mountain
  • County Road 519N from Wakefield to the mouth of the Big Presque Isle River and Porcupine State Park
  • Thousand Island Lake Road from US 2 to Sylvania Wilderness Park

Houghton County

  • Covered Drive Road
  • Freda Road
  • Calumet Waterworks Road

Iron County

  • Ottawa Lake Road/Hagerman Lake Road loop
  • Pentoga Trail (CR-639) to CR-424 along Chicagon Lake and Pentoga Road from CR-424 to Brule River
  • Bates-Amasa Road (CR-643) US-2 to US-141 by Paint River and Hemlock River
  • Gibbs City Road and Ponozzo Road
  • US-2 to Houghton County

Keweenaw County

  • Brockway Mountain Drive
  • Lac La Belle Road
  • Gratiot Lake Road
  • Mohawk-Gay Road
  • Eagle Harbor Road
  • Cliff Drive
  • Five Mile Point Road

Marquette County

  • County Road 510 from County Road 502 north to Big Bay
  • Triple A off County Road 510 in Big Bay
  • County Road 533 in Skandia
  • M-35 from County Road 480 to Gwinn

Ontonagon County

  • South boundary road from Presquile to Ontonagon

Northern Lower Peninsula (Now - Oct. 7)

Alpena County

  • Bolton Road to Long Lake Road
  • Nicholson Hill Road
  • Scott Road
  • Long Rapids Road

Antrim County

  • Deadman Hill overlook off US-131 viewing Jordan River Valley
  • Jordan River Road off US-131
  • Pinney Bridge Road off M-66
  • Cascade Road off Alba Highway (CR 620)

Crawford County

  • CR101 looking north from CR100 (“Pioneer Hill”)

Emmet County

  • Mitchell Road from Fletcher Road to Cheboygan County line
  • Pleasantview Road from M-119 to Robinson Road
  • Robinson Road from State Road to Pleasantview Road
  • State Road from Harbor Springs to Cross Village
  • Stutsmanville Road from Pleasantview to W. Townline, then W. Townline Road north
  • Brutus Road from Pleasantville Road to US-31
  • Welsheimer Road from W. Stutsmanville Road to Middle Village Drive
  • Middle Village Drive from Welsheimer Road to M-119
  • Williams Road from US-131 to Resort Pike Road
  • Resort Pike Road from Williams Road to Indian Garden Road
  • N. Conway Road from US-31 to Tower Road, Tower Road to Pleasantview Road

Leelanau County

  • North Eagle Highway
  • Newman Road
  • Port Oneida Road
  • Gills Pier Road
  • Schomberg Road

Mason County

  • Lakeshore Drive from Oceana Drive to Iris Road
  • Hawley from Pere Marquette Highway to Walhalla Road
  • South Masten Road to Washington Road and the Ruby Creek area
  • North Lakeshore Drive along Hamlin Lake
  • Custer Road from Hogue Road to US-10

Montmorency County

  • Pleasant Valley Road
  • Farrier Road
  • Carter Road
  • Meridian Line Road

Presque Isle County

  • Long Lake Highway from M-65 into Alpena County
  • E-634 Highway from Polaski Road west to Lake May Road
  • W-638 Highway Ocqueoc Road from Walker Highway to North Allis Highway from Ocqueoc Road west to M-211.

Wexford County

Fall Color Scenic Routes, all starting from downtown Cadillac:

  • Route 1: Around the Lakes (20 miles)
  • Route 2: Northwest to Mesick (63 miles)
  • Route 3: Southwest to Hoxeyville/Luther/Briston (64 miles)
  • Route 4: Northeast to Lake City/Manton (32 miles)

Mid-Michigan (Oct. 7-14)

Barry County

  • Hickory Road from M-43 to east near Gilmore Car Museum
  • Clinton County
  • Maple Rapid Roads from Harris Road to Tallman Road
  • Tallman Road from Maple Rapid Road to Stone Road
  • Stone Road from Tallman Road to Wacousta Road
  • Wacousta Road from Stone Road to Hyde Road
  • Peacock Road from M-78 to Cutler Road
  • Clark Road from Upton Road East 

West Michigan (Oct. 7-14)

Berrien County

  • Blue Star Memorial Highway along Lake Michigan from Van Buren to M-63
  • M-63 south to St. Joseph
  • Red Arrow Highway from Stevensville to Lakeshore Road in New Buffalo
  • Red Arrow Highway to Union Pier then back to Warren Woods Road
  • Red Highway to Madron Lake Road in City of Buchanan

Kalamazoo County

  • Q Avenue – 10th Street to 12th Street, Texas Township
  • U Avenue – 4th Street to 8th Street, Prairie Ronde Township
  • W Avenue – 8th Street to Schoolcraft Village Limits, Prairie Ronde Township
  • 14th Street – Lyons Avenue to U Avenue, Schoolcraft Township
  • U Avenue – Portage Road to 23rd Street, Schoolcraft Township
  • V Avenue – Canadian National Railroad to 28th Street, Brady Township
  • 28th Street – V Avenue to UV Avenue, Brady Township
  • 34th Street – UV Avenue to V Avenue, Brady Township

Kent County

  • Honey Creek Avenue from Pettis Avenue to Cannonsburg Road
  • Bailey Drive from Vergennes Street to Lincoln Lake Avenue
  • Fallasburg Park Drive from Lincoln Lake Avenue to Gavin Lake Avenue
  • 5 Mile Road from Lincoln Lake Avenue to Gavin Lake Avenue
  • Gavin Lake Road from 5-mile road to Belding Road
  • Wabasis Avenue from Belding Road to 12 Mile Road
  • Ramsdell Drive from 5 Mile Road to 11 Mile Road

Muskegon County

  • Scenic Drive from Memorial Drive to Michillinda Road
  • Along Lake Michigan shoreline and Duck Lake

Ottawa County

  • Lakeshore Drive from Grand Haven city limits to Ottawa Beach Road/Holland State Park
  • Hayes Street from M-11 intersection to Berlin Fair Drive/the Berlin Fairgrounds in Marne
  • Leonard Street from intersection on Leonard Street/S. Lake Avenue in Village of Spring Lake to Lamont
  • Mercury Drive/Green Street/N. Cedar Drive from Grand Haven to Riverside County Park

Southeast Michigan (October 7-14)

Macomb County
  • Wales, McKail and Fisher roads in Bruce Township
  • M-53 between 23 and 26 Mile roads
  • 24 Mile Road between Van Dyke Freeway and Shelby Road
  • M-53 between 28 Mile Road and 32 Mile Road
  • Tillson Street, Romeo, MI
  • Lakeshore Drive between 8 Mile Road and Marter Road

Oakland County

  • Lahser Road south of Square Lake Road to just north of Maple Road
  • Franklin Road
  • Orion Road between Rochester and Lake Orion

Washtenaw County

  • Huron River Drive between Mast Road and US-23
  • North Territorial Road between US-23 and M-52

Need more? Check out the Pure Michigan Fall Color Map at this link.