Explore Minnesota Fall Color Update - Oct. 13, 2016

EMT logo and social media
Explore Minnesota Fall Color Update -  Oct. 13, 2016
Photo by Travis Novitsky


Lovely fall color fills much of the southern one-third of the state. The majority of fall color in the northern two-thirds of the state now blankets the ground.

The Explore Minnesota Tourism Fall Color Update will be sent each Thursday afternoon during the fall color season, with additional updates as conditions warrant. Information in this report is provided courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Three Rivers Park District, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Please note that fall color can change rapidly due to wind, rain and frost.

For a customized travel planner for your next Minnesota getaway, please call one of our travel counselors at to 888-VISITMN (888-847-4866), or request your planner at Contact a Travel Counselor. Sign up to receive any or all of our reports by email.

[Southern] [Minneapolis-St. Paul Area] [Central] [Northwest] [Northeast]


Northeast Minnesota

Most parks in Northeast Minnesota are now past peak fall color.

Scenic State Park -Grand Rapids/Bigfork
Fall color is much more subdued now that many leaves have fallen. Rent a canoe or kayak to enjoy the remaining fall colors reflecting off of Coon and Sandwick lakes. A hike along Chase Point Trail will also offer beautiful views.

Bear Head Lake State Park -Ely
The tamaracks are quickly turning a stunning golden orange. The rest of the trees are mostly bare.

Cascade River State Park -Grand Marais
The park trees remain fairy vivid, but the autumn colors are starting to fade. Lookout Mountain is still worth the hike, and the falls are amazing with the high water flows.

Gooseberry Falls State Park -Two Harbors
Leaf color remains bright and beautiful. High winds have brought down most of the leaves on the early turning trees, but the maples and oaks continue to display shades of yellow, orange and red. High Point Lookout and the Gitchi Gummi Trail which overlooks the Gooseberry River valley offer beautiful views. Numerous Gooseberry Falls programs will be offered this weekend, Oct. 15-16.

St. Croix State Park -east of Hinckley
Most species of trees and shrubs are past their peak, but the oaks and tamaracks continue their colorful display. Park staff recommend driving to the base of the fire tower then climbing to the top for a panoramic view.

Northwest Minnesota

Most parks in Northwest Minnesota are now past peak fall color.

Hayes Lake State Park -Roseau
Peak fall color has passed, and the majority of trees have lost their leaves.

Big Bog State Recreation Area -Waskish
Most trees around Ludlow Pond are holding onto their brightly colored leaves, and the tamaracks are a vibrant yellow and orange. Climb the fire tower for a spectacular view of the Upper Red Lake shoreline and the Big Bog.

Itasca State Park -north of Park Rapids
While the park trees are past their peak, the tamaracks are turning a stunning deep gold. The smaller red oaks are holding onto their lovely deep orange and red leaves, and pockets of aspen are still clinging to their orange-yellow leaves. Some of the sheltered maples remain bright red and orange. The vibrant tamarack stands can best be viewed from the South Entrance Road and Bog D. Hikes along the Dr. Roberts Boardwalk, Brower and Schoolcraft trails will also offer beautiful views of the tamaracks.

Buffalo River State Park -Glyndon, east of Moorhead
The bluestem grasses remain a lovely golden brown. The leaves are rapidly falling to the ground. Take a stroll through the campground where a number of maples are retaining their colorful leaves.

Central Minnesota

Most parks in Central Minnesota are now past peak fall color. Two state parks, however, are reported to be at their peak: Sibley and Mille Lacs Kathio.

Maplewood State Park -Pelican Rapids
The trees within the park are just past their peak, and some trees are now bare. Still, lots of lovely fall remains above ground in many of the sugar maples, and the native prairie grasses are still golden. The sumac are retaining their crimson leaves. Hallaway Hill is always an excellent vantage point to view fall colors, and the scenic Park Drive offers a colorful 4.5-mile drive through the heart of Maplewood's forests, lakes and prairies.

Sibley State Park -north of Willmar
Fall color is at its peak! The red oak and aspen trees are filled with rust and gold leaves. The bur oaks are adding shiny bronze to the mix. Leaves are falling, but peak fall color should last through this weekend. Begin at the park's interpretive center for a park map, then make your way to Mount Tom for a panoramic view of Sibley and beyond. A drive along the Glacial Ridge Minnesota Scenic Byway is also highly recommended.

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park -Little Falls
Most of the trees are now bare, however, a few of the oaks and maples are holding onto their colorful leaves. The best fall color can be found along the Pike Creek and Mississippi River trails.

Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area -Crosby, northeast of Brainerd
While Cuyuna Country is still very colorful, many trees are now bare. "Miner's Mountain" is the hot spot for fall color viewing in Cuyuna Country, and it is well worth the climb to see panoramic views from 200-feet above sea level! Spectacular views can also be found along the mountain bike trails and the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail. The Sagamore Unit offers 10-miles of scenic off-pavement hiking.

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park -Onamia
The forest is glowing with bright yellow leaves, and the park is close to peak fall color. This weekend should be the best time to view the fall foliage. Climb the Observation Tower to get a bird's-eye view of Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, Lake Mille Lacs and the surrounding areas. The Landmark Trail offers the closest views of Lake Ogechie from land. Check out the pictures on Mille Lacs Kathio's fall color page.

Savanna Portage State Park -north of McGregor
While most trees are just past peak, the aspen ridges are golden, and lots of warm yellow, orange and burgundy fall color still fills the park. Trails along Loon Lake and Lake Shumway are recommended.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Area

Fall color continues to advance through most Twin Cities area parks, but staff at some parks report peak fall color conditions. Parks currently recommended include Wild River State Park, and the Big Woods parks within the Three Rivers Park District.

Wild River State Park -Almelund, east of North Branch
The maples are at their peak, with beautiful gold and orange leaves, and a few filled with bright red leaves. There is a muted display this year, but the warm colors are still striking in the sunlight. The prairie grasses are adding to the golden glow. The oak trees are changing color, and should remain colorful through the end of October. The River Trail accessed from the boat landing area and picnic area parking lot is one of the park's most scenic trails. The ridge above Amik's Pond is also beautiful. For a longer hike, travel the Highland Hills Trail.

Interstate State Park -Taylors Falls
More leaves are changing each day. While the color is more subtle this year, orange and yellow leaves fill the river valley. The maple and basswood leaves are falling, but the oak trees are adding shades of rusty red to the landscape. The Sandstone Bluffs Trail offers beautiful views of the St. Croix River. Check out the Pothole Exploration Tours offered this Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15-16.

Afton State Park - Afton, north of Hastings
Fall color change is approaching 75 percent, with the maples and oaks just about at their peak shades of red, orange, gold and yellow. Some of the earliest turning trees have already lost their leaves. The short drive into the park offers views of the colorful prairies and bluffside forests. The overlook near the middle picnic area provides an excellent view of the St. Croix River valley. A favorite hike is the North River Trail along the St. Croix River.

Fort Snelling State Park -St. Paul
The cottonwood trees are quickly shedding their golden leaves. The silver maple trees are fading from green to gold. The oak trees behind Snelling Lake remain mostly green. Enjoy a crisp walk through the floodplain forest under a golden cottonwood canopy on Pike Island. The trails along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, and around Snelling Lake are just about at peak color. Visitors can also rent a Nice Ride bike to tour the main park, and rent a canoe for a paddle on Snelling Lake. Check out the fall programs offered at Fort Snelling State Park.

Three Rivers Park District -Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott and Wright counties
Peak or near peak conditions can be found in the Big Woods parks of the Three Rivers Park District. The best fall color this week should be at Lake Rebecca, Baker, and Elm Creek park reserves. Many of the ash and elm trees have already lost their leaves, but most of the maples have turned stunning shades or yellow, orange and red. The sumac and dogwood are displaying bright crimson leaves along most forest edges and open fields. The oak dominated parks, such as Murphy-Hanrehan and Hyland Park reserves, continue to take on color.

Southern Minnesota

A wide range of fall color can be found in Southern Minnesota. Parks recommended for peak or near peak conditions include Great River Bluffs and Whitewater state parks.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park -southeast of Northfield
Colorful leaves are falling, but the opportunity for nice fall color views remains throughout the park. A stroll through the woods takes you through a canopy of rich orange and red oaks. The Fawn Trail loop north of the Hidden Falls Trail is recommended. A trip to see the waterfall is always worthwhile, and the scene is even more awe-inspiring due to the fast flowing water.

Frontenac State Park -southeast of Red Wing
The sumac are turning red, the birch and aspen are turning yellow and gold, and the maples are taking on shades of orange, red and pink! The drive along County 28 Blvd offers beautiful views of the prairie grasses and early turning leaves.

Great River Bluffs State Park -southeast of Winona
The maples, sumac and walnut trees are quickly turning color, with some of the trees and shrubs now stunning shades of yellow, orange, and red. Check out the most recent pictures of the colorful bluffs!

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park -Preston
The maples range from bright yellow to orange. The sumac are at peak shades of red and orange, the Virginia creeper vines are red, and the dogwood is purple. Check out the beautiful valley from the scenic overlook. Forestville offers 3 trout streams and 17 miles of horse trails. Mystery Cave Scenic Tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of October.

Whitewater State Park -Altura, north of St. Charles
The fall colors popped earlier this week, and the oaks, maples, cherry, hackberry and aspen are all very stunning. Hike the Coyote Point Trail for some great views of the colorful bluffs. Visitors will want to hurry to see the beautiful views before the leaves fall to the ground. Check out the programs offered at Whitewater.

Sakatah Lake State Park -Waterville, west of Faribault
About 40% of the leaves have fallen, but nice fall color can still be found in scattered trees and in the golden prairies. Biking the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a great way to view the fall colors. this trail runs 39-miles from Mankato to Faribault.

Fort Ridgely State Park - northwest of New Ulm
The trees and shrubs continue to turn lovely fall colors, but some leaves are already blanketing the trails. The prairie grasses are retaining their gold, rust and purple colors. The Historic Fort Site is open Saturday and Sunday for self-guided tours.

Camden State Park -south of Marshall
Fall color is nearing its peak. The prairie grasses remain beautiful shades of gold, rust and purple, and the maples, basswood and oaks are rapidly turning shades of red, orange and yellow. The Redwood River Valley is truly stunning. For the best views, head to the west end of the park.