For many travelers, autumn is their favorite time to visit the Keweenaw. As the summer temperatures wane, the Keweenaw’s landscape experiences a vibrant change from a sea of green to waves of orange, red and gold. The dramatic change happens a little earlier up here than in many parts of the country because of our cooler climate, so pack your best flannel(s) and come experience the Keweenaw in its full fall glory.
When do Fall Colors Peak in the Keweenaw?
Because of the micro-climate created by Lake Superior and the peninsula’s northern location, the Keweenaw’s fall colors usually peak between the last week of September and the first two weeks of October. Specific Keweenaw locations may vary with Copper Harbor and Isle Royale peaking a bit later than areas farther south.
Tips for Your Keweenaw Fall Colors Tour
Take a Scenic Drive
The Keweenaw is filled with beautiful scenic sites, so this suggestion isn’t all that creative. But there are some scenic drives along our highways that will take your breath away. You’ll be rewarded with soul-stirring views of Lake Superior and plenty of opportunities to hop out of the car and explore.
Be sure not to pass on Brockway Mountain Drive between Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor. This little road off M-26 winds up 720 feet to the top of Brockway Mountain. On a clear day you can see for miles. The view is one of the best in the Upper Peninsula.
Hit the Trails
Whether its by foot, bike, ATV, or paddle, the Keweenaw’s hundred of miles of recreation trails are a great way to experience fall colors. Choose your preferred form of transportation and grab a map to explore the area.
Waterfalls are rejuvenated in the fall months thanks to the extra precipitation in September and October. The rushing waters are framed by the beautiful fall colors minus those pesky mosquito that are a nuisance in the spring.
Bond Falls State Scenic Site
Take in a Lake Superior Sunset
Autumn offers all the amazing sunsets of summer, so a lot earlier! While the cooler temperatures may prevent you from sticking your toes in Lake Superior, you can still enjoy a s’more or two along the beach as you watch the sun slip below the horizon. You’ll be amazed as the blue sky changes to deep shades of orange, red, pinks and purples. For the best views, head to the western side of the peninsula.
Go Star Gazing
With earlier sunsets come more stargazing opportunities. Thanks to the Keweenaw’s incredibly low level of light pollution, the night’s sky is much clearer than in many other parts of the Midwest. Combine that with our northern location, you may be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights dance across the sky.
Stargazing on Brockway Mountain Drive in Copper Harbor. Photo Credit: @koar.up on Instagram
Scenic Sites and Nature Areas to Explore
Explore a myriad of scenic sites and hiking trails bursting with fall color throughout the Keweenaw.
The park is located two miles east of the Michigan Tech University campus on the east end of the Houghtons Waterfront Trail. There is a variety of activities for every season to do at the Nara Nat ... More Info
Swedetown Recreation Area is 1900 acres of rolling, primarily wooded land set aside for public use by Calumet Township. It offers outstanding year-round trails for all ages and abilities. Swedetown Ch More Info
One of Americas few island national parks offers over 165 miles of hiking trails with a variety of options for trip length and difficulty. A unique wilderness experience for visitors accessible on ... More Info
The Keweenaw Land Trust acquired the uppermost Hungarian Falls in 2013 after a brief but very successful community fundraising campaign to keep this special place open to the public forever, rathe ... More Info
Brockway Mountain Drive Copper Harbor, MI 49950 US
Region: Copper Harbor
Brockway Mountain is composed of Lake Shore Traps which are lava flows inter-twined with Copper Harbor Conglomerate. This .75 mile long trail will take you over that exposed lava and conglomerate ... More Info
The Lake Bailey Wildlife Sanctuary is a two mile round trip that passes through several different forest communities as it rises almost 200 feet in elevation to a breathtaking overlook. Make sure ... More Info
The Eagle Harbor Township Conservation and Recreation Area includes Eliza Lake Preserve, Long Lake Refuge, and George Hite Dunes and Marshes. These 10 miles of trails are groomed in the winter for ... More Info
The Hunters Point Park has the North Shore Trail and the South Shore Trail that eventually come together to loop you through numerous scenic overlooks and gives you access to a half-mile of pictur ... More Info
The Gratiot Lake Preserve is a 307 acre wooded parcel that includes wetlands, the outlet of the lake at the Little Gratiot River, and over 10,000 feet of shoreline varying from sand to cobblestone ... More Info
The late Mary Sinish grew up in the Keweenaw, spending summers along the Portage Waterway on her familys land. Mrs. Sinish donated 40 acres to the Keweenaw Land Trust with the intention of making ... More Info
Originally established in 1999, the Keweenaw Land Trusts Paavola Wetlands Nature Area has gone through numerous expansions and now encompasses 215 acres of wetland and upland habitat just north of ... More Info
This moderately difficult, 4.5 mile trail is in the heart of the Keweenaw and provides varied landscapes and 1500 feet of Lake Superior Shoreline. To get there from US-41 on the North end of Cal ... More Info
This easy, half mile trail can be wet in the spring and after heavy rain but with the boardwalk that extends through a cedar swamp it makes for a great learning experience.
To get there from Houg ... More Info
This 37 acre nature sanctuary is mostly wetlands vegetated with cedar, balsam fir, black spruce, red maple, and may different species of orchids. This fairly easy, .3 mile trail is also part of th ... More Info
The Estivant Pines is the largest tract of old-growth Eastern White Pines preserved in Michigan. It contains hundreds of 300-500 year old white pines measuring anywhere from 3 to 5 feet in diamete ... More Info
The sanctuary contains most of the top of the huge bluff locally known as Bare Bluff. A giant monolith that rises 588 feet above Lake Superior. This difficult, 3 mile long trail is very rugged wit ... More Info
This easy to moderate, 1.5 mile roundtrip trail is a favorite among photographers. Its 36 acres boasts a variety of plant communities as well as a spectacular array of rocks covered with colorful ... More Info
This moderately difficult trail is .75 miles long and loops around one of the most popular overlooks of Brockway Mountain Drive. The trail offers a breathtaking view of Lake Superior looking North ... More Info
This sanctuary extends up the hillside from US-41 and straddles a portion of Brockway Mountain Drive. Garden brook traverses the sanctuary with its headwaters in the Klipfel Memorial Sanctuary and ... More Info
The Upson Lake trailhead begins 400 feet east of where the Keweenaw Shore trail intersects with the Brockway Mountain Drive. The first part of the Upson Lake trail follows an old road to Upson Cre ... More Info
This difficult, steady uphill climb, locally known as Mount Baldy or Lookout Mountain, offers spectacular panoramic views of lake Superior and the Keweenaw Peninsula. At the top of this trail you ... More Info
This moderate, flat trail is at the northernmost tip of the Keweenaw. The 1,433 acre preserve, locally known as Horseshoe Harbor, is the largest and highest quality mainland preserve for bedrock b ... More Info
Founded in 2006, a 26-acre Boston Pond Nature Area was acquired by the Keweenaw Land Trust to create a nature area at a highly visible location along the US-41 Copper Country Trail National Sceni ... More Info
The 96-acre Steve Farm Nature Area at Lovell Creek is home to an extensive wetland ecosystem, numerous beaver dams, and upland forest habitats available for public enjoyment. The property is locat ... More Info
A touch of nature close to home is the result of a generous bequest from Marilyn Mason. Marilyn was inspired by the land protection, stewardship and education efforts of the Keweenaw Land Trust. U ... More Info
The Pilgrim Community Forest was established by the Keweenaw Land Trust in the fall of 2014. The 276-acre forest is just minutes from Houghton and the acquisition is part of a larger conservation ... More Info
The property is open to the public for non-motorized, low-impact recreation, including hiking, bird watching, fishing, hunting, paddling, and rustic camping along the shoreline. The property can be ac More Info