The North Shore of Lake Superior is one of the premier spots in the area to experience the sights and sounds of fall. Each year one of the favorite activities of our guests is to spend a day enjoying the majestic fall colors.
The oak, maple, basswood, pine, spruce, cedar, aspen, and birch trees come alive with spectacular hues that have to be seen to be believed. The forests come alive with yellows, oranges, golds, browns and reds.
Each Fall Colors Season on the North Shore is unique. The “peak” time can be hard to predict, but the season typically starts in early September and runs through mid-October. In fact, some leaves are already starting to change here on the North Shore. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Color Finder is a handy guide to help plan your trip.
This year’s fall color season will be unlike most. Weather is the biggest influencer on the changing leaves. It has been exceptionally dry in Minnesota and throughout the upper Midwest. Experts say these dry conditions mean the leaves will start to turn colors earlier than in a normal season.
So how does the lack of rain impact the fall colors? The best fall color seasons occur after a wet, warm summer followed by cool, sunny days in the fall.
When a healthy tree has green leaves, it produces energy through the process of photosynthesis using energy from the sun (perhaps you remember this from your grade school science class.)
A drought is stressful on trees and makes it harder for their roots to get at the water in the soil. So, to conserve water, trees shed their leaves early and go dormant as they would in preparation for winter. When a tree is dry, it cannot produce energy through photosynthesis causing the leaves to turn colors earlier than usual.
The lack of rain can also influence the colors you will see this season. Experts say to expect more gold, tan, bronze and auburn in the forests this season.
Now, what does that all mean for your fall trip to the North Shore? You might want to visit a little earlier this season to experience the best of the autumn colors. To help you plan your trip, we put together a Fall Colors Map with some of our favorite hikes that will take you to some of the best vantage points in the area.