Fall Color in MI Great Lakes Bay

According to Pure Michigan’s fall color report, the saturation in Central Michigan is about 50-75%, which means you still have time to plan a fall color trip in MI Great Lakes Bay! It’s time to bring your camera and capture one of the most spectacular views within a year. What makes your fall color tour in MI Great Lakes Bay so fascinating is that you have a variety of ways to enjoy the fall colors. While taking a stroll in one of our most popular trails, you can also explore the beauty of fall by taking a sail on a tall ship or taking a boat! For those who are planning the fall color trip, here are some tips and destinations we recommend. Make sure to bring your camera! :]


Saginaw Valley Rail Trail
The 9.2-mile long trail that edges Saginaw’s southern boundary is a great choice for your fall color trip. The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail has been highly recommended by visitors for its landscape and scenic views. You can explore the great views in its 3 pocket parks from gazebos, or sit down on a bench to relax with nature. The last half of the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail skirts the Shiawassee State Game Area, giving you access to some of the region’s best wildlife viewing.

Pere Marquette Trail
If you love hitting the trails, then we are sure you don’t want to miss the Pere Marquette Trail, a 30-mile long trails connecting between Midland and Clare. The Pere Marquette Trail is one of the most heavily used trails in Michigan, according to a survey conducted by Michigan State University in 2002. The Pere Marquette Trail is well known for its stunning scenery of pine and maple tree, and you can imagine how beautiful the fall color is…particularly at its peak! Visitors are also amazed by the abundant species such as deer and wild birds.

Bay City Riverwalk/Rail Trail
Starting your trip at the Bay City Riverwalk Trail is one of the best ways to exploring the community in fall. The 17.5 miles trial offers luscious sights and sounds, as well as various activities along its route through Bay City and its parks, and through the residential and agricultural areas of Portsmouth, Hampton, and Bangor townships. The trail links to the Bay City State Recreation Area, one of the largest remaining freshwater, coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes, where attract thousands of visitors every year for camping, fishing, and bird watching.

[Tall Ship/Boat]

Johnny Panther Quests
Take a trip through the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge with Johnny Panther Quest Adventure Trips.  It has two sizes of boats: one for about 5 people, and the larger boat will hold 10-12 people.  The trips are 3-5 hours long and you will see a lot of color, birds galore and wildlife such as deer, beavers and more! For more information, please visit Johnny Panther Quests website!

Appledole Tall Ships
If you are planning to go to Bay City, you can take a sail on the Appledole Tall Ships. The Appledole Tall Ships provide three-hour public sailing excursions on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. All sails depart from the downtown Bay City dock. In addition to public sailing, the Appledole Tall ships also hosts private charters, corporate team building programs, and dinner cruises.

Reservation is required, please visit the Appledole Tall Ships website for more information.

Bavarian Belle Riverboat
Take the Bavarian Belle Riverboat, an authentic Stern Driven Paddlewheel riverboat, to explore the fall beauty of Frankenmuth! The Bavarian Belle Riverboat offers a 1-hour historical narrated tour of the Frankenmuth area on its fully restored 150-passenger vessel. The Bavarian Belle is open air canopied on the upper deck and has a fully enclosed lower salon with restrooms. Additionally, its dock and lower level are handicap accessible..

The Bavarian Belle is located in the Frankenmuth River Place, docking at the waterfall. After enjoy your boat tour, don't forget to shop at the Frankenmuth River Place for a variety of clothing, collectibles, toys, artwork, beads, foods, and fudge! 


We recommend staying on the smaller Michigan roadways such as M-52, M-57, M-47, etc.  They are two lane highways, but have a lot of trees along side them.  The speed limit is lower, too!

source: Johnny Panther Quests Facebook                                     


The Dow Gardens
Address: 1809, Eastman Avenue, Midland, MI, 48640
Open Hour [Sep 4 – Oct 31]: Dow Gardens: 9:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
                                         Whiting Forest: 10:00 am – 5:00 p.m.

The Dow Gardens in Midland has become one of the most iconic and popular gardens in the Great Lakes Bay region. Not only do visitors love this 110-acre expanse of stunning garden landscape, local people also enjoy exploring the beauty of the Dows Gardens in every season.

The Dow Gardens also provides a great variety of events for all ages. Check out its website for more information.

Bay City State Park
Address: Bangor charter Township, Michigan

The Bay City State Recreation Area is one of the largest remaining freshwater, coastal wetlands on the Great Lakes, where attract thousands of visitors every year for camping, fishing, and bird watching.

The Bay City State Recreation Area is also nationally recognized as a birding "hot spot" throughout the year.  Birding is particularly spectacular during the spring and fall migratory seasons.

Chippewa Nature Center
Address: 400 Badour Rd,  Midland Township, MI 48640
Open Hour: Mon–Fri 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 
                 Sat 9:00 a.m. –5:00 p.m. 
                 Sun 1:00 –5:00 p.m.

Chippewa Nature Center is a 1,200 acre haven of woodlands, wetlands, rivers and upland fields, with over 15 miles of trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, including the 3.7 mile paved Chippewa Trail for running, walking, biking and inline skating. Interpretive stops along the route tell the exciting story of this unique landscape.

The Visitor Center houses hands-on exhibits in the Ecosystem Gallery. Children will enjoy the Nature Discovery Area, and visitors of all ages should be sure to watch one of the many videos available in the Bur Oak Theater. The Wildlife Viewing Area is a unique way to observe wildlife, and a naturalist is on staff to assist visitors and callers with nature-related questions and concerns.

Additionally, CNC offers a Nature Preschool, Day Camp, and a wide variety of programs, including natural and cultural history programs, nature hikes, paddling trips, workshops and field trips for youth and adults.  Check out  CNC’s website for more information!

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1953 and contains more than 9,600 acres of marsh, bottomland hardwood forest, and grasslands. Wildlife is the prime attraction at Shiawassee. The federal refuge hosts more than 270 species of birds each year including raptors, shore and wading birds, and 100 different species of songbirds. During peak population, usually in late October, you could see up to 20,000 Canada geese and 30,000 ducks are present on the refuge!

You can enjoy the fall color by boat. If you don't want to go through the Refuge by boat, car trails are now open, or it's an excellent opportunity to hike or bike through the Refuge!

 source: Dow Gardens

Are you planning to have a fall color trip in our region? Or, have you ever been to MI Great Lakes Bay in fall? If so, what’s your favorite place to enjoy fall colors? We’d love to hear what you think! Don’t forget to share your experience with us here, on Facebbok or Twitter! Or, you can also share your fall color photos on Instagram with the hashtag #MIGreatLakesGay so that we could find you and share your photos to our fans!

We hope you have a wonderful fall color trip in our region. Go Great Lakes Bay!

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