Northern Michigan Fall Color Map: Last Chance for Peak Color!

We’re partnering with Tom O’Hare, chief meteorologist at 9&10 News, to bring you the latest Northern Michigan fall color map every week throughout September and October. You’ll know exactly where to find the best fall foliage and when to plan your vacation. You can also view 2018 and 2019 peak fall color dates below, in addition to current 2020 conditions.

While you’re on the road, check out these 10 best Michigan color tour views and, of course, the Tunnel of Trees is a must.

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2020

October 22, 2020

Have you been out to look at the colors yet? If not, better get out there this week! There is still color around but leaves are falling quickly for inland areas. The best viewing for those who are inland is taking a walk in the woods. The leaves on the outside are past peak but inside the forest, they are peaking!

The Tunnel of Trees is peaking and should last through the coming weekend! That’s about the same story for areas near the lakes. The colors are really popping around the Grand Traverse region and down along the lakeshore. The yellows and oranges are are just spectacular! Soak up the color while it’s here because it won’t last much longer. There are areas lakeside where leaves are dropping fast, so I recommend trips along M-22 and US-31, especially south of Benzonia. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

Read Next: The Ultimate M-22 Road Trip

October 15, 2020

Peak color is here, Northern Michigan! The leaves are just exploding with color all across the Lower Peninsula. Even though the U.P. is past peak don’t let that stop you from checking out the color. It’s still beautiful all over the area.

The Tunnel of Trees is quickly approaching peak and should be there this weekend lasting through much of next week. It’s the same story for lakeside areas that were just at 50%.

Bright yellows, oranges and radiant reds are found around every corner. Take a drive from Cadillac to Traverse City and you get everything. The High Rollway view west of Baxter Bridge overlooking the Manistee River is just spectacular. I highly recommend the trip! Just like the U.P., areas of the L.P. have past peak conditions in spots. Don’t worry about it—the color is still there, just not as bright. Talk a walk in the woods and you’ll see trees still approaching peak! –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

October 8, 2020

Time to make those fall color tours happen! The best color around the state remains in the U.P. in the central and western areas, especially around the Porcupine Mountains where peak and past peak color is showing.

For Northern Michigan, there is a huge range. Our Color Map represents what we expect through October 12 as leaves will change a lot between now and then. Recent reports have tons of color over the eastern U.P. with much of Luce, Mackinac and Chippewa counties at peak conditions. A good tour would be along the Lake Superior shoreline to Paradise and back toward St. Ignace.

For the Lower Peninsula, inland locations are at least 50% changed with the highest elevations at near peak to peak conditions. Pictures sent into the Doppler 9&10 Weather Team by Dianne Marie Broeker feature incredible reds, oranges and yellows in the Jordan Valley. The color is really popping along M-115 from Thompsonville all the way down to Clare. I recommend trips along US-131, I-75, Old-27, M-33, M-115 and M-55. There are still areas with green in this region and all that means is an extended period of color this month.

Those toward the lakeshore have some color change, but not much. There are pockets of color, but most of the leaves are green rather than yellow or red. The Tunnel of Trees has a few weeks before peak but color is starting to show now. Lakeside areas are forecast to peak during the last two weeks of October, so you still have time to plan your fall color tour. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

October 1, 2020

Looking for incredible color? The best place to go right now is the U.P. Reports are coming in of beautiful reds, oranges and yellows west of Marquette toward the Porcupine Mountains. Closer to home, there is a wide variation from north to south and east to west. If you’re up for a drive, I highly recommend a trip from Cadillac to Petoskey along US-131. After lunch head over to Gaylord and then south along Old-27. It gets you off the interstate with more color to soak in at a slower pace. After reaching M-55, head west back to Cadillac. Be ready for a lot of color with most areas at 50% to near peak.

A perfect short trip is from Mesick to Farwell. M-115 is beautiful with tons of color. Some trees are past peak and already dropping leaves but the reds and yellows are in great shape.

It’s obvious the higher elevations have the best color and will only get better this weekend. East of I-75, color is limited at about 30-50%. Lakeside areas have the least amount of change with spots like Traverse City, Ludington and the Tunnel of Trees looking at another 2–3 weeks before peak. Regardless of where you want to go, you will see change! With the cool and damp weather around, the colors should really pop. Get out and enjoy the view! –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

September 24, 2020

Fall is here and the leaves are changing! So far, they appear to be around their normal schedule. We’ve already had lots of cloudy skies with chilly temperatures, which helped to get things going. This weekend, the Western and Central U.P. will be around 50%, especially for the Porcupine Mountains. The Eastern U.P. has a bit less change, so 30% is what you can expect. If you’ve been traveling around the Lower Peninsula, the views range from pockets of color to light green. I expect 30% change for most of the Lower Peninsula including areas south of Mount Pleasant.

I recently took a drive along I-75 and US-131 noticing small pockets of strong color with maples really showing a lot of bright yellow and red. Some trees have just a few limbs with vibrant colors and the rest is green. This week’s sunshine and warmth are slowing the change but you’ll notice it jump back into gear when the clouds and cool temperatures return next week. At this point, it looks like much of the Lower Peninsula will peak during the second and third weeks of October. –Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist Tom O’Hare

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2019

Wondering when peak color arrived last year? Take a look.

October 24, 2019

This year’s colors are fading fast in the U.P. and for parts of the Lower Peninsula. This is the time to take a walk through the woods and see the color change deep in the forest. The good news is there is still plenty of nice color around the Lower Peninsula, so get out and enjoy! This second set of color developing should be a bit brighter than the first as the cold is settling in with more clouds. You’ll find the best color along and west of US-131 and M-65, as you get closer to the lakes. Places like the Tunnel of Trees should be very nice this weekend as the gold and red are beginning to pop. I highly recommend going for a drive or a walk this weekend as the coldest air of the season is set to come next week. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Michigan fall color map

October 21, 2019

There is great color all across the region, even in the Upper Peninsula where a lot of trees are past peak. Higher elevations are changing fast with larger areas of past peak over the Lower Peninsula. A big storm is headed in this week and will take down a leaves so watch out for slick, rain-soaked leaves on roads. Lakeshore areas have not peaked yet—that looks to start this weekend. If you find an area of past peak conditions, go for a hike in the forest. The difference will be incredible as most leaves are still changing and a week later than the edges of the trees. This weekend is looking decent right now, so be sure to make plans to see the colors. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 17, 2019

WOW! The leaves have really popped over the last 3–5 days. Best color is over the Lower Peninsula. Reports along M-115, US-131 and I-75 are of huge areas of incredible reds and brilliant oranges. Don’t be surprised when you drive through the highest elevations that the leaves are dropping quickly. That’s when you go for a hike in the woods and see the leaves still changing. Lakeside areas are near peak with peak conditions for some spots. It looks like the best color develops near the water next week. Peak to past peak color is the story for much of the U.P., so get out and enjoy a nice drive this weekend while the quiet weather is here! —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 10, 2019

Looking for peak color? Head to the Western U.P. and Wisconsin where the trees are really popping! If you don’t want to travel that far, you can find areas of nice color in the Central and Eastern U.P. as well as in pockets of the Lower Peninsula. Overall in the Lower Peninsula, the color change is still limited with most of the region at 50% or less, and most lakeside areas at around 30% or lower. Leaf peepers around Cadillac can find pockets of peak color this weekend, especially in central Wexford County. The same can be said for those driving along 131 near Kalkaska and Mancelona. Gaylord and much of Otsego County will be near peak to peak conditions. One key thing to remember is there is a lot of variability over just a few miles. You can go from near peak color to maybe 30% within 10 miles and then to 50%, 5 miles down the road. Don’t be surprised if a lot of the early color gets taken down this weekend due to strong and gusty winds. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

michigan fall color map

October 3, 2019

Colors are really popping in the Western U.P. where near peak conditions are expected later this week. As you head into the Eastern U.P., you can find some nice color but not quite near peak. The same goes for the Lower Peninsula where higher elevations definitely are getting a beautiful change. If traveling around Gaylord, Mancelona or Cadillac there are some large areas of reds, oranges, browns and yellows all showing up. For some sections, the color is mainly on the fringes of the trees but with colder air coming in expect to see a lot of change through the weekend. Lakeshore areas are very slow to change with most still very green. Peak conditions are still a few weeks away in those spots. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Michigan Fall Color Map

September 26, 2019

Colors are beginning to pop in the Western U.P. as cooler air moves in. The Central and Eastern U.P. have a large variation but the average is still around 30%. Lakeside areas for most of the state are on the green side. Those traveling around the Lower Peninsula are still in that 15–30% range. The cool air this weekend will push some areas to about 40%. There is no question the highest elevations have more color with pockets where leaves are already falling. It looks like next weekend we will have some good color across much of the U.P. and higher spots of the Lower Peninsula. Peak color looks to be about 2 weeks away for much of Northern Michigan. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

September 19, 2019

Fall Color Report: The recent sunshine and warmth slowed down the change for much of the region. Higher elevations are forecast at 15–30% through this weekend. Pockets of reds and oranges are certainly around but not a ton. Colors are generally on the dull side right now, but you can find areas of bright color. The problem is that bright color is typically just parts of a tree. As seasonable air returns, you will notice the change speed up, especially in the U.P. I suspect there will be 50% change over in many areas next weekend. —Tom O’Hare, Doppler 9&10 Weather Team

Northern Michigan Fall Color Update 2018

October 25

Peak color has passed for most of the region but the color isn’t all gone. Yellows and oranges are still around in force but just not as abundant or bright. To see the best color head into the forest or toward the lakeshore. Places like Traverse City, Frankfort, Manistee and the Tunnel of Trees are peak to past peak so enjoy while you can. Higher elevations that peaked last week are already becoming bare. Leaves are dropping fast.Michigan fall color map

October 17

Fall Color Report: Our color change across Northern Michigan has expanded this week, making it peak to past peak for most of the region. Vibrant reds, yellows and oranges are taking center stage this week! Lakeside locations like Traverse City, Frankfort and Manistee are in the peak range. Of course, some of our river valleys, such as Grayling and Indian River are a bit behind, but they have reached peak this week. In contrast, a few of the highest elevations around Gaylord and Cadillac are past peak. Don’t be surprised if you see pockets of brown in the higher elevations. You’ll want to spend plenty of time outside these next few days. It’s the perfect time of year to go for a hike, bike ride or capture some photos of the brilliant color.

October 11

Fall Color Report: Color is exploding all across Northern Michigan. The recent weather has really kicked up the pace of change, making it peak for most of the region. We’ve seen trees go from yellow to orange to brown in less than five days. So, this is the weekend for a fall color tour. Even lakeside locations like Traverse City, Frankfort and Ludington are near peak and could reach peak next week. Of course, some of our river valleys, like around Grayling and Indian River are a bit behind and are still near peak. In contrast, a few of the highest elevations around Gaylord and Cadillac may even be past peak by the weekend so don’t be surprised if you see pockets of brown. Go for a hike in the woods and you’ll see a wide range in color from peak at the tops to 50 percent at eye level.Michigan fall color map

October 4

Fall Color Report: What a difference a week makes! Higher elevations are quickly changing with more areas of good color coming out. The U.P. has really exploded with most inland areas west of Marquette near or at peak. The Eastern U.P. is showing good color west of I-75 while many areas to the east are still on the green side. For the Lower Peninsula, higher elevations are looking good with pockets of red and oranges popping. Peak color here will likely be the weekend of the 13/14th. Some pockets could peak as early as this weekend. Spotters tell us there is 75 percent change between Grayling and Gaylord. If you plan on touring along the lakes, color is about a week behind with limited areas of color. Places like Traverse City, Frankfort and Ludington should peak around the 20/21st or even as late as the 27/28th.

Michigan fall color map

September 27

Fall Color Report: The feel of fall is certainly here but the look isn’t. If you’ve been out and about, you’ve seen some pockets of color but nothing major. Most trees have lost their deep green and are showing yellow, and for some, a bit of orange. There isn’t one particular area showing a lot of color right now. Some trees or branches of trees have changed but those are more isolated than anything else. You will see more change next week as temps cool down.  —Tom O’Hare Doppler 9&10 Chief Meteorologist