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Michigan Lakeshore Colors

Your Guide to Fall Colors on the West Michigan Lakeshore

by Nate on October 5, 2020

For many residents of West Michigan, fall is their favorite season. Looking around this beautiful place we call home, it’s easy to see why! Let’s talk about the fall color season along the West Michigan lakeshore, and some of the best ways to get out and enjoy it. 

When is Peak Color on the West Michigan Lakeshore?

The West Michigan lakeshore is unique because the warmer water delays the color changes for a few miles inland of Lake Michigan. While most of the Lower Peninsula will reach peak color between the 7th and 14th of October, the lakeshore won’t peak until the 14th to the 21st. Also, because many communities and lakeshore towns share this phenomenon, the trees around them change at nearly the same time. This means that all along the lakeshore, from South Haven to Traverse City, there is a brilliant color display, making it an ideal time to take a West Michigan color tour up the shore to celebrate the natural beauty of our state.

How to Enjoy West Michigan Fall Colors

West Michigan is full of outdoor recreation opportunities to get out and soak in all the fall colors and sunshine before the snow comes. Whether you’re an avid hiker or kayaker, or more comfortable in a car, there’s a perfect West Michigan color tour activity that’s just your speed.

Paddling the West Michigan Lakeshore

Fall is a great time to take the kayaks and paddleboards out along the lake before the cold sets in later in the season. This time of year water is still relatively warm compared to the crisp air, which makes it a pleasant temperature to exercise. Also, the bugs are usually gone by now, so you can get a great view of the fall colors along Lake Michigan undisturbed. If the lake looks too choppy for a peaceful paddle, try a calmer inland spot like Paw Paw River or Kalamazoo Lake in Saugatuck.

Hiking the West Michigan Lakeshore

Michigan’s hiking trails along the lakeshore are a great way to get out and see the colors change up close. This time of year, beaches and trails are generally less busy, as the summer crowds retreat back home. You can enjoy some peace and quiet as you hike, just listening to the sound of the leaves under your hiking shoes. The Ottawa Dunes north of Grand Haven combines the best of everything we love about fall on the West Michigan lakeshore, sandy trails, cool air, and of course the bright trees lining Lake Michigan. 

Driving the West Michigan Lakeshore

The best way to cover a lot of ground and see as many of the fall colors as possible, is to take a drive along the lakeshore and watch the show from your vehicle. On your way, you can stop for scenic views, food, or other activities. Plan your West Michigan color tour ahead of time so you can get in all the views you can while the colors are here, because they never seem to stick around long enough.

Planning a West Michigan Color Tour

Taking the best West Michigan color tour requires a little bit of planning to make sure you can see as much of the beautiful lakeshore as possible and enjoy the journey along the way. When planning your West Michigan color tour, you’ll need to figure out several details ahead of time, such as your starting point, the length of your tour, and any stops you want to make as you go. 

Pick Your Color Tour Starting Point

You can plan your West Michigan color tour around many destinations, but choosing the right starting point is just as important. You may want to start at a southerly place and work your way up, or take the interstate to get to a northern spot and work your way home, or even plan a loop through Central Michigan to explore some more rural backroads. Your starting point will depend on what’s most convenient for you, and also how long you want your tour to be.

Decide the Length of Your West Michigan Color Tour

How far are you willing to travel? Are you taking a day trip to the lakeshore, or planning a multi-day tour from Southwest to Northern Michigan? Plan your West Michigan color tour in legs if you’ve got plenty of time, or choose a route for efficiency to see the most of the lakeshore in a single day. Plan plenty of breaks so you don’t get tired of driving. Also, make sure you have enough light when driving in the morning and evening as fall days in West Michigan are beginning to shorten.

Plan Any Stops During Your Tour

When choosing potential stopping points along your tour, search for scenic turnouts and short trails to explore along the West Michigan lakeshore. You should also visit a small lakeshore town or two along the way, for food, bathroom breaks, and a chance to stretch your legs. The West Michigan lakeshore is home to some of the best lakeshore breweries and restaurants — and you’re likely to find one with a view of the lake or fall foliage.

Finally, as a final point to your route, don’t forget to plan a place to watch the sunset. The golds, oranges and reds reflected in Lake Michigan make the fall colors appear their most vibrant and provide the perfect grand finale to a West Michigan color tour.

There’s more to a Michigan vacation than summer on the lakeshore! In a West Michigan home, you can enjoy what Michigan has to offer year-round. Whether you’re looking for a vacation home or want to move to a vibrant lakeshore community, BlueWest Properties can help. To learn more about West Michigan and available properties in your desired area, give us a call or reach out to us online.

NateYour Guide to Fall Colors on the West Michigan Lakeshore