Fall Colors

Fall Color: page banner

 

 

When to See the Color

This section covers what type of color you will see, when. Along with suggestions on where you might find color throughout the fall color viewing season. 

 

October - Week 4


Winter is quickly trying to overtake Fall here in the Southern portion of the Ottawa National Forest where a majority of the leaves have fallen, but now the tamarack/Eastern Larch are shining brilliant shades of gold. More color can still be seen in the north sections of the Ottawa, particularly in the McCormick Wilderness and along M-28 near Presque Isle River. Now is the time to take a drive or stroll to view the last few trees holding onto their colors for as long as possible‚Äč.

Photo of the Week

Are available on Flickr. You do not need an account to view photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October - Week 3


Colors are starting to show themselves across the south zone of the forest. The Iron River-Watersmeet District seems to be seeing the most change so far with some over on the Bessemer district as well. Two photos from our Soil Scientist Lily Palmer show the colors on the Iron River-Watersmeet District, and a photo from our Botanist Sue Trull shows colors on Presque Isle near Forest Road 180, near the Michigan/Wisconsin border.

Places to See Now:

  • Presque Isle
  • US 2, Watersmeet to Iron River

Photos of the Week

Click on the image to view it in Flickr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October - Week 2


The colors on the Ottawa National Forest are continuing to move toward peak. A larger amount of trees showing color in the south of the forest and slowly moving north.

Places to See Now:

  • US-2 between Iron River, MI and Ironwood, MI.
  • Northbound US-45 from Watersmeet, MI toward Bruce Crossing, MI.

September - 19th to 26th


Colors are starting to show themselves across the south zone of the forest. The Iron River-Watersmeet District seems to be seeing the most change so far with some over on the Bessemer district as well. Two photos from our Soil Scientist Lily Palmer show the colors on the Iron River-Watersmeet District, and a photo from our Botanist Sue Trull shows colors on Presque Isle near Forest Road 180, near the Michigan/Wisconsin border.

Places to See Now:

  • Presque Isle
  • US 2, Watersmeet to Iron River

Photos of the Week

Click on the image to view it in Flickr.

Fall Color: Iron River District

Fall Color: Iron River District 2

Fall Color: Presque Isle, near FR 180

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Each year as nights begin to get longer, the trees begin to change from the vibrant green of summer to the warm tones of gold, orange and red. As temperatures cool, trees produce less chlorophyll. Chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color in spring and summer, makes glucose, a sugar, from sunlight, which feeds the trees. As chlorophyll production stops we begin to see the yellow, red, purple and orange pigments, or the leafs "true" color. After a while the tree leaves fall as the tree closes off the veins that carry water and nutrients to and from the leaves and the leaves weaken and fall. 

The leaves that fall begin to break down on the ground, providing nutrients into the soil for other trees and plants. The tree itself becomes dormant, or sleeps, during the winter until temperatures warm enough for it to create new leaves in the spring. 

 

Certain colors are characteristic of particular species:

  • Oaks: red, brown, or russet
  • Hickories: golden bronze
  • Aspen and yellow-poplar: golden yellow
  • Dogwood: purplish red
  • Beech: light tan
  • Sourwood and black tupelo: crimson

The color of maples leaves differ species by species:

  • Red maple: brilliant scarlet
  • Sugar maple: orange-red
  • Black maple: glowing yellow
  • Striped maple: almost colorless

 

 

 

What to Look For

(please note that these graphics are not linked to anything).

Fall Color: maple leaves

Trees

Trees to look for:

  • Sugar maple (pictured)
  • Red maple
  • Northern red oak
  • Quaking aspen
  • Big-tooth aspen
  • Black cherry
  • Beech
Fall Color: Aster

Wildflowers

Wildflowers to look for:

  • Asters (pictured)
  • Golden Rods
  • False Boneset
  • Blazing Star
  • Three-lobed Coneflower
  • Black-eyed Susan
Fall Color: red grass

Ferns and Grasses

Grasses to look for:

  • Sedges
  • Rye
  • Bulrush
  • Wool Grass

Ferns to look for:

  • Bracken Fern
  • Cinnamon Fern
  • Wood Fern
  • Sensitive Fern
Fall Color: Witch Hazel

Shurbs

Shrubs to look for:

  • Witch Hazel (pictured)
  • Viburnum
  • Chokeberry
  • Cinquefoil
  • Winterberry
  • Forsythia
  • Elderberry
  • Juniper
  • Hawthorn

Find more flowers, shrubs, ferns and grasses for Michigan in the USDA Plants Database. Select Michigan (second column, fourth from the bottom in the list of states). Please note, not all plants have a common name listed.





https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/ottawa/recreation/?cid=fseprd649789