Take the Family on a Fall Color Tour + Scenic Foliage Spots in Southwest Michigan

Fall color tour around Kalamazoo Families

Admire the Brilliant Fall Color + Leaves are Turning a Little Early this Season

Autumn is falling forward a bit this year, and experts are predicting Southwest Michigan is going to peak a little earlier than anticipated, if only by a week. Expect to start seeing those beautiful colors soon, with the most amazing shows in mid-October.

You have many choices in greater Kalamazoo to see these beautiful colors that signal the changing season. On foot, in the car while having a singalong, or even on a locomotive through the forest.

To make sure you don’t miss the best places, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorites.

Tuck a book in your bag for preserving the kids colorful finds and get ready to enjoy everything that Mother Nature has to offer.

Know of any other spots for prime fall foliage viewing? Make sure to let us know in the comments section.

Fall Color

Let the Autumn Air and Colors Whir Past You

The historic West Michigan Pike (U.S. 31) features some of the best scenery West Michigan has to offer. It runs the length of Michigan’s west side, traveling through beach towns, dunes, and state parks. Go as far as you want along the route, and then head back at your leisure. All you need to do is head west from Kalamazoo to get there.

The state of Michigan designates area roads as “Natural Beauty Roads”. Make sure to tour these Kalamazoo county roads for a scenic color tour drive.

  • West R Avenue from VanKal to 6th Street
  • West F Avenue from 7th Street to 8th Street
  • BC Avenue from East Gull-Way Street to 34th Street

On Sunday, October 13 make your way to Three Rivers for an annual tradition, the Fall Color Tour. The family can enjoy a scenic, fun-filled drive and enjoy a variety of destinations and activities along the way.

Take the Kids on a Leaf Exploring Stroll or Bike Ride

Fall color tour families kalamazoo

Park your car in the large Kal-Haven Trail parking lot, and then climb into the refurbished caboose car for information on this old railroad. This trail is perfect for hiking, or biking, under swaths of beautiful fall colors.

With 22 miles of paved-asphalt trail, there are plenty of options to see fall color on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. One stretch begins at 10th Street, heading east from the Kal-Haven Caboose and stretches to Westnedge. The other heads through River Oaks and Markin Glen County Parks and by the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

On the corner of Drake and Parkview, Asylum Lake Preserve is owned by Western Michigan University for research and recreation. There are two lakes on the preserve, surrounded by forests, perfect for fall colors.

The habitats at the Al Sabo Land Preserve are a diverse mix of woods, wetlands, and open meadows. Bicycles are allowed only on the trails marked for bicycles, and no bicycles are allowed north of the land bridge. Follow one of the many marked trails through the hardwood forest, or bring a compass, map, and explore.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center offers a number of excellent trails for viewing fall foliage. The Trails are marked by length and level of difficulty. Try the Cooper’s Overlook Trail and hike along a ridge with large trees, overlooking Trout Run Stream where the colors are especially picture-worthy.

We love the West Lake Nature Preserve for its beautiful mulched hiking trails through the forest. The boardwalk over the bog offers a stunning view of the autumn colors, and after hiking the two miles of trails, there’s a playground and restroom for the kids.

Hidden Gem

A prime spot for sweeping views of fall color is Markin Glen County Park. From the top of one of the highest points in Kalamazoo, you can experience a scenic view of downtown and the splendid fall season.

Head to Plainwell and walk along the Kalamazoo River from Hicks Park to Sherwood Park. The walk is full of warm autumn colors, and it’s perfect for kids to collect leaves to take home.

Chug Through Crimson and Golden Yellows

View the fall colors from a train on the Coopersville & Marne Railway on their special Pumpkin Train Ride. The ride features costumed characters, and the ability to pick a pumpkin at the end. The round trip ride lasts about 90 minutes, traveling through the countryside and wooded areas offering a nice burst of fall color.

Little River Railroad offers pumpkin train rides on Sundays in October. Enjoy the scenic fall colors on a 90-minute round trip from Coldwater to Quincy with an opportunity to pick a pumpkin.  Families need to purchase tickets in advance.

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