Fall Color in Southwest Michigan

Whether you see it from a scenic roadway, a gorgeous hiking trail, or aboard a locomotive, the vibrant fall leaves of Michigan signal the sign of changing seasons. Living in Southwest Michigan, we are treated to quite a show every year when the leaves change. The color change is dependent on a lot of factors and happens at a slightly different time every year.

Weather.com predicts most of Lower Michigan to peak in mid-October this year.

Every year, families head out to local parks or hit the road to experience autumn in all its glory.

Fall Color

By Car

The historic West Michigan Pike features some of the best scenery West Michigan has to offer. You can head West on M-43 until you reach the Blue Star Highway then head South. Continue South on 63 until you reach I94 in Benton Harbor, then head East to Kalamazoo. Traveling along the lake on this historic highway will be a beautiful and rewarding experience. This entire trip will take about 2 and a half hours roundtrip.

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

Fall Color Tour | Three Rivers

On Sunday, October 14 make your way to Three Rivers for an annual tradition. The family can enjoy a scenic, fun-filled drive and enjoy a variety of destinations and activities along the way.

On Foot or Bike

Kal-Haven Trail  | 4143 10th St N,  Kalamazoo

Begin your adventure at the 10th Street trailhead and head West along the trail. The trailhead features a large parking lot, and a refurbished caboose car serves as the information center for the trail. The kids will delight in climbing onto the caboose and then walking along the Kal-Haven trail which once was a railroad! Trails are great for hiking and biking to enjoy the fall color.

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail  | 2900 Lake Street, Kalamazoo

With 22 miles of paved-asphalt trail, there are plenty of options to see fall color. The KRV Trail is free to use and can be enjoyed as a family hike or bike ride.

Asylum Lake Preserve  | 3836 S. Drake Road, Kalamazoo

The lake and adjoining property lie in the West Fork of the Portage Creek Watershed.

Al Sabo Land Preserve  | 6310 Texas Drive, Kalamazoo

The habitats here are a diverse mix of woods, wetlands, and open meadows. Bicycles are allowed only on the trails marked for bicycles. No bicycles are allowed north of the land bridge. The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset.

Kalamazoo Nature Center | 7000 N. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo

KNC 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 you can enjoy colorful foliage in the fall.

West Lake Nature Preserve | South Westnedge Ave. at South Shore Drive, Portage

West Lake Nature Preserve offers two miles of hiking trails. The trails feature a winding bark trail that meanders through a shaded lowland forest and ends with a boardwalk promenade leading across a bog with views of West Lake.

Hidden Gem

Markin Glen County Park  | 5300 North Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo

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.

By Train

Coopersville & Marne Railway   | 311 E. Danforth St., Coopersville, MI

If you need a little bit more excitement from your color tour, a great way to go is by train!

The Coopersville & Marne Railway offers the unique opportunity to view the fall colors from their train with their Pumpkin Train Ride. The ride features costumed characters for entertainment. Kids can pick a small pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch at the end of the ride. The round trip ride lasts about 90 minutes, traveling through the countryside and some wooded areas offering a nice burst of fall color.

Little River Railroad  | 29 W. Park Ave., Coldwater, MI

Little River Railroad offers pumpkin train rides on Sunday’s in October. Enjoy the scenic fall colors on a 90-minute roundtrip from Coldwater to Quincy. Opportunity to pick a pumpkin.  Purchase tickets in advance.

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