Maple Valley Off-Grid Farm pictured to the right (more on that visit next week), and no matter which direction I traveled, the fall colors were picture-perfect.Yes, the trees are certainly showing off this year after a mixture of unseasonably warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine (for a dose of leaf science, read this). There are some shades of nearly neon orange I can't recall seeing in foliage before. Amazing!
If you want to catch West Michigan's color at its peak, this weekend could very well be your best chance. The forecast is calling for rain, which may cause the leaves to at last fall. Pack the family in the car and take to the road with one of WMTA's 26 driving tours - you won't be disappointed.
Wexford County (Cadillac): Trees are at their peak, and some are losing their leaves.
Manistee County: Colors are 60-70%, nearing peak. Interestingly, many of the maples haven't really started to turn colors as of yet.
Mason County (Ludington): Color has jumped from 35-40% to 75-80% in just the last week. The ash trees are fabulous this year: a striking plum color with brunt orange undertones. The beach, poplars and birch just are not putting the color out this year; maples and ash are a different story. The tamaracks in the state park are so beautiful right now. The salmon are still running, and the fields are full of bright orange winter squash. Apples, walnuts and chestnuts are all picked.
Clinton/Eaton/Barry/Ingham Counties: We are almost at peak, seeing about 70% of the trees in color. Hickories and sassafras are brilliant yellow. Lots of red maples that are, well, red! Area around Gun Lake in Barry County is especially brilliant.
Northern Calhoun County: If you came to CraneFest you would have seen thousands of sandhill cranes with a backdrop of about 50-75% color. The farm fields in the area are a nice accent to the yellows and reds seen on hickories, maples and sassafras.
Western VanBuren: In only a week the colors have burst. There's a blaze of orange, and red is the dominate color.
St. Joseph County (Sturgis): Color is about 75%, and this week will probably be peak color. Hickories are now yellow, maples are 50 -100 % with their oranges, reds and yellow. Oaks are turning and falling. With the 80 degree temperatures and bright sun, the color is magnificent!
Thank you once again to the Michigan Audubon Society and their web of faithful leaf peepers. We couldn't do it without you! This report is also available on WMTA.org and by calling the West Michigan Tourist Association Fall Color Hotline at 800-442-2084 x. 304.