Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour

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Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Tomorrow is the official first day of fall. We all know fall in Northern Michigan is the bee’s knees. The colors draw visitors in from all over. Sadly, the season can be short. It seems like the day after the colors peak I’m already shoveling my driveway. Therefore, there is little time to waste looking for the best places to take your fall color tour. Below are some of my favorites (click the links for directions):

Myles Kimmerly Park

This Maple City park is best known for its disc golf course. However, a little known secret is that disc golf courses make some of the best running or hiking trails. This area boasts 143 acres, most of which navigates through extremely dense woods.


The Whaleback Natural Area is located south of Leland. The views of Lake Michigan are similar to the ones at Clay Cliffs (mentioned below), but this separate hike is totally worth it. This area is about one mile of trails, but the top loop travels through the woods where you can peak Lake Michigan through the trees the entire time.

Clay Cliffs

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Clay Cliffs is located just North of Leland. It is about a 1.5 mile loop through the woods, with an extraordinary viewing area of Lake Michigan at the top. There is a steep hill, however, there is a separate loop at the bottom that is good for all hiking levels.

Alligator Hill

Alligator Hill is one of my favorite places to get some mileage on the trails. Located just outside of Glen Arbor, it has about 9 miles of various loops. All the trails are deep in the woods with spectacular colors. There is a Glen Lake lookout and a Lake Michigan lookout, both of which showcase miles of shoreline and some delightful fall foliage.

Empire Bluffs

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

The Empire Bluffs are going to stun you. If they don’t, you need to get your eyes checked. Rolling hills through the woods lead to the most incredible overlook. To the overlook and back is only 1.5 miles, leaving plenty of time for all the photos you’re going to want to take.

Pyramid Point

Most people are familiar with the insane view at the top of Pyramid Point, but what is often forgotten about is the scenic trail leading to the top. Not only is the main trail completely surrounded with stunning trees, but take the side trail to the “back bowl” and climb to the top. The transitioning trees will be like nothing you have ever seen before.

Cathead Bay

Planning a Leelanau County Fall Color Tour - Run Leelanau

Cathead Bay is North of Northport and like many of the other areas listed above, it is a beautiful trail system that leads to Lake Michigan. (Do all trails in Leelanau County lead to Lake Michigan? It’s likely.) And if you didn’t already know, Lake Michigan shows some pretty stunning colors with the changing season as well.

These are just a few of my favorite Leelanau County Trails to catch the fall colors. What are your must-see areas for fall foliage?



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