fbpx

Fall Color Tours in St. Ignace, Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Discover the beautiful autumn hues visible from St. Ignace, Michigan on three extraordinary routes categorized by color: the Violet Tour, the Gold Tour, and the Crimson tour. You can also explore bonus tours that include a short loop around a Lake, a longer trip to Drummond Island, and a great way to explore autumn by train further north!

 

Violet Tour

The Route (115 Miles West)

Start in St. Ignace heading east on US2 (Lake Michigan Scenic Highway Driving), then north on 117 near Engadine, and then head east on M28 near Newberry. To loop back, go south on M123 back to St. Ignace when you get close to Eckerman.

The Color

Violet and red autumn leaves get their color from the same chemical, anthocyanin, that gives color to cranberries, strawberries, and plums. The brighter the light in summer, the more anthocyanins are produced in leaves, and the more vibrant the colors are! Dogwood, sugar maple, red oak, white oak, red osier, and red ash are common northern Michigan trees that produce burgundy colors.

What You’ll See

At the start of the drive, US2 offers views of beautiful Lake Michigan and sandy dune beaches on one side, and visions of deep mulberry and wine-dark fall foliage on the other. The route will also take you over Cut River Bridge, a magnificent cantilevered steel deck bridge that stretches over the Cut River Valley 147 feet below. Trees with autumn hues line the rest of the route that passes over numerous rivers and skirts by the Hiawatha National Forest.

Where to Stop

Near the start in St. Ignace, the Mystery Spot, Garlyn Zoo Wildlife Park, and Deer Ranch are fantastic for family adventures, and the Cut River Bridge Roadside Park has beautiful trails through rolling, forested dunes next to a Lake Michigan beach. In Naubinway, try stopping at the Top of the Lake Antique Snowmobile Museum, and in Newberry go for the Tahquamenon Logging Museum or Newberry Country Club.

 

Gold Tour

The Route (115 miles Northwest)

Start north on I-75 towards Allenville, head NW on M123 towards Seewhy, west on M28 towards Roberts Corner, and then north on M123 to Paradise. Start your loops back by heading south to I-75 to St. Ignace.

The Color

Yellow-orange carotenoids are what give color to carrots, bananas, and even canaries. In the autumn, the total supply of chlorophylls begins to diminish and the carotenoids that were already present in leaves begin to appear. Common northern Michigan trees with golden leaves are bur oak, sugar maple, bigtooth aspen, white ash, golden birch, white birch, and cottonwood.

What You’ll See

Trees exhibiting golden colors line either side of the road for nearly the whole drive. Near Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the trees get closer and closer, starting to almost drape the road in a harmony of autumn hues.

The route will also pass over an extremely narrow road with Lake Superior on one side and the beginnings of Tahquamenon River on the other!

Where to Stop

You’ll pass right by the famous Castle Rock when heading out from St. Ignace, and The Toonerville Trolley Train and Oswald's Bear Ranch are worth checking out as well. Of course, you’ll be passing by the stunning Tahquamenon Falls and its State Park, which are must-stop locations anytime of the year.

 

Crimson Tour

The Route (120 miles Northeast)

Start by going north on I-75 to east on M134 towards Cedarville. Continue north on 129 to Sault Ste. Marie, and then loop back by heading south on I-75 to St. Ignace.

The Color

Many of the same trees that display violet colors also exhibit crimson, as the hue comes from the same anthocyanins that give cherries, red apples, and plums their color. Red oak, white oak, red maple, red osier, and red ash all fairly consistently show crimson colors in northern Michigan, although some will display deeper reds and purple depending on weather and sunlight.

What You’ll See

A large portion of the route features striking autumn colors on your left with sublime views of Saint Martin Bay in Lake Huron on your right, followed by the beginning on the Les Cheneaux Islands. Passed Cedarville, fall trees are interspersed with family farms and on the way back from Sault Ste. Marie, the trees become thicker and filled with vibrant colors.

Where to Stop

At the start of this route, you’ll again pass Castle Rock, but you’ll also pass Kewadin Shore Casino just north of St. Ignace. Further on, Les Cheneaux Islands, of which Marquette Island, lined with Edwardian boathouses and cottages, is the biggest. Be sure to check out Woods & Waters tours that take guests kayaking, biking, and even caving, along with Elmers Coins and Collectables. In Sault Ste. Marie, the Soo Locks and Point Iroquois Light Station are the top attractions!

 

Bonus Route: Short Lake Loop

The Route (28 miles Northwest to Southeast)

Start by heading north on I-75 towards Allenville, then head west on Brevort Lake Road and follow it south towards Lake Michigan. To loop back, go southeast on US-2 towards St. Ignace.

What You’ll See

Trees with various fall colors densely are packed near the road for much of the route, and the drive passes by the calm waters of Brevort Lake. On the way back, the road is especially hemmed in by autumn foliage until you begin to see the shores of Lake Michigan.

Where to Stop

Explore Brevort Lake, Round Lake, and Castle Rock!

 

Bonus Route: St. Ignace to Drummond Island

The Route (130 Miles East)

If you’re feeling especially adventures, head north on I-75 to M-134 and taking M-134 all the way out to DeTour/Drummond Island. You can hop on a ferry to reach Drummond Island

What You’ll See

Similar to Crimson Tour, you’ll pass by Saint Martin Bay. The route takes you further on M-134, as it eventually becomes Scenic Road, so you’ll have extended views of Lake Huron and the Les Cheneaux Islands with autumn leaves on the left! The ferry offers splendid views of the shores of Drummond Island, which is packed with trees emblazoned with intense autumn hues.

Where to Stop

On the way, there’s Detour Peninsula Nature Preserve, and on Drummond Island, there’s ATV and ORV trails, hiking, kayaking, birdwatching, hunting, fishing as well as the Drummond Island Historical Museum.

 

Bonus Route: Canadian Train Tour

The Agawa Canyon Tour Train is a one-day rail adventure into the heart of the Canadian wilderness. In the autumn, Algoma Country is ablaze with color and the Canyon Tour is a favorite way for ‘leaf peepers’ to experience some remarkable fall color. Take the Crimson Tour to reach the Sault Ste. Marie!

The area surrounding St. Ignace is full of fall colors, so be sure to explore all the opportunities for adventure! Sign-up for St. Ignace’s newsletter for the latest details on all the events! Feel free to request a visitor guide, and book your stay today!

 

Comments are closed.