Fall Foliage in UP Michigan September 2023: Some Color

Fall Foliage in UP Michigan September 2023:
The trees are turning, but give it another two weeks

The primary fall foliage question about trees turning color in the UP of Michigan: Are the trees turning colors yet in the UP? 

The answer as of Sept. 3, 2023: Kind of, but I would not pack up the family and drive up here to see them, yet.

This is my first fall foliage report about trees turning color in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The trees are turning colors but the majority of them are still quite green. Red maples seem to be quite red, but sugar maples and oaks, most, like I said, are still green and will be for another week or two.

That said, if this is your first visit to my website, donaldjclaxton.com, let me, as The Timberlander, tell you why the UP of Michigan should be your top destination for fall foliage in September 2023.

Here’s a link to the national fall foliage map for 2023:

Upper Peninsula in Fall: A Must-Visit Destination

If you have never heard about the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, you’re missing out on one of the most beautiful and unique destinations in the United States. The Upper Peninsula, or “UP” as locals call it, is a narrow strip of land between Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

It’s home to some of the most pristine wilderness areas, stunning waterfalls, and secluded beaches in the country. The UP is divided into two main regions – the Eastern UP and Western UP.

The Eastern UP is known for its rugged shoreline along Lake Superior, while the Western UP boasts vast forests and rolling hills. Both regions offer unparalleled beauty throughout the year, but fall is undoubtedly the best time to visit.

Why Fall is The Best Time to Visit

Fall in the Upper Peninsula is simply magical. As summer slowly fades away, nature puts on a spectacular show for visitors. The trees explode with vibrant colors of reds, oranges, yellows, and browns creating a breathtaking sight that will leave you speechless.

But it’s not just about fall foliage – there are plenty of other reasons why you should visit during this season.

For starters, fewer crowds mean more opportunities to enjoy quiet hikes and scenic drives without being interrupted by throngs of tourists.

Additionally, temperatures are cooler but still mild enough for outdoor activities such as hiking or camping without suffering from the scorching heat or pesky insects that populate this area during the summer months.

Perhaps most importantly, fall offers visitors an opportunity to experience local traditions such as apple-picking festivals or Oktoberfest celebrations with fewer lines or crowds than during peak seasons.

If you haven’t visited the Upper Peninsula during fall yet – what are you waiting for? With so much natural beauty around every corner, you’ll be glad you made the trip.

Fall foliage begins in the UP as temperatures begin to cool off.

Fall foliage begins in the UP as temperatures begin to cool off.

The Colors of Fall

The Changing Leaves and Vibrant Colors

There’s just something magical about the fall season. The crisp air, cozy sweaters, and warm drinks all contribute to the charm of autumn. But without a doubt, the most spectacular aspect of fall is the changing leaves.

This Labor Day Weekend, however, the weather has gone mad. It’s supposed to be 90° F on Monday!

The Upper Peninsula is blessed with an abundance of deciduous trees that put on a show-stopping display each year. From deep reds to bright yellows, the colors of fall are truly mesmerizing.

It’s as if nature is painting a masterpiece right before our eyes. Even if you’re not particularly outdoorsy, it’s worth taking a drive or stroll through one of the many parks or scenic routes in the area just to witness this natural wonder.

Fall foliage begins in the UP.

Fall foliage begins in the UP. As you can see, trees are turning colors, but not like they will be in two or three weeks. This Labor Day Weekend the temps are in the high 80s! But later in the week, they begin to drop once again….

Best Places to See Fall Foliage

Of course, some places are better than others when it comes to seeing fall foliage in all its glory. One such place is Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

Not only does this park offer stunning views of two waterfalls, but it’s also home to miles and miles of hiking trails that wind through forests bursting with autumn colors.

Another must-see location for fall foliage is Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

This park boasts more than 90 miles of hiking trails that showcase breathtaking views of Lake Superior and its surrounding forests during peak fall colors. For those who prefer a more leisurely experience, taking a drive along M-28 from Munising toward Marquette offers picturesque views at every turn.

Tips for Capturing the Perfect Photo

Whether you’re an amateur photographer or just want to snap some photos for your Instagram feed, there are some tips and tricks to help you capture the perfect shot during peak leaf-peeping season.

First, timing is key.

While it may be tempting to head out on an overcast day when the colors appear more saturated, the best time to shoot fall foliage is on a sunny day around mid-morning or mid-afternoon. This is when the sun’s rays will illuminate the leaves and bring out their true colors.

Second, using a polarizing filter can help reduce glare and boost color saturation, resulting in more vibrant photos.

Don’t be afraid to get up close and personal with your subject. Use a macro lens or get as close as possible to capture all the intricate details of each individual leaf.

But be cautious, this advice does not apply to black bears, moose, wolves, or coyotes.

The Upper Peninsula in fall is truly a sight to behold. From the changing leaves and vibrant colors to the best places to see them and tips for capturing the perfect photo, this region is an autumnal paradise that shouldn’t be missed.

Outdoor Activities: Embrace the Beauty

When it comes to outdoor activities in the Upper Peninsula during fall, there is no shortage of options.

The cool, crisp air is perfect for hiking and taking in the breathtaking scenery of colorful leaves.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of trails that will suit any level of expertise.

A visit to Tahquamenon Falls State Park gives you and your gang the chance to hike along the riverbank trail or venture out on a more challenging path through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

But hiking isn’t the only way to experience fall in the UP.

This time of year also marks hunting season, which draws hunters from all over to partake in this tradition.

There’s nothing quite like spending a day out in the woods with friends or family, waiting for that perfect shot to bag that big buck.

Bear Season also opens in mid-September.

If hunting isn’t your thing, fishing is another popular activity during fall in UP.

Cast your line into one of many lakes or rivers and try your luck at catching trout, walleye, salmon, or steelhead as they make their way upstream for spawning season.

Hiking Trails: Explore Every Corner

The Upper Peninsula’s scenic routes offer some of the most picturesque views in all of Michigan during the fall season.

With centuries-old trees lining almost every road, it’s no wonder why people come from all over just to take a drive through this area during autumn months.

But it’s not just about driving – there are plenty of hiking trails that allow you to explore every corner of this beautiful region.

One of the most popular hiking trails in the UP is The North County Trail, stretching 460 miles from Ohio to North Dakota. Hike along its length and experience a diverse range of landscapes from sand dunes to dense forests.

Another great hiking destination is the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park with its rugged terrain and awe-inspiring vistas.

Hike up to Summit Peak, which offers a panoramic view of Lake Superior and all its surrounding beauty.

Munising Falls in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore provides an easy hike with stunning views that showcase some of the most colorful fall foliage in Michigan. With trails that lead you through a forested landscape to waterfalls and streams, it’s a must-visit spot for any hiker.

Hunting & Fishing Opportunities: Take A Chance

One of the main draws for people visiting UP during the fall season is hunting or fishing on one of many lakes or rivers. From grouse hunting in national forests to walleye fishing in one of many creeks or rivers, there’s plenty for outdoors enthusiasts to enjoy.

For hunters looking for an exciting challenge, UP has some excellent opportunities; black bear hunting season starts on September 10th and runs through October 26th. Whitetail deer season runs from Nov 15th – Nov 30th where hunters can take pride in bagging their own venison meat for winter meals.

Fishing enthusiasts won’t have any problems finding places full of fish like salmon or steelhead during their run upriver for spawning season late August till early October. Anglers can also cast lines into Lake Superior which offers some big catches such as lake trout or even cobia – not commonly found up north!

Kayaking & Canoeing: Calm & Exciting

If you’re looking for something more active than just sitting on a boat fishing, consider kayaking or canoeing down one of many rivers in the UP. While it may seem intimidating, it’s a great opportunity to experience the beauty of Michigan in a unique way during fall.

For something more exciting, try the Sturgeon River, which offers challenging rapids and scenic beauty. It’s not for everyone but those who crave excitement and adventure will find this waterway perfect for their needs.

Paddle down the Manistique River that weaves through dense forests and canyons with rapids providing excellent opportunities for kayaking.

Local Cuisine

Famous pasties (meat pies)

No trip to the Upper Peninsula is complete without trying one of their famous pasties, pronounced “pass-tees.” These savory meat pies are a staple in the region and can be found in almost every restaurant and bakery.

The best place I know to get these is at the Crossroads on Highway 553 between Marquette and the old KI Sawyer Air Force Base near Gwinn.

The traditional filling includes beef, potatoes, onions, and rutabaga, but you can also find variations with chicken or vegetables. They are the perfect comfort food for the chilly fall weather and will leave you feeling warm and satisfied.

Freshly caught fish from Lake Superior

The waters of Lake Superior are home to some of the freshest and most delicious fish you’ll ever taste. Trout, whitefish, and salmon are just a few of the species that can be caught in these pristine waters.

Many restaurants in the area serve these fresh catches, cooked to perfection with seasonings that perfectly complement their natural flavors. If you’re a seafood lover or just looking for something unique to try during your visit, be sure to indulge in some fresh fish from Lake Superior.

Craft beer breweries

Craft beer has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and the Upper Peninsula is no exception. There are several breweries throughout the region that offer unique brews that reflect both local tastes and traditions as well as international influences.

From dark stouts to hoppy IPAs, there’s something for every beer lover here. And what better way to enjoy a cold one than surrounded by nature’s autumn beauty?

Hidden Gems

Off-the-beaten-path attractions such as abandoned mines or ghost towns

The Upper Peninsula may not be as well-known as some other travel destinations, but it’s full of hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. Abandoned mines provide an eerie glimpse into Michigan’s mining history while ghost towns give visitors an opportunity to experience the past.

These off-the-beaten-path attractions are perfect for history buffs and adventurers alike.

Secret waterfalls or hidden beaches that are only accessible by hiking

For nature lovers, the Upper Peninsula is a dream come true. Hidden waterfalls and secluded beaches provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But be prepared to work for it!

These hidden gems are often only accessible by hiking through dense forests or along rocky trails.

But the effort is well worth it when you finally reach your destination and are rewarded with stunning scenery and complete solitude.

Quaint small towns with unique shops and restaurants

The small towns scattered throughout the Upper Peninsula offer visitors a glimpse into local life and culture. Each town has its own unique charm, with quaint shops, cozy cafes, and friendly locals eager to share their stories. Whether you’re looking for antiques, handmade crafts, or locally sourced food, you’re sure to find something to love in these hidden gems.

Fall Foliage Report Conclusion: Make a plan for another 2-3 weeks out

Fall in the Upper Peninsula is truly a magical experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime. With its stunning fall foliage, outdoor activities galore, delicious local cuisine, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered around every corner — there’s something for everyone here!

So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip soon before it’s too late!

You won’t regret it — trust me on this one.

This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.


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Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In the UP, I craft, make, grow, run, carve, and generate:

  • Custom crosses
  • Timber frame shelters
  • A garden
  • My water
  • Basswood figurines and ornaments
  • My own power

Check out my crafts for sale in The Timberlander’s Treasures.

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