Fall colors peeking now


Brightly colored leaves have begun to let go of the trees, dancing around on the gentle fall breeze. On a drive around Carlton County, the eye is drawn to maples that look like upside down paint brushes dipped in bright crimson red, contrasting against the blue sky as Mother Nature begins to change from summer to her fall color palette.

Bright spots here and there peer out from the sea of deep green of pine trees along the road to Jay Cooke Park, punctuated by an occasional yellow tree.

Colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third (which includes the Twin Cities), according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It hasn’t peaked here yet, but it’s coming soon.

Peak fall color typically lasts about two weeks, but that can vary widely, depending on location, elevation and weather. Trees at higher elevations are the earliest to show color change.

Those looking for a scenic drive to take during peak fall color should consider visiting a state forest over the next few weeks.

“State forests are an excellent place to see fall color,” said Jennifer Teegarden, forestry outreach specialist for the DNR. “Hilly or rugged areas dominated by deciduous trees tend to have the best mix of color. And the dark green needles of conifers accent the yellow, orange and red leaves of deciduous trees in mixed forests.”

Remember that a vehicle permit is required for entrance to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Visit the Minnesota state parks and trails Fall Color Finder at www.mndnr.gov/fall_colors to find areas with peak fall color. This online trip-planning tool includes a map showing where to find peak color across the state, a link to fall color programs and special events, a slideshow and a photo uploader that provides an easy way for people to share their favorite fall color images.

The Fall Color Finder will be updated every Thursday through the end of October.