MARQUETTE - Michigan is one of the handful of states that enjoy all four seasons, and it's weekends like the coming one that really characterize the fall season for Michiganders.
As the fall colors peak in the Upper Peninsula, many residents of Marquette County are finding ways to enjoy it, opting to drive north to the Keweenaw or any number of fall color destinations, or otherwise finding a place to get outside close to home.
Lindsay Bean of Switchback Gear Exchange and Outfitter said that while most inland areas had colors peaking last week, trees along the shoreline are just now getting to their best color and provide the best areas for fall colors.
Tim and Tonya Sallade of Lake Orion, Mich., enjoy the fall scenery on Thursday afternoon while visiting Marquette for Northern Michigan University’s Parents Weekend. (Journal photo by Amanda Monthei)
"I live out in Harvey and man, I was driving into town today and the trees right along the lake are just exploding," she said. "It seems like the oak trees are actually the ones that are really super red right now and a lot of the maples are still yellow and orange."
Bean, who prefers to enjoy the colors by mountain biking in the area, said that a good old-fashioned hike or fall-color drive is the best way to get your fill of the fall season.
"Two good ways (to check out the colors) are to go somewhere high where you can look out and see all the colors," she said. "That or dirt roads where the canopy comes all the way over the road. A lot of dirt roads north and west of Marquette are fun to just go drive on (this time of year)."
Suggesting the classic Marquette hikes of Sugarloaf or Hogsback, Bean also mentioned that Copper Harbor could be a good weekend trip for Marquette residents looking to get their fall color experience.
"I mean if you go up Sugarloaf or Hogsback this weekend, you're guaranteed a good color view," she said. "It's also close to town, an easy hike, and at either one of them-especially since it's peaking right along the lakeshore-it should be great."
As for Copper Harbor, Mount Bohemia's annual fall color lift rides have been cancelled, but Bean said that there are a myriad of other ways to enjoy the area.
"There are good (mountain biking) trails up in Copper Harbor," she said. "If you were going to go up to Copper Harbor for the colors, you could take a bike and ride."
Randy Swaty of the Nature Conservancy in Marquette provided some context on the reasons for the changing leaves, knowledge that many learn in elementary school but tend to forget as they get older.
"There are multiple pigments in the leaves that take the sunlight and convert it into energy," he said. "Leaves mostly have green pigments but as they pool that expensive pigment back in to store it up, other pigments emerge and the other colors come out.
"So (the bright) colors are always in there, they're just covered up by the green (for most of the year)."
The weekend's forecast of rain and potential snow could put a damper on locals trying to get outside for the colors, but seeing as this is one of only a handful of weekends to enjoy the colors, Bean insists on taking advantage of it while you can.
"There are a lot of things that make Marquette the place to be, like actually having changing seasons instead of it being all the same," she said. "Right now we're at the crux or the tipping point of the season - this is it, this is the change. And it's kind of cool to watch actually. You can visibly see, every day, a change."
Amanda Monthei can be reached at 906-225-2700.