LAKE MILLE LACS — Fall in Minnesota; many call it the most beautiful time of year. It’s the brief window between summer’s glory and winter’s frost when leaves change to red, orange and yellow, creating the most vibrant natural landscapes and backdrops.
Around Lake Mille Lacs, the fall colors usually peak around the end of September through early October. As of today, the Minnesota DNR calls the leaves in the area 50 to 75 percent of peak color, in other words, the best is soon to come.
The DNR’s website has a “Fall Color Finder” updated by noon every Thursday giving the latest color change reports at state parks around Minnesota, including Father Hennepin State Park and Mille Lacs Kathio State Park on the southern end of Lake Mille Lacs.
When the colors are nearing their peak, fall enthusiasts can soak it all in by taking a scenic drive around the lake. It’s about 75 miles around Lake Mille Lacs, and according to Tina Chapman, executive director of the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council, there is a lot to see. From picturesque overlooks to scenic byways, here are a few lakeside routes that are sure to be photo worthy:
To the North
• Highway 18 (From Garrison to Malmo)
This is an elevated route, giving you a bird’s eye view of the lake and the fall color that surrounds it.
• Garrison Concourse (Northwest side of the lake, in Garrison)
The Garrison Concourse is the only stone overlook in Minnesota that projects into a lake, providing stunning views from the shoreline.
To the South
• Vista Road (Southeast side of the lake, just north of Isle)
Vista Road received its name for a reason. Wooded on both sides, this road showcases fall color at its best.
• Father Hennepin State Park (Southeast side of lake)
Hike along the lake at Father Hennepin State Park’s 4.5 miles of trail surrounded by stunning Maple, Basswood and Ash trees.
• Twilight Road (Southwest side of the lake, off Highway 169)
You can’t drive any closer to Lake Mille Lacs without driving in it! Twilight Road is a peaceful, slow drive literally right next to the lake.
• Mille Lacs Kathio State Park (Southwest side of the lake)
Climb the 100 foot observation/fire tower for a breathtaking view of Lake Mille Lacs in the fall. Don’t forget your camera!
Access Minnesota’s Fall Color Finder and discover more things to do on and around Lake Mille Lacs, including world-class fishing and year-round outdoor adventure for the entire family, at millelacs.com.