Outside in MN

Breaking hues: Most of state past peak for fall colors — but not southeastern Minn.

Fall colors brighten a roadside
Fall colors brighten a roadside in Pine County, east of Beroun, Minn., on Monday. While there are still a few bright pockets of color scattered throughout the southeastern part of the state, most of Minnesota is already past peak fall color.
Andrew Krueger | MPR News

Let’s talk about leaves, or rather, what’s left of them. 

While there are still a few bright pockets of color scattered throughout the southeastern stretch of the state, the vast majority of Minnesota is already past peak color, according to the Department of Natural Resources’ fall color finder

“It’s been unfortunate it’s going so fast,” says the DNR’s Rachel Hopper. “It’s way ahead of where it’s been the last couple of years.” 

Despite the accelerated season, Hopper says this time of year has its perks. 

“Everybody rushes out when there’s fall color, but after the leaves fall it really becomes this quiet, beautiful place,” she says. “I really recommend that late fall, kind of early winter hike.

But, that’s not the only reason Hopper enjoys this midseason interim. 

“You have a chance to see so much wildlife once the leaves fall off their trees,” Hopper says. “Even though I hate to see the beautiful fall colors go, you actually have much better bird- and wildlife-watching opportunities.” 

For those looking to catch a glimpse of the last of the state’s peak color, Hopper suggests traveling to the southeastern portion of the state. Below is a list of spots showing off peak color this weekend. Hurry, or you’ll miss it. 

Where to find the best fall colors this week.
Where to find the best fall colors this week.
Courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Fort Snelling State Park, St. Paul

If you’re looking to stay near the metro, Hopper says Fort Snelling State Park is the most behind in terms of fall color, with plenty of color to see. 

The DNR recommends the Pikes Island Trail, which travels along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. “It’s a great place to take a quiet stroll,” Hopper says. 

Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Caledonia 

The park is currently at peak color and is “truly a nature lover's paradise,” according to Hopper. 

Located in the state’s driftless area, the park’s Hole-In-The-Rock Trail offers stunning views of valleys and bluffs. 

Frontenac State Park, Frontenac

“It is truly one of my favorite parks,” Hopper says. “The maples on the upper bluff lands and the Bluffside Trail are a beautiful canopy of gold.”

For wildlife lovers, Hopper calls this “one of the best spots in the country to see birds migrating in the fall.” 

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