Autumn in northwest Michigan – some say it’s the best time of year….and who are we to argue! Grab your fleece and take a driving tour (or hike in other areas if you’d prefer). Bright reds, yellows and oranges surround you at every bend in the road…jumping out from maples, oaks, aspens and birches. Lakes are alive with geese and ducks, sometimes hidden by early morning mists. Deer quietly share your space and the aroma of woodsmoke fills the air. Take a tour and check out our natural beauty and country charm.
View the Fall Color Guide online.
Circle Lake Charlevoix
35 miles and approximately 50 minutes drive time, plus possible waits for the bridge and ferry. When you get to Mount McSauba Park, stop to explore sand dunes, hiking trails and the beach.
Depart Boyne City north on Lake Street (C-56) to U.S. 31. *Turn left at U.S. 31 for about one mile. * Turn right on Mercer Boulevard and continue to the last street. * Take a left at the end, then another left.*Continue on to Mount McSauba Road and turn right at the stop sign. Return to U.S. 31. * Continue on U.S. 31 straight into town.*Depart Charlevoix on U.S. South to M-66. * Take a left into Ironton. * Turn left and board the Ironton Ferry (nominal fee). *Continue straight along Ferry Road to Boyne City.
Jordan River Valley Tour
50 miles and approximately one hour drive time. Be sure to enjoy the scenic overlooks including spectacular views of the Jordan River Valley.
Depart Boyne Falls west along M-75 one mile to Deer Lake Road (C-48) and bear left. You’ll pass beautiful Deer Lake and also Boyne Mountain’s championship golf courses. * Stay left on C-48 into East Jordan. * Turn left at M-66. There’s an overlook with breathtaking vistas and you’ll cross the 45th Parellel. * Turn left on Alba Road. * Take a left at the junction of U.S. 131. * Continue five miles to the Deadman’ Hill turnoff and go left. The view of the Jordan River Valley from Deadman’s Hill is well worth the trip over a bumpy dirt road.* Backtrack to U.S. 131, turn left and return to Boyne Falls.
Surf and Turf
35 miles and approximately 45 minutes drive time. Rolling hills, picturesque Michigan farms and the south arm of Lake Charlevoix are highlights of this tour.
Depart Charlevoix along U.S. 31 south to the Ellsworth turn (C-48) at Atwood. * Turn left on C-48, continue five miles and turn left on Church, then left again at the next stop, staying on C-48. * In East Jordan, turn left on M-66 (you’ll pass the Ironton Ferry – highlighted in “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”) on this route. * Stay on M-66 to U.S. 31. A right on U.S. 31 takes you back into beautiful Charlevoix.
Tri County Tour
62 miles and approximately 1 1/4 hours drive time. On your return to Petoskey, be sure to take a moment to enjoy the spectacular view as you crest the hill entering town.
Head east out of Petoskey on Mitchell Street (C-58) taking note of the beautiful rolling hills and wide open fields; a stop at Bill’s Farm Market is also suggested! You’ll pass Wildwood Road (or turn onto it, if you wish, for hiking and cross country trails) and continue to Wolverine, home of the Lumberjack Festival. * Take a right at the stop light onto Straits Highway, continue for seven miles to Thumb Lake Road (C-48). * Take a right to U.S. 131. * Go left on U.S. 131 to Boyne Falls.* Turn west on M-75 to lovely Boyne City. * Stay on M-75 north through Walloon Lake Village to U.S. 131. * Turn left and and return to Petoskey. The gorgeous view on U.S. 131 is a welcoming invitation into a friendly town!
Tunnel of Trees
The scenery on these tours is among the best anywhere.
Depart Harbor Springs north on M-119 (perhaps investigating the Thorn Swift Nature Preserve and its beach on Lower Shore Drive). * M-119 takes you through Good Hart where guests have been visiting the quaint Good Hart General Store since 1934. Next you’re on to Cross Village and home of Legs Inn, an historical and architectural wonder. * Continue on M-119 for several miles to the stop sign. * Turn left on Lake Shore Drive to Lakeview Road at Sturgeon Bay and its sugar-sand beach and dunes. * Continue on Lakeview, which becomes Gill Road. * From here, choose either Tour A (a shorter route back to Harbor Springs) or Tour B (through Mackinaw City).
Tour A – 50 miles and approximately 1 1/4 hours drive time. On Gill Road, go three miles to Bliss and the junction with Pleasantview Road (C-81). * Continue south on Pleasantview Road to M-119. * Turn right on M-119 to return to Harbor Springs.
Tour B – 110 miles and approximately 2 1/2 hours drive time. On Gill Road, continue about five miles to Cecil Bay Road. * Take a left on Cecil Bay, then right at the stop sign on Wilderness Park Drive. * Continue north. * Turn left on Headlands to Central, and take the last left before I-75 (past Colonial Michilimackinac – a must see – in Mackinaw City). * Cross under I-75 at the base of the Mackinac Bridge, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, to U.S. 23 (while on this scenic route, you may want to visit Historic Mill Creek, a State of Michigan Historic Park). * Continue on U.S. 23 into Cheboygan. * Turn right at M-27 through Indian River. * Turn right on M-68 to Alanson. You’ll pass the Cross in the Woods and you really should stop by! * Turn left on U.S. 31 to the outskirts of Petoskey. * A right turn onto M-119 will take you back to Harbor Springs.