Bursting with color: Prime leaf peeping season has arrived
Bemidji is nearing its peak fall color, and nearby state parks offer perfect front row seats for glimpsing one of the biggest nature shows of the year.
Locally, Lake Bemidji and Itasca State Parks showcase a spectacular array of dark evergreens amid vivid autumn hues of maples, oaks and aspens, among others, set against a backdrop of lakes, bogs and winding streams and rivers.
Scenic drives and hikes are always a delight this time of year, but they are especially worthwhile nowadays because they provide a socially-distanced opportunity for folks to get out and experience nature in its most eye-catching state.
"Overall, fall colors this year should be especially lovely if the recent sunny days and chilly, but not freezing, nights continue,” Val Cervenka, forest health program consultant with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, said in a release.
In Lake Bemidji State Park, leaf peepers should take a drive along the main road to see bright reds, blaze oranges, and golden yellows. They should also hike the Rocky Point Trail to see golden basswoods and blaze orange maples; or take a walk along the Paul Bunyan Trail to see beautiful leaves.
In Itasca State Park, rapid color change has been noted throughout the park in the last week, and all varieties of Itasca's trees are showing color change, an unusual feature this early in the season, the Minnesota DNR’s Fall Color Finder said.
Leaf peepers should drive along Main Park Drive and continue on to Wilderness Drive to see the advancing change in the red and sugar maples, oaks, elm, birch and basswood, among others.
The DNR recommends hiking the shores of Mary Lake along the Mary Lake Trail to see fantastic views across the lake. Ozawindib and Deer Park Trails also have amazing color, as does Myrtle Lake Crossover trail.
For sighting a mix of most tree species, a hike on the Dr. Roberts Trail does the trick; and the Brower Trail offers beautiful views across Lake Itasca.
Use the DNR’s Fall Color Finder to find areas in Minnesota with peak fall color. The color finder is updated weekly through October.