West Michigan's abundant forests helped fuel Grand Rapids' rise as "furniture capital of the world" in the late 19th-early 20th centuries. While many hardwoods were sacrificed to sawmills in those years, Grand Rapids remains a tree-lover's paradise.
You’ll see an explosion of fall colors in 130+ local parks, on tree-lined suburban streets and even alongside expressways as you cruise around town – including a “mountain” of trees that greets you two minutes west of downtown on I-196.
Each year, the Kent County Road Commission releases four fall color routes that showcase the vibrant colors of the season and the natural beauty of the area. Check out this year’s suggestions.
If you want to plan your own route, consider including these scenic stops for your itinerary:
Ada Township Park. This 57-acre park includes a 200-tree arboretum, woodland garden, and nature area with barrier-free warbler trail.
Ada Covered Bridge. Erected in 1867, this 125-ft. Brown-truss wooden bridge spans the Thornapple River and is open to foot and bicycle traffic. It’s just steps away from the walkable shopping and dining village of Ada.
Blandford Nature Center. An extensive trail network through old-growth forest and a naturalized golf course are ideal for admiring fall’s color palette.
Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens. Hike scenic trails through 100+ acres of forest, wetlands and a native plant garden for a display of fall finery. Bring binoculars for birdwatching!
Fallasburg Covered Bridge. Opened in 1871, this 100-ft. Brown-truss wooden bridge still accommodates vehicular traffic across the Flat River just north of Lowell. It is adjacent to a forested county park crisscrossed with hiking trails. Visit Lowell’s charming main street, lined with antique shops, art galleries and restaurants – before or after your tour.
Millennium Park. Just five minutes from downtown, this 1,500-acre park boasts 18 miles of tree-lined hiking/biking trails, many alongside small lakes and the Grand River.
Pickerel Lake Park/Frederik Meijer Nature Preserve. Explore a scenic mix of wetlands, sandy woods, and rolling forest hills and valleys alongside a picturesque 80-acre lake. A 900-ft boardwalk crosses a portion of the lake.
Robinette’s Apple Haus & Winery. This 100-year old family orchard is a favorite fall destination for purchasing or picking 30+ variety of apples, enjoying cider and homemade baked goods, and engaging with nature via hayrides, a corn maze, petting zoo and mountain bike trail.
More Fall Fun
Other ideas to supplement your fall color tour:
- See fall foliage from a different perspective – on a leisurely hike/bike ride, alongside a golf fairway, from a canoe or kayak, or as you fish local rivers (it’s salmon and steelhead season!)
- Visit Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park for a different kind of fall color – its annual Chrysanthemums and More! exhibit spans thousands of multi-hued blooms across 158 acres.
- Head to the family farms of Fruit Ridge Markets for apples, pumpkins, hayrides, corn mazes and more.
- Pick your own apples at u-pick apple farms and orchards.
- Enjoy some fresh-pressed fall cider (and perhaps a just-baked doughnut or two).
- Tour local breweries for a taste of pumpkin beer and other seasonal specials.
- Enjoy the view from an outdoor restaurant patio – you can see great fall colors at Rose’s on Reeds Lake, Blue Water, Bostwick Lake Inn, Third Nature Brewing and Farmhaus Cider, among others.