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 150+ 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 their 2022, 2021, and 2020 Fall Color Tour recommendations – and stay tuned for the 2023 routes.
The County Road Association of Michigan identified these Kent County roads as “don’t-miss” destinations for fall color:
- Honey Creek Avenue from Pettis Avenue to Cannonsburg Road
- Bailey Drive from Vergennes Street to Lincoln Lake Avenue
- Fallasburg Park Drive from Lincoln Lake Avenue to Gavin Lake Avenue
- 5 Mile Road from Lincoln Lake Avenue to Gavin Lake Avenue
- Gavin Lake Road from 5-mile road to Belding Road
- Wabasis Avenue from Belding Road to 12 Mile Road
- Ramsdell Drive from 5 Mile Road to 11 Mile Road
The Grand Ravines' pedestrian bridge is the perfect spot for catching fall color scenery.
Photo by Alina Albin for Experience GR.
Fall Photo Spots
If you want to plan your own driving route, consider these scenic stops for your itinerary. You’ll find all sorts of colorful photo ops as you explore them on foot.
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 located in Leonard Park, 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.
Grand Ravines Park. This Jenison park offers scenic views of the Grand River and a pedestrian bridge, plus a “treehouse” that’s perfect for capturing panoramic vistas of fall color.
Grand River Riverfront Park. Walking paths throughout this Lowell park are lined with fall foliage but the most popular photo spot may be the pedestrian bridge over the Grand River.
Lowell Area Trailway. Staying in Lowell, this 2.5-mile paved pathway connects the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Rail Trail with the Wittenbach/Wege Agriscience and Environmental Education Center, which offers another five miles of trails through lush forests, rolling prairies, open fields, and wetlands.
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+ varieties of apples, enjoying cider and homemade baked goods, and engaging with nature via hayrides, a corn maze, a petting zoo, and a mountain bike trail.
September and October are prime apple picking months, making it the perfect complementary activity to your fall color tour.
Photo by Experience Grand Rapids
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!) Here are some fall hiking tips from GR locals.
- 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).
- Try a flight of hard cider on the tucked-in-the-woods patio at Farmhaus Cider – it’s one of many Flights of Flavor food & drink pairings available throughout town.
- Tour local breweries for a taste of pumpkin beer and other seasonal specials.
- Soak up 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 Pink Barrel Cellars, among others. Visit during Restaurant Week GR (Nov. 3-11, 2023) for special deals on special meals.
- Get a bird’s eye view of the city in fall from MDRD restaurant on the 27 floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Lookout Park atop Belknap Bluff or a helicopter tour.
- Enjoy some man-made color – visit ArtPrize Sep. 14-Oct. 1, 2023 to see hundreds of artworks from international arts, all over downtown Grand Rapids.