Scenic Fall Color Routes in State Forests

Car driving along a forest road in Grand Portage State Forest.

Looking for an easy way to soak up fall color? Take a drive through Minnesota's state forests!

Driving through our state forests in fall is like driving through a kaleidoscope—the range of color really is amazing. Hilly or rugged areas dominated by deciduous trees tend to have the best mix of color, with the dark green needles of conifers accenting the yellow, orange and red leaves of deciduous trees.

Fall color forest drives are perfect for families, and also a great time to snap some photos for holiday cards.

Here are some of our favorite fall color drives through a few of Minnesota's 59 state forests.

Late September

  • Kabetogama State Forest loop. From Orr head north on State Highway 53 for 4 miles. Turn right on County Road 180 to head east for 16 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 203 to head east for about 4.5 miles. Turn right on Vermillion Falls road to head east for 8 miles. Turn right on County Road 24/23 and follow to Orr for 26 miles.
  • White Earth State Forest starting at Roy Lake head east on State Highway 200 for 1.5 miles. Turn right on Strawberry Mountain Road to head south for 5 miles. At Norris Trail turn left to head east for 3 miles. Turn left on Height of Land Road to head north back to Highway 200. For a longer loop follow Strawberry Mountain road to State Highway 113. Turn right on State Highway 113 to head east. Turn left on Height of Land Road to head north back to Highway 200.
  • Bowstring State Forest along State Highway 38 between Grand Rapids and Effie.

Early to mid-October

  • Rum River State Forest along Rum River State Forest Road off of Highway 20 – or along Rum River State Forest Road running between Mille Lacs county roads 20 and 116.
  • Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest loop. From downtown Red Wing head south on Highway 61 for 10.5 miles. At Frontenac take a right onto Country 2 to head east for 9 miles. Take a right onto County 3 to head east for 4 miles. Take a right onto State Highway 58 to head north for 1.5 miles. Take a left onto Hay Creek Trail to head north for about 4.5 miles. Hey Creek Trail turns into Twin Bluff Road at Pioneer Trail. Continue on Twin Bluff Road for 1.5 miles and turn left on East Ave to return to downtown Red Wing.

For more great rides, check out Fall Color Finder »