Louis M Groen Nature Preserve

17 Ways to Fall in Love with NE Michigan this Fall

Fall is such a beautiful time of year in NE Michigan. Here are some great ways to get out and enjoy the beauty, get connected in the community, and support some local businesses! 

  1. Check out Ocqueoc Falls. Not only is it gorgeous in the fall, you might even catch some salmon jumping upstream! It might take a little patience, but it’s a fun sight to see the fish jumping up the falls to make their way upstream to spawn. You can make it a quick stop to check out the falls for salmon sightings – or you can also spend a little extra time and walk the pathway. It’s the perfect place to choose your own adventure.

  1. Drive the River Road Scenic Byway in Iosco County and check out the fall views at Iargo Springs, Lumberman’s Monument, and Foote Dam Pond. Each stop on the drive is beautiful, but be sure to walk east at Lumberman’s monument to get the view from the top of the sand dune! If you are up for a longer hike, you can hike the Highbanks River Trail between Iargo Springs and Cooke Dam Road. Or catch the colors from the water on the AuSable River Queen which delivers scenic rides on the Foote Dam Pond, outside of Oscoda.


  1. Hit up your favorite local coffee shops and sip on some fall flavors. What do Pumpkin Spice, Chai, Caramel Apple Butter, and Maple Mocha all have in common?! These yummy lattes taste like fall! And manage to give your energy levels a little boost on the colder, rainy days. Cabin Creek Coffee in Alpena, White Elk Coffee House in Atlanta, Coffee by Steph in Grayling, Sunrise Kava Café in Oscoda, and Cheboygan Coffee Roasters have you covered! You might even find a tasty treat to eat with your lovely fall drink. For a list of other local coffee shops throughout the region, head to the NE Michigan website!

  1. Check out the views at Deadman’s Hill, just south of Elmira on 131. Yes, technically it is just outside of the NE Michigan borders. However, it’s close enough – and amazing enough – we’ll let it slide. You can catch the view of Jordan River Valley from atop Deadman’s Hill. If you are up for it, hike the 3-mile loop on the Jordan River Pathway. You can start from the top of Deadman’s Hill – or start at the end of the parking area and end at Deadman’s Hill. It definitely has a little elevation going in and out of the valley, but it’s a beauty! Especially in the fall!

  1. Donuts anyone?! Who doesn’t love a good homemade donut in the fall. AJ’s Berry Farm in Lachine offers delicious donuts, pies, and other baked goods – along with pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, and even Indian corn! The Farm at Legacy Acres in Gaylord also offers incredible donuts – as well as pumpkins, soft pretzels, and other yummy treats. And, of course, there’s always Goodale’s Bakery in Grayling!


  1. Lest you think we’ve skipped the best donut place around, look no further! Knaebe’s Mmmunchy Krunchy Apple Farm & Ciderworks deserves its own item on the fall checklist. With woodfired pizzas, hard cider, apple cider, donuts and other delectable baked goods, apples galore, and all kinds of fun for the kiddos, there’s something for everyone at Knaebe’s. Don’t be misled by the fact that it appears to be out in the middle of nowhere. It is a bit like Disneyland in Northern Michigan on a fall weekend. But what better way to celebrate fall than a trip to Knaebe’s?! For a list of additional orchards in NE Michigan, head to our website!

  1. If hard cider is your thing, you definitely won’t want to miss the new(er) PIF Cider and Taproom in Alpena. Not only can you taste the amazing hard cider, you can also pick up some local baklava, yummy breads and galettes from Wandering Winds Farm & Bakery, and fresh greens from Presque Isle Farm! How can you beat that?! Make a day out of it, and check out the new murals while shopping and walking around Downtown Alpena!


  1. Go ORV/ATV riding and explore the woods decked out in all their fall splendor! To learn more about all things ORV/ATV related (including trail maps and links), check out the ORV/ATV Riding page on NE Michigan’s website. Don’t have an ORV/ATV? Well, you are in luck! NE Michigan happens to be giving away a guided ATV tour with Big Bear Adventures! Play along on Instagram and Facebook by October 22nd for a chance to win an adventure.

  1. Looking for the quintessential fall pumpkin farm activities? Along with Knaebe’s, AJ’s Berry Farm, and The Farm at Legacy Acres, be sure to check out Wellington Farm Park and Fleming Farm! Aside from offering visitors a view into life and farming like it was in the 1930’s, Wellington Farm Park also has a number of family-friendly fall activities: Pumpkin Chunkin, Pumpkin Carving Contests, and Jack-O-Lantern Hayrides to name a few. Fleming Farm also has great family-friendly activities this pumpkin season. Not only can you take a hayride to pick your own pumpkin, they have cider and donuts available, farm animals to pet, a hay maze, and a corn maze!


  1. You definitely can’t miss the Presque Isle Pumpkin Stroll this fall. Located at Presque Isle Harbor, the pumpkin stroll begins at the Presque Isle Harbor Marina parking lot and takes you on a ¼ mile walk through the woods lined with community-carved pumpkins to the Old “haunted” lighthouse. Event takes place on October 14th, so be sure to check it out!


  1. Get into the woods! The woods are just begging to be explored and enjoyed during fall. It happens to be my personal favorite time of year for hiking. The colors make the woods come alive in ways it doesn’t the rest of the year. There are a number of hikes you can enjoy in the fall – and a few are mentioned in this blog, but if you need a recommendation, head to the Hiking page on NE Michigan’s website! The trails at S. Higgins Lake State Park (Marl Lake) are sure to be gorgeous – as is Louis M. Groen Nature Preserve, Agnes S. Andraea Nature Preserve, and Besser Natural Area.

  1. Listen to hear the elk bugle in Pigeon River Country State Forest! You can pick up an Elk Viewing Map from the Discovery Center in Vanderbilt. Drive or hike around for a view of them – and keep your ears open! They bugle during rutting season. If you’ve never heard it (or even if you have!) it’s an incredibly magical experience. You can also view (and hear!) elk at Thunder Bay Resort, on their elk viewing carriage ride, gourmet dinner, and wine tasting event. Or stop by the Gaylord’s City Elk Park.

  1. Go for a fall drive. Check out the Fall Color Tour map for Ogemaw County to view 5 different sections of beautiful fall colors. You can also drive the Roscommon County Quilt Trail to view the fall colors. As a bonus, you can look for the quilt blocks on the barns; it’s almost like looking for Easter eggs! In Presque Isle, E Grand Lake Road is quite beautiful in the fall. Be sure to stop in to visit Birch Hill Grocery for snacks, drinks, and fun gifts along the way. Any road in Oscoda County will be beautiful. A personal favorite is McKinley Rd, outside of Mio. It’s on the opposite side of the AuSable River from the River Road Scenic Byway, and it’s such a beautiful drive – with views of the AuSable River, too! And as always, grab a map of Pigeon River Country and drive around the back roads. The woods are so magical in the fall.


  1. Attend a NE Michigan Local Meet-Up Fall Series event! There are plenty left to choose from! They are geared for the young/young(ish) professional crowd, but if you are young at heart, you are welcome! Use these events as an opportunity to meet new people, do new things (or old things with new people!), and learn more about what NE Michigan is doing to help connect folks throughout the region. You can win some NE Michigan swag at some of the events, too! They have been great fun – and some wonderful connections have been made. We’d love to have you join, too!  In the next couple of weeks, we have: Free Apps @ HopSide Brewery in Alpena, Biking at S. Higgins Lake State Park, Hiking at Ogemaw Hills Pathway, and Hiking at Besser Natural Area. These are just a sampling. Check them out and please RSVP so we know you are coming!

  1. Experience the haunted spookiness of the Tee Lake Halloween Spooktacular! This happens to be the 13th anniversary of the event. Rumor has it the guys who put it on go all out and put on a pretty spectacular display! You can drive through the event and tune your radio to spooky music, but if you have the opportunity to walk through it, that would be even better! There’s so much to see! It’s open nightly until Halloween, from dusk to 10pm.


  1. Get your groove on at Roscommon’s Rocktoberfest. This event celebrates the end of summer and beginning of fall with food trucks, beverages, kids’ bounce houses, and live music. It takes place October 14th from 4pm-11:30pm. It started as a fun way to celebrate their 150th Birthday. They had so much fun they decided to make it a tradition!


  1. Check out NE Michigan’s Regional Calendar for additional festive fall events throughout the region! If you attend one, take a pic and post it to the I Love NE Michigan Facebook group. We’d love to see a picture from your point of view celebrating fall in NE Michigan.