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Duluth in the Fall

Woodbury, Minnesota
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Duluth in the Fall

We are traveling by car and trailer (some hotels) this year and are looking at destinations for late Summer and Fall. We might be in upper Minnesota and heard that the Fall colors are quite impressive in Duluth. Is September too early to visit? Our visit can only be for a short time, maybe a few days. Also, are there other events happening during Sept. or possibly early Oct. in the Duluth area? In case of rain/snow (?) what entertainment options would we have. Maybe we would be better off staying more south but we hear so much about going "up North".

Links to Websites or publications would also be appreciated.

Thanks, RP

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1. Re: Duluth in the Fall

I would guess you are going to get information overload because Minnesotans are pretty passionate about the North Shore. Fall is a wonderful time to visit it.

It varies, but your best bet to see fall color is probably the first week of October on the North Shore. The brilliant maples are up higher on the ridge and in the hills away from the shore. You can access those ares on Highway 1, the Sawbill Trail, and the Gunflint Trail. If you come, make sure you go inland; don't just stick to Highway 61. By far the most spectacular fall hike (if you hit the timing right) is the trail around Mt. Oberg just north of Tofte.

There is a series of great state parks on the North Shore: rock beaches, lighthouse, waterfalls, canyons, rocky points, etc. DNR website:


A good guide for the entire North Shore:


Grand Marais is a scenic town well up the shore that is a favorite place to visit:


If you do the North Shore around the first of October, you can then catch more great colors south of the Twin Cities along Highway 61 on the trip back as it follows the Mississippi River. The colors there are generally a week or two behind. The weather is usually decent this time. I must admit I photographed fall color with snow coming down this last October, but, believe me, it's pretty rare. Much more likely to get 55 degrees and blue skies.

Munich, Germany
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2. Re: Duluth in the Fall

It's true that the best colors are inland in maple forest and come closer to October. But Duluth is very pretty in September, and people converge on it from all over the nation to watch the hawk migration from Hawk Ridge.

It's also a great time to hike, and Duluth has wonderful trails along its ravines and on the Superior Hiking Trail through town. A lot of people like to hang out on the harbor watching Great Lakes and oceangoing boats come in.

On a rainy day (snow is not very likely), you can tour Glensheen, a mansion on the lake. Duluth details: midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/…

From the third week of September to the third week of October, Duluth and the entire North Shore are packed, because people love to go there in fall. So if you come, reserve early. Here's an overview of the North Shore: midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/touring/scen…

Destination Expert
for Minneapolis, Minnesota
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3. Re: Duluth in the Fall

Being one of my favorite places in the world, fall on the North Shore is amazingly beautiful if you time it right.The reports are correct that color up there can be anywhere between late Sept to late Oct. It started early last year because of a summer drought. There is so much natural beauty up there, you don't really need to look for special events. Just check out all the nature and local fun. If weather is crappy, which it very well might be, there's a lot of history and sights to see.

I almost always visit in the first half of Oct, and get bad weather about half the time. However, it doesn't deter me or the quality of my trip, and I'm not as hardcore as others. If you can, dock your trailer in one of the many beautiful state parks available. And if you're there during the week, it will be less crowded.

Check out the Duluth forum, there are other recent posts for spring visits that would also apply to fall - they can be very similar. Lots of good information recently posted. And if you need something specific, please ask. Seriously, there's so much to see and do up there, that's why I keep going back.

Woodbury, Minnesota
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4. Re: Duluth in the Fall

Thank you all. I have looked at some of the web sites and look forward to our trip. It all looks like I need to plan more time if I can. Can say I'm a skier but we in line skate a bit and bike. Doesn't look like we will be there for snow anyway. Thank you again.

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5. Re: Duluth in the Fall

If you travel with your bikes or your in line skates, you'll have an opportunity to use them. There is a paved trail being constructed that some day will run the length of the North Shore. Segments of it are finished now. The best section runs from Gooseberry Falls State Park to the town of Beaver Bay. It's about 15 miles, runs along the lake, and is very beautiful. There are flat sections I have in line skated, but there are also hillier parts that are best biked. There is a path along the the lake in Duluth that many people skate. Also, old Highway 61 is a scenic route now with wide shoulders. It runs from Duluth to Two Harbors and is the route for the North Shore InLine Marathon held the second weekend in September.

Two Harbors...
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6. Re: Duluth in the Fall

I have posted these links on a couple of other threads, but will re-post here, too:

For Duluth options: www.visitduluth.com will also give you some ideas for rainy day options.

Also try the following site: http://www.twoharborschamber.com/

This will give you a broad range of information on the North Shore including lodging, state parks, & recreational activities. There are a number of very nice lodging facilities in Duluth & up the shore in Lake & Cook Counties to choose from. Two Harbors has a very nice waterfront area with a breakwater to view ore boats being loaded & a waterfront trail starting at the Lighthouse B & B. (Awesome photo ops!)

Also, the MN DNR website:


will provide links to the EIGHT state Parks located along the North Shore. State Park campgrounds tend to fill up quickly, but should be a bit more available in the fall. It's best to plan early if you're considering staying at the State Parks. Spectacular scenery, so plan to take some time on this leg of your trip to truly appreciate the North Shore that you can't view from the car windows. It is a photographer's & nature lover's dream!

" The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) is a 235-mile long footpath that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota from Two Harbors to the Canadian border. There are an additional 39 miles of trail through the City of Duluth from Jay Cooke State Park to Martin Road. The SHT has trailheads with parking lots every 5-10 miles making it ideal for both day hikes and backpacking." To view their website click on this link:


Another must-see location that isn't on the map is Palisade Head, a high cliff with phenomenal lake views, well known to climbers. It is located just north of Silver Bay on Hwy 61, just past the Palisade Baptist Church on the right. The view to the north is of Shovel Point, part of Tettegouche State Park. (Trivia: Part of the movie "The Good Son" with McCauley Caulkin was filmed there.)

Plan on peak colors being the last week in September to the 1st week in October, BUT fall colors can vary from year to year, so check the Explore Minnesota website: www.ExploreMinnesota.com for peak color updates or call the Two Harbors Chamber which will have a pretty good idea of the colors along the shore & inland. (Inland areas change colors first and later along the shore closer to the lake. They may be even a week or 2 later which can give you a wider range of travel options.) Some spectacular inland tours are up Highway 1 to Finland and up the gondola at Lutsen Mountains, and of course the famous Split Rock Lighthouse.

Nashville, Tennessee
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7. Re: Duluth in the Fall

If you are coming for fall color and natural wonders, I would also suggest Jay Cooke State Park! It is inland from Duluth on the St Louis river. There are over 50 miles of hiking trails in that one park.

One great website to check out just for pictures is


Good Luck on your trip!

8. Re: Duluth in the Fall

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