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A focus on fall color

Alex Doty • Sep 23, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Autumn is upon us, and that means tree leaves are beginning to start their annual turn to bright red, blazing orange and intense yellow.

With Michigan being home to 111 tree cities — two located right here in northwest Ottawa County in Grand Haven and Spring Lake — there is ample opportunity to find the perfect place to view fall color.

“Fall in the Grand Haven area is a nice transition from the busy summer season to the quiets of winter,” said Marci Cisneros, director of the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The weather is comfortable with warm days and cool nights, with the harvesting of apples and pumpkins paired with corn mazes and hay rides which makes for wonderful weekend getaway.”

Added Cisneros: “The sunsets are more spectacular this time of year and add to the color tour concept so many families and empty nesters seek.”

She noted that this time of year allows people not only to view the fall beauty of Lake Michigan, but also what’s available inland.

“In autumn the most dynamic leaf colors are often found inland on back country roads and within the forested trails of our parks system,” Cisneros said. “This is a great time of year for folks to explore Grand Haven and Spring Lake as well as our neighboring farm communities of Coopersville, Allendale and West Olive.”

Stefanie Herder, Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau marketing manager, offered her own take on the area’s fall color offering.

“I recently was a guest blogger on Pure Michigan’s website and wrote about ‘4 Ways to Enjoy Fall in the Grand Haven area,’” she said.

“When it comes to color tours, I usually recommend the Historic River Road Tour that Ottawa County Parks has created,” Herder added. “It takes you along the Grand River, and is a fun drive out to Allendale/Coopersville and back.”

Other recommendations Herder wrote about in her Pure Michigan blog post to enjoy fall color include trekking the area by foot, by bicycle and via the water.

Fall Color Forecast

With all of the fall color tour opportunities in the Grand Haven area, what will the fall color be like this season?

William Marino, climatologist for the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, said he expects leaves to change color and drop earlier this year.

“We’ve been unusually dry,” Marino said. “That causes a lot of stress so when trees get stressed, they lose their leaves quicker.”

And even if the area were to get rain and conditions changed, Marino said he didn’t think that would have an affect on this year’s fall color.

“The trees are already stressed,” he said, noting that the temperature fluctuations this month have also played a role.

“Certainly, this week is going to be warm and most of next week is going to be warm ... It’s going to be warm into the middle of next week,” Marino said. “I think it’s going to get significantly colder the last few days of September into October.”

Marino added that for the rest of fall, he anticipated temperatures being colder than normal.

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