Leaf Peeping in Duluth: By Land, Water and Air

Mother Nature likes to show off in Duluth – especially in fall. Lake Superior has a unique climate effect on the region, with cool autumn days and eye-popping fall colors arriving around mid-September. We’ve outlined below the different ways you can “leaf peep” and take in the beautiful fall foliage around the city – by land, water and air:

BY LAND

  • Via Trails and Parks
    • Bagley Nature Area: Sitting on the northwest part of the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus, this area consists of 59 acres of forest, pond, open areas and hiking trails, perfect for leaf peeping, birding and relaxing.
    • Chambers Grove Park: This park features access to the St. Louis River and Duluth Traverse mountain bike trail, along with a picnic pavilion, grills and a walking trail.
    • Chester Park: Located along Chester Creek in Duluth’s Hillside neighborhood, visitors can enjoy miles of hiking trails, picnic facilities and playground equipment. The Chester Bowl ski area hosts Fall Fest each September, featuring live music, crafts, locally grown produce, kids activities and more.
    • Ely’s Peak: Offers a hike with sweeping views. Just a few steps away, the Ely Tunnel, which is a 500-foot-long abandoned railroad tunnel through basalt. It’s all part of Duluth’s Magney-Snively Park. You can find parking for the tunnel at Munger Trailhead or Short Line Park.
    • Enger Tower: Standing five stories above Lake Superior, each level of the stone structure offers a view of the glimmering lake and abundant foliage below. (Note that access is closed at the end of October for the season.)
    • Glensheen Mansion grounds: The grounds of the historic lakefront mansion provide a stunning fall landscape. Admission to the grounds is just $5 for adults, and free for children under 15 with a paid adult. Members are also free.
    • Hawk Ridge: In addition to viewing in the migration of approximately 76,000 raptors each fall, visitors can also traverse four miles of hiking trails where they can take in geology, flora and wildlife.
    • Lakewalk: For a flatter journey, the newly renovated Lakewalk stretches for more than seven miles along the lake, providing stunning – and accessible – views of the lake and hillside year-round.
    • Lester Park: This park in Duluth’s east end features more than nine miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. The Lester River Rendezvous takes place every September and features food, crafts and entertainment.
    • Spirit Mountain: Take in the beautiful scenery from atop Spirit Mountain (and see the trees whip by as you head down the Timber Twister Alpine Coaster at the Adventure Park!).
    • Any of Duluth’s City Parks: Duluth has more than 6,800 acres of parkland to take in the fall landscape.
Credit: Alyssa Hei
  • Via Car
    • Haines Road: Stretching from West Duluth to the Miller Hill Mall area, cruising this winding road is a beautiful way to take in the fall colors.
    • North Shore Scenic Drive/Hwy 61: Duluth makes a fantastic home base for daytrips up the North Shore Scenic Drive, which features 154 miles of breathtaking views of Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline. 
    • Skyline Parkway: A dramatic 30-mile drive 600 feet above the shoreline will give you sweeping autumnal views. Take in Lake Superior, the harbor and Twin Ports, famed Hawk Ridge on Seven Bridges Road, and rock canyons and tumbling streams.

BY WATER

  • Via Boat
    • Vista Fleet Cruises: Check out the fall tours to take in autumn’s beauty by boat: Coffee and Colors, Lunch & Leaves and the Harvest Dinner Cruise. (Note that the coffee and lunch tours will not go into the lake under the Lift Bridge, but will explore the St. Louis River system and surrounding foliage.)

BY AIR

  • Via Helicopter
    • Lake Superior Helicopter Tour: For unique and breathtaking views, schedule a Lake Superior Helicopter tour. You can choose tours that will fly you over the city, the harbor and the Aerial Lift Bridge, Park Point, Glensheen Mansion, Spirit Mountain and more. 

Posted on September 5, 2022