July 18, 2024 8:20 am
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Watching the Colorful Autumn Leaves Fall in Michigan

Credit: iStock

Armand Jackson

With fall approaching, Michiganders should witness the leaves start to change once again to the colorful hues of rich yellows and ambers that are often associated with the season. For those curious about this fascinating transition from summer to fall the Smithsonian explains the process of leaves changing colors. Throughout the warmer parts of the year, particularly spring and summer, leaves are green because of the chlorophyll they use to absorb energy from sunlight during photosynthesis which the leaves convert into sugars to feed the trees. As the season changes to colder temperatures and shorter days the trees get less direct sunlight, and the chlorophyll in the leaves start to break down.

This process reveals the yellow and orange pigments that were already in the leaves but were hidden during the warmer months. Sometimes red pigments can appear depending on the type of tree, like oak and dogwood, and sugars that can get trapped in the leaves. These vibrant colors create aesthetic views that make fall one of the more popular seasons amongst Michiganders. Pure Michigan and mLive list destinations where both residents and tourists can travel in order to appreciate the fall sceneries. Some of these destinations include; M-22 and the Leelanau Peninsula; M-201 and Leelanau State Park; Copper Country Trail National Byway; River Road National Scenic Byway; Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, and many more. 

But what time of year is best to visit these destinations and observe these changes to the trees and leaves? ClickOnDetroit has reported on the predicted timeline for Michigan’s color change for 2022 based on data from SmokyMountains’s annual Fall Foliage Prediction Map that forecasts when the color changes will reach their peak. Based on their reporting, much of the latter half of September will have patchy color changes throughout most of the state towards partial color change. By early October there should be near peak color change throughout most of the state with Oct. 17 being the point when all of Michigan will be past peak color change.