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The colors of autumn paint the Door County landscape in a kaleidoscope of color each October. Come peak color season, it’s hard to find a vista that doesn’t take your breath away, but those in the know can point you to the most picturesque routes for viewing fall colors.
This month Myles Dannhausen Jr., Assistant Ride Director of the Peninsula Century Bike Rides, selects five scenic routes to see the best fall colors Door County has on display. Whether you’re up for a short bike ride or a leisurely drive, you’ll find a route just a few minutes away no matter where you are in the County.
Of course Peninsula State Park is part of this list. With 3,776 acres of pristine forests abutting the shore of Green Bay, a drive through the crown jewel of the state parks system is a must for lovers of fall color.
Start your ride or drive at the Fish Creek entrance to the park and weave through the forest to Weborg Point, where you’ll want to stop to get a picture Fish Creek drenched in color across the harbor. Follow Shore Road until you take a right on Skyline Road to climb up Sven’s Bluff and be rewarded with a spectacular view of the shoreline and islands.
As you wind your way through the park you’ll find Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, and incredible views of Nicolet Bay, Horseshoe Island, and the Village of Ephraim from Eagle Terrace.
As you exit the park in Ephraim, turn right on Hwy 42 to Maple Grove Road, where a canopy of color opens up to snippets overlooking Ephraim. Wind your way past old barns and autumn fields, keeping an eye out for wild turkey as you make your way back to Fish Creek.
Start in Baileys Harbor and head west out of town on County Highway F, turning right to stay on F where it intersects with CTY HWY EE. Here you’ll likely pass the cows in pasture at Gray-Aire Dairy Farm, then continue for about a mile till you hit Highland Road. Continue straight to High Plateau Road, where you’ll turn left and soon find one of the great under-the-radar backroad overlooks, as the colorful valley surrounding Peil Creek opens up before you.
Soak it in, then turn left on CTY HWY EE for a short stretch before turning left on North Maple Road, which will soon become Logerquist Road.
This is another sneaky beautiful stretch, taking you south past Waseda Farms and the old Logerquist Barn, which you’ll no doubt want to get a photo of. Turn around, heading back up Logerquist Road, and take a right on Fairview Road, then a left on West Kangaroo Lake Road until you hit CTY HWY E.
Turn right, and you’ll soon see the waters of Kangaroo Lake and surrounding natural area open up before you (another great photo op!). If you're hungry or craving libations, Coyote Roadhouse is a great stop on the lake.
Head over the causeway to Red Cherry Road and turn left. You’ll see beautiful protected Door County Land Trust property to your west. Finally, turn right on Bluff Road and ride through the wooded canopy until you’re back in Baileys Harbor staring at the water as you enter town.
From the center of Egg Harbor, drive south on Horseshoe Bay Road and you’ll get incredible color views as you pass Alpine Golf Course beneath the bluff. About four miles outside of the village a field will open up before you, providing breathtaking views of the bluff in color, and at the end you’ll find the beautiful, historic barns of Horseshoe Bay Farms, once the largest employer in Door County.
Continue south, weaving along the shore to Sturgeon Bay, dramatic views of another Door County Land Trust preserve just south of the long-dormant resort, and then the waterfront views of George Pinney County Park.
Continue on into Sturgeon Bay, where the road will take you straight onto historic Third Avenue, or take a left on Delaware Street and into the rural countryside of Sevastopol Township. You’ll pass old barns, orchards and beautiful homes tucked into these less-traveled back roads before finishing with a stunning water view framed in fall color as you return to the village.
Head north of Sister Bay and start your ride or drive at Seaquist Orchards, taking Green Road to Beach Road for a peaceful ride north. Take a pit stop at Ellison Bluff State Natural Area, where you’ll get an awe-inspiring view of Green Bay from hundreds of feet atop the Niagara Escarpment. Continue north on Highway 42 and you’ll catch another dramatic view atop the Ellison Bay Hill before passing through the tiny village and turning left on Garrett Bay Road.
This route will take you past Jens Jensen’s famed learning center, The Clearing, winding along the shoreline into Gills Rock, and all the way to the Northport Ferry and one of Wisconsin’s most famous photo ops on “the winding road.”
If you’re ambitious, take the Washington Island Ferry over Death’s Door for a jaunt around the island. You’ll need to set aside several hours to add this, but it’s well worth it for a visit to beautiful Schoolhouse Beach and a climb to the lookout tower in the center of the island and its incredible 360-degree view.
If you can’t do the island, head back to Timberline Road and take it south toward Newport State Park. Keep following this route and you’ll get great views off Lakeview Road, a peak at the head of the Mink River Estuary on peaceful Rowley’s Bay, before finally heading down Waters End Road and a stretch that seems straight out of a magazine. End your ride in the Village of Sister Bay, or return to Seaquist Orchard and load up on fresh cherry pie straight from the harvest.
As any Door County veteran knows, everything here is better from the water. Though the water may be chilly in October, a scenic fall color tour by boat will be a memorable experience.
Get a glimpse of the majestic homes along Fish Creek’s Cottage Row as they’re blanketed in autumn splendor, or see Eagle Bluff from below, instead of above, as you ride along the shore of Peninsula State Park.
View the full October 2016 Newsletter here.
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