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Locals and visitors alike pause in awe to take in the beauty of Door County during the fall season. The days are still sunny and long, temperatures are just right and nature is putting on a spectacular display in the canopy of leaves that are changing color in anticipation of winter. The bluffs and water views are just that much more beautiful quilted in warm reds, oranges and yellows. Experience the splendor of the season first-hand on an autumn tour.
The natural areas of the peninsula are varied and plentiful. Home to five state parks, you can navigate your way along bluffs, streams, fields, lakes, dunes and much more. Peninsula State Park, just north of Fish Creek, has a total of 20 miles of hiking trails, with some offering off-road biking trails. Potawatomi State Park, on the south side of the Sturgeon Bay canal, offers gorgeous hikes with water views and is home to the eastern trail head of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Head to the Eastern side of the peninsula to find a big sand bay that is Whitefish Dunes State Park. The beach is perfect for a warm afternoon stroll or go inland to hike to Clark Lake or to “Old Baldy,” the highest dune in the park that provides a stunning overlook in fall. Go all the way north and you’ll find the serene hiking trails of Newport State Park. Kayak along the shore of Lake Michigan to see the leaves from the water or do an overnight camping trip on one of the hike-in sites. Last, but not least, take the two ferries over to Rock Island State Park to really feel away from it all. Soak in the sun or hike the island to take in the view from the tip top of the peninsula.
Beyond the state parks, there are 14 different hikeable areas protected by the Door County Land Trust. Scattered across the county, you’re bound to be within a short distance to one of them. Take you camera and explore on your own of check the events calendar for guided hikes. This fall there is a hike that explores the fungi and mushrooms of the forest, a hike to identify the medicinal plants and a geology tour.
Just like the leaves, wildlife changes with the seasons - catch a peek at the migrating birds on a guided birding outing. Expect to find Tundra Swans, Wood Ducks, and Canada Geese soaring above the trees as they journey south for the winter. Or, skip the binoculars and find birds up close at the Open Door Bird Sanctuary.
Give your feet a rest and hop aboard a scenic guided tour. Go by trolley with the various narrated trolley tours offered by Door County Trolley, or go by boat, with the scenic tours offered out of various marinas. View lighthouses, bluffs, fall-colored rolling hills and, of course, enjoy being on the open water. Want something a little faster-paced? Try the smaller raft of the Door County Adventure Rafting tours.
Instead of sitting aboard, try taking a Segway for a glide! These unique tours can speed you along the trails and down the aisles of an orchard. Try a sunset tour for golden hour beauty or take a tour of Peninsula State park. Or finally, glide above the treetops to really see the spectacular beauty of the lake and land with a Grizzly Scenic Air Tour. The tours fly over shipwrecks and lighthouses and can be customized to your interests.
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