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Best Fall Color Drives, Hikes, & Rides


Door County is known as one of the best fall color destinations in the Midwest and sees scores of visitors in search of beautiful nature views during the autumn months. The leaves typically begin changing in late September up here, and the colorful display usually lasts for 2-3 weeks.

That means in the coming weeks, the leaves will begin to transform from verdant greens to bright golds, oranges, and reds, and everywhere from downtowns and highways to backroads and forest trails will take on entirely new looks. You can track Door County’s fall colors here.

Here’s how and where you can take in the harvest of fall color in Door County, whether you have an hour or an entire week to explore. 

Scenic Drives

From Fish Creek: Skyline Road
Begin your drive or ride at the Fish Creek entrance of Peninsula State Park and follow Shore Road. Be sure to look out for Weborg Point, a great place to stop for water views and fall color photos.

Hit the road again and take a right onto Skyline Road and stop at Sven’s Bluff, a famously gorgeous overlook featuring the tree-covered hill below, a vast expanse of Lake Michigan, and several islands in the distance. Continue following Skyline Road through the forested park to see a lighthouse and incredible views of the water, islands, and shoreline towns.

Overlooking the Lake Michigan shoreline in full fall color.

From Egg Harbor: Horseshoe Bay Drive to Sturgeon Bay
From downtown Egg Harbor, drive south on Horseshoe Bay Road and admire the leaves and trees along the highway. 

The route—which follows Horseshoe Bay Drive as it becomes Bay Shore Drive and eventually 3rd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay—also offers fantastic views of the bluffs, many rustic farms and barns, dramatic lake and nature vistas, and several county parks.

From Sturgeon Bay: Door County Coastal Byway
Beginning a little north of Sturgeon Bay where Highway 42 meets Highway 57, the Door County Coastal Byway is a picturesque 66-mile tour of the peninsula and many of its lighthouses, geographical features, and historic communities. 

At the meeting of the highways, continue north, weaving through color-saturated woods and dense tree-lined highway. In Sister Bay, the highways merge again and lead to the famously curvy Jens Jensen road and eventually end at Northport Pier, where you can take in great lake views and watch the ferries come and go. 

Follow the northernmost stretch of Highway 42 back down south; in Sister Bay, take the opposite side or highway so you get the full peninsula experience.

Woodsy Hikes

Door Bluff Headlands County Park
At the tip of the peninsula, near Gills Rock on the west side, is Door Bluff County Park, home to dense woods, diverse wildlife, views of Death’s Door, and wide-open vistas of lake, bluff, and sky.

There are a few trails at this park, some marked and some not, and all have some minor elevation changes and some rocky and uneven areas, so take extra care with footing and do a little research on trails and conditions before heading out.

Kangaroo Lake Nature Preserve
This 1.5-mile loop is a fairly easy hike with some inclines and rocky areas. In addition to the abundance of trees and forested areas, the hike features views of Kangaroo Lake itself, a spring-fed creek, bluffs and parts of the Niagara Escarpment, and birds and wildlife. The preserve is located just outside Baileys Harbor.

White Cliff Nature Preserve
This easy and flat 1.5-mile loop features wetlands, mature and diverse forests, and parts of the Niagara Escarpment. Find this trail between Egg Harbor and Juddville.

Bike Rides

From Baileys Harbor: County Q to Cana Island or Sister Bay
About a mile north of downtown Baileys Harbor, Highway 57 connects with Highway Q. Take Hwy. Q through the Mud Lake Wildlife Area, the stunning Moonlight Bay, and other forest and shoreline scenes. The route also offers a great detour at Cana Island. Follow the highway until it hits Ephraim for an approximately 9-mile one-way ride.

Three people ride bikes on a quiet tree-lined highway.

Newport State Park Bike Trails
Wisconsin’s only designated wilderness park, Newport State Park is tucked away in a small pocket along the Door peninsula’s rugged northeast shoreline. The park offers four bike trails totalling about 17 miles, all of which are perfect for admiring fall color as you ride or stopping for photographs along the way. 

Extend your fall-color tour by spending a night at one of the hike-in and bike-in wilderness campsites.

Washington Island
Hop the ferry with your bike and take in the water and island views from the deck. Trees cover nearly every shoreline, so vivid colors should be just about everywhere you look. Once on the island, board your bike (or rent one) and explore your pick of nearly 100 miles of semi-secluded backroads. 

The route from Detroit Harbor (peninsula side) to Jackson Harbor (Rock Island side) is about 16 miles, one way, and offers outstanding scenery along the way.


More Fall Color Resources

Use these tools to find fall color and take it all in, whether by car, by bike, by motorcycle, or by foot.

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