2017-09-21 / Front Page

Summer greets Color Tour season

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff

The reds and oranges of fall are starting to pop and while it may be too soon for a color tour, with temperatures set to soar into the upper 80s, this weekend just may be summer’s last hurrah.

“To me fall is the best time to visit the Leelanau Peninsula,” said Lorri Hathaway, executive director of the Leelanau Wine Trail. “It’s just so gorgeous.”

It’s hard to believe while taking a Lake Michigan swim, but the start of fall actually begins Friday with the autumnal equinox.

Hathaway said the warm weather may stop or slow down the progress of changing colors.

“But the heat that is coming through is very good for the vineyards,” Hathaway added.

Kama Ross, district forester for Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse counties, says that trees that are turning a little early, may be trying to conserve some energy.

“My observation is that it’s just about the same time as always, give or take a little bit,” Ross said. “There definitely always are those early trees, which are the ones that are shouting out to us that they’re under stress.”

Those trees along the sides of roads, for instance, are stressed because of the compaction of their roots under the road beds and are not getting enough oxygen or moisture. They have also been subjected to road salt, which is not good for them.

A tree in your yard that is turning color early may be giving its owner a signal that it needs a little TLC — a shot of fertilizer or some extra water come spring, Ross said.

But for those who just want to overload their senses with beautiful colors, Leelanau is definitely the place to do that.

“Fall is a great time of year for the vineyards and the color tours,” Hathaway said. And there are lots of events planned by vintners that take advantage of both, she said. Join the Leelanau Loop Adventure by taking a self-guided tour of the Wine Trail, which has 22 wineries and several internationally-acclaimed varietals.

“Fall is a great time to visit the Leelanau Peninsula,” said Matt Gregory, president of the Leelanau Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. “The wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries are hopping, the landscape has beautiful fall colors, and there are a lot of fun events.

“Empire has a cool Hops Festival ... The fall harvest brings great fresh produce to the many farmers markets. Fall is also a great time to jump on one of our many great hiking and biking trails or visit the dunes and soak in the views or just tour around the peninsula for shopping and dining.”

The Chamber, which recently moved from the Thunderbird building in Lake Leelanau to Leelanau Studios at the corner of Cherry Bend Road and M-22 in Elmwood Township, is in the process of moving from mailing information out to potential visitors to offering that information digitally — which is what most people now want, Hathaway said.

For those who aren’t ready for color and just want to get a little more beach time in, Leelanau is offering up the perfect weekend for that.

“It looks like spots could top 86 and 87 and then it’ll be just a little cooler on Saturday, depending on where you’re at,” said Tim Locker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Those heading to the beach on Saturday could see temperatures in the upper 70s, while those who stay inland could see the lower 80s, Locker said. “It’s still going to feel like the mid to upper 80s due to a little more humid weather,” Locker said.

The same weekend last year saw temps in the mid 70s on Friday — which are more like normal — a high of 72 on Saturday, and 67 degrees on Sunday.

This weekend’s temps also just might break some unofficial records recorded by the National Weather Service spotter in Maple City.

The record for Friday is 81 degrees set in 2004. For Saturday that record is 86 degrees set in 2007 and for Sunday, 86 degrees set in 2004.

Return to top