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Fall Fun in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

Detroit Lakes: Add Color to Your Life

Looking to add color to your life? The Detroit Lakes area offers a satisfying menu of Minnesota autumn colors. It’s not just the trees that turn into rainbow hues. Color starts from the ground up in the tallgrass prairie with crimson sumac, rusty big bluestem grass and purple asters. Add the golds, oranges and reds from the hardwood maple and oak trees accented by the forest green conifers for a complete color palette — complements of Mother Nature.

That’s just the backdrop. It’s up to you how you want to enjoy it with an abundance of opportunities around the Detroit Lakes area. Get a refreshing sample of the Minnesota nature experience in Detroit Lakes by viewing the Autumn Video. Get the latest updates on peak colors, expected in late September to early October.
By Road, By Trail, By Foot
- Load up the van with the kids, polish up that restored Mustang or get the motorcycle out for one last spin to take a driving tour. Head west on Highway 34 from Detroit Lakes to hit the 88-mile Lake Country Scenic Byway that goes all the way to Walker, with a side jaunt to Itasca State Park on Highway 71. Dips and curves between Snellman and Osage and through the Smoky Hills State Forest offer expansive views of color on the gentle hilly terrain, with patches of blue lakes.
- Plan trips early-to mid-season to capture the color of mixed deciduous trees south of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59 on a trip to Maplewood State Park or north to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Make a circle north to Itasca State Park for mid-to late-season colors in the park’s mixed forest and along lakes to the west. Color is everywhere, no matter which direction you go from Detroit Lakes.
- For a closer encounter, get out of the car and hit the trails with a mountain bike on trails for a variety of skill levels at Detroit Mountain Recreation Area and Maplelag Resort.  For a motorized version, ride an ATV or OHV in Becker County’s three state forests — Smoky Hills, Two Inlets and White Earth — with roads and minimum maintenance trails open to motorized recreation. Watch for grouse, deer and other forest critters.
Folks interested in a quieter experience to enjoy fall find plenty of hiking venues all around Detroit Lakes.
- Discover nature right on the edge of the city, just 3/10 of a mile south of Highway 10 on 290th Avenue, and take an easy stroll on a handicap-accessible, asphalt half mile trail through the Sucker Creek Preserve, which recently expanded to 117 acres with the opening of Upstream Sucker Creek. Get off the pavement and on the trails to stroll past a trout stream and take marsh walks while learning about the flora and fauna through interpretive signs.
- Head 3 miles south of Detroit Lakes to the 53-acre Dunton Locks County Park for another mile-long paved trail as well as 6.1 km (about 4 miles) of hiking and mountain biking trails along the shores of Lake Sallie Muskrat Lake. Besides enjoying nature, take time to read the interpretive signs and seek out the remnants of Indian burial mounds throughout the park.
- The Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District office is just 3 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes. The District encompasses about 6,000 square miles in Becker, Clay, Mahnomen, Norman and Polk counties. About 3,200 acres of the 42,000 acres are native prairie remnants interspersed with prairie pothole wetlands so expect to see plenty of waterfowl and wildlife. Take the 1.9-mile Headquarters Trail or plan a longer hike on Minnesota’s first birding trail. One of the sites on the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail is located at the Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District. With 45 sites in 200 miles from Fergus Falls to the northern Minnesota border there are plenty of bird viewing opportunities. In the fall, you are sure to see flocks of migrating birds.
- About 4 miles east of Detroit Lakes is Detroit Mountain with miles of hiking (shared with mountain bikers). To top it off — and rest your legs — enjoy a chair lift ride to the top of the mountain for a spectacular view on Saturdays and Sundays through October 7, 2018 from 9 am-4:30 pm.
- Head northeast of Detroit Lakes 18 miles to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. The Old Indian Hiking Trail winds through 1.5 miles of forest, plus roads and trails in the 43,000-acre sanctuary are open for hiking (snowshoeing) September through February and Visitor Use Area trails are open year round.
- About 60 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail, the nation's longest hiking trail, run through Becker County from Frazee to Itasca State Park. The route offers a primitive backcountry hiking experience. Trailheads are located at Hubbel Pond on Hwy 34 east of Detroit Lakes, Pine Lake, 400th Avenue within Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, County Road 35 within Greenwater Lake Scientific and Natural Area, Elbow Lake Road, State Hwy 113 in Itasca State Park and Lion's Park in Frazee. The Laurentian Lakes Chapter with members offer family-friendly guided hikes during the autumn season as well as other seasons. Find directions and details at
Fish For Big And Small
With cooler temperatures and less humidity, fall is perfect to hit any of the 400+ lakes in the Detroit Lakes area to cast a fishing line. Cooler temps mean cooler water and more hungry fish after your hook. Successful fishermen report catching muskies longer than 50-inches on “area lakes.” But if you are happy with active panfish angling, or bass and northern pike action, Detroit Lakes’ lakes offer that too.
Tee Up
Nights may be chilly, but fall days are perfect for hitting the greens. Get in those last swings of the season at eight Minnesota golf courses in and around Detroit Lakes. Reasonable rates and easy booking will get you on the courses faster and more often. Plan to make the rounds on several of the courses and take time to enjoy autumn’s ever-changing hues and skies filled with honking geese flying south.
Retreat To The Resorts
Summer may be over, but resort season isn’t. Book now for special off-season prices and choose your level of comfort. From rustic to luxury resorts to hotels, motels and campgrounds Detroit Lakes has them all. Take a quick dip in the lake, sit by the campfire and gaze at the stars to fully discover the nature experience at the lakes!