There will be no century rides, no harvest fests, no Pumpkin Patch in Egg Harbor and — for the first time in 75 years — no Fall Festival in Sister Bay. But the best autumn show in Door County will continue its uninterrupted run: The fall color season will go on.
Although we can’t tell you exactly when the autumnal colors will peak (they usually pop most dramatically in mid-October), we can give you tips on a few of the best fall color drives.
You’ll find detailed route maps at DoorCountyPulse.com/fallcolordrives.
1. Skyline Road, Fish Creek
Peninsula State Park absolutely has to be 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. Along the route, you’ll get to see the village drenched in the colors of the bluff, climb to Sven’s Bluff for a view of the shoreline and islands, and get 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 Highway 42 and continue 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.
2. Kangaroo Lake Circle, Baileys Harbor
Hit this route in the early morning or during the magic hour to make the most of fall’s orange glow.
Start in Baileys Harbor, and head west out of town on County F. You’ll likely pass cows in the pasture at Gray-Aire Dairy Farm, then continue for about a mile until you hit Highland Road. Continue straight to High Plateau Road, where you’ll turn left and soon discover one of the county’s great under-the-radar backroad overlooks as the colorful valley surrounding Peil Creek opens up before you.
Take County EE to North Maple, which becomes Logerquist Road and takes you south past Waseda Farms and the old Logerquist Barn, of which you’ll no doubt want to snap a photo.
Turn around, head back up Logerquist Road, and take a right on Fairview Road, then a left on West Kangaroo Lake Road to County E. Turn right, and you’ll hit the causeway over Kangaroo Lake and see the surrounding natural area open up before you.
Turn left on Red Cherry, passing a beautiful, protected Door County Land Trust property to your west. Then turn right on Bluff Road to ride through the wooded canopy until you’re back in Baileys Harbor, with water views greeting your return to town.
3. Horseshoe Bay Drive, Egg Harbor to Sturgeon Bay
From the center of Egg Harbor, head south on Horseshoe Bay Road to pass color views at Alpine Golf Course beneath the bluff. About three miles outside of the village, a field will open up before you, providing breathtaking views of the bluff and the beautiful, historical barns of Horseshoe Bay Farms.
Continue south, weaving along the shore to Sturgeon Bay, to find dramatic views of Bay Shore Blufflands Nature Preserve just south of the long-dormant Chateau Hutter resort. Soon you’ll pass water views of George Pinney County Park, and from there, continue on into Sturgeon Bay.
The road will take you straight to historic 3rd Avenue, or take a left on Delaware Street and head into the rural countryside of Sevastopol Township to return to Egg Harbor through the picturesque countryside.
4. Tip of the Thumb to Washington Island
Head north of Sister Bay to drive through the canopy of color on Beach Road. 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.
Then continue north on Highway 42 to catch another dramatic view at the Grand View Overlook atop the Ellison Bay hill before passing through the village and turning left on Garrett Bay Road.
This route will take you past Jens Jensen’s famed learning center, The Clearing. Then wind along the shoreline into Gills Rock and all the way to the Northport Ferry and one of Wisconsin’s most famous photo ops: the “winding road.”
If you can’t take the ferry to Washington Island, head back to Timberline Road and take it south toward Newport State Park. Following this route will provide great views off Lakeview Road — a peak at the head of the Mink River Estuary on peaceful Rowleys Bay — before finally heading down Waters End Road. End your ride with a warm beverage at one of the outdoor beer gardens of Sister Bay.
The colors of fall leaves can help you to identify tree species. Here are a few to watch for:
• Oaks: red, brown or russet
• Hickories: golden bronze
• Dogwoods: purple-red
• Birches: bright yellow
• Poplars: golden yellow
• Maples show a range of colors: Sugar maples are orange-red; black maples are glowing yellow; and red maples are bright scarlet.