Northern Minnesota remains the most popular autumn destination in the Midwest thanks to our region’s diverse forestry, thriving flora, and majestic wildlife. Every autumn, “leaf peepers” from Southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas flock into the lush wilderness that encircles Big Sandy Lake to observe some of the most vibrant fall foliage in the country. The backwoods near Big Sandy Lodge & Resort, located in McGregor, MN, feature particularly stunning Northern Minnesota fall colors. You’ll observe a heartwarming meld of crimson, amber, marigold, and kelly green as you venture along backcountry roads, peaceful hiking trails, and serene lakes. Before departure, make sure to consult the always up-to-date Minnesota fall color map, which is collated by the Department of Natural Resources.

A Classic Northern Minnesota Drive

Whether you’re visiting us from the Twin Cities, rural Wisconsin, or right here in Aitkin County, we highly recommend packing the family into the car for a classic, colorful Northern Minnesota drive. The glory of our landscape is that all you need is a map and a little intuition—you’ll be surrounded by quintessential Northern Minnesota fall colors regardless of which route you take. We’re partial to northbound Lake Avenue (County Highway 14) as it meanders past the Prairie River and up into the heart of Savanna Portage State Park.

Scenic Hiking Trails

Minnesota Fall ColorsYes, there are countless scenic drives in Minnesota near Big Sandy Lake, Lake Minnewawa, and even Mille Lacs Lake, but don’t forget to pack your trusty hiking boots this fall. While it’s certainly debatable, we truly believe that some of the best fall colors in Minnesota lie inside Savanna Portage State Park. A visit to Savanna Portage is an absolute must, regardless of the season. This helpful trail guide outlines all of the state park’s hiking options, including the wondrous 5.3-mile Continental Divide loop. Not only does this reasonably flat trail wind through a towering, vivid hardwood forest, but you’ll also discover the exact spot where the water divides and eventually leads to the St. Louis and Mississippi rivers. Not all trails inside the Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge feature lush hardwoods, but the thriving wildlife (mainly birds) make this preserve worth a one or two-hour pit stop.

A Self-Guided Fall Color Tour in Minnesota

It goes without saying that some of the most vibrant Northern Minnesota fall colors can be found right here along Big Sandy Lake. During September, October, and select dates in November, guests rent our inexpensive equipment (such as a kayak, canoe, or pontoon) to explore this 6,500-acre lake. We encourage all guests to bring their own paddling, fishing, and boating equipment as our rentals go fast! As far as we’re concerned, some of our favorite peak fall colors in Minnesota border Big Sandy Lake—the blend of white pine, conifers, maple, birch, and oak give the calm water a bright glow. To learn more about our lakeside haven, please read up about nearby hiking trails, fall fishing, and top-rated golf courses. Once you’re ready to book, please give us a call at 218-426-5040.