October is an amazing time to be in Minnesota. The fall colors, crisp mornings, crisp apples, apple crisp…. I’m getting off track. Anyway, October is full autumn bliss and nature’s kiss, get outside and enjoy this season while it’s still beautiful! Here is a compellation of Bucket List ideas to get you started.
North Shore Hikes
Yes, it is worth the drive. No, it’s not overrated. The North Shore really is one of the best places in Minnesota to see the fall colors. The trick is getting the timing right. Check the DNR website to help plan your trip to get the timing right. The last couple of weeks in September and the first couple of weeks in October are the best, but that peak can come and go quick. Here are some of the most scenic spots along the North Shore:
- Gooseberry Falls
- Split Rock Light House
- Temperance River
- Cascade River
- Grand Portage (you’ll basically be in Canada)
Northern State Parks
One doesn’t necessarily have to get all the way up to Two Harbors or Silver Bay to enjoy the fall colors. A shorter jaunt to some closer, yet still “north” State Parks can satisfy that autumn color craving. Here are few colorful suggestions:
- Jay Cooke State Park
- Mille Lacs Kathio (has a fire tower)
- Crow Wing
- St. Croix
- Charles A. Lindberg
Stay warm and cozy by the fire, have a gooey snack and maybe some hot chocolate, too. This is the perfect time of year for a bonfire and spooky stories with friends and family around the campfire. Break out the flannels, thermos, and your favorite campfire stories book.
Watch the moon phase calendar for the next full moon and go for a moonlit hike or visit a state park with a night time program. October is prime time for evening events at Minnesota State Parks. The Minnesota State Parks Events calendar is full of adventure.
- Geocaching The Spooky Edition- Jay Cooke (Oct. 13)
- Park After Dark- Jay Cooke (Oct 14)
- A Night Under the Stars-Lake Bemidji State Park (Oct 13)
- Astronomy & Star Gazing- Glacial Lakes (Oct. 20)
- “Who Cooks for Who?” Owl Chef- William O’Brien (Oct 20)
- Spooky Candlelight Hike- Lake Bemidji State Park (Oct. 28)
Colorful River Paddle
An all time favorite, enjoy the leaves from the seat of a canoe or kayak. The reflection the leaves give off from the water is mesmerizing. There is just something about the calm stroke a paddle causing gentle swirls in the water as the watercraft quietly passes. This is one of the most serene autumn experiences.
Tip: Always wear your life vest. Cooler water temperatures increase risk of hypothermia if you flip.
Visit a waterfall for a unique view of autumn leaves and cascading rivers. The North Shore is great for waterfall hikes but you don’t have to go that far north. Parks like Minneopa & Nerstrand Big Woods have waterfalls, the falls may be down to a trickle by fall, but they are still beautiful.
Southern MN Hike
When the leaves of the North Shore have already peaked, it’s time to head south. There are some beautiful parks in southern Minnesota with spectacular hikes! Here are a few suggestions:
- Minneopa State Park (Bonus: Bison & Waterfall)
- Whitewater State Park
- William O’Brien State Park (Riverside Trail)
- Interstate State Park
- Lake Maria State Park
Visit a pumpkin patch, Minnesota is loaded with them. Some have an excessive amount of kid friendly activities, others have a subtle autumn vibe about them. The later is my favorite. Find a sugar pumpkin to turn into a pie or bring home a premade pie. We enjoy the smaller pumpkin patches and avoid the crowds of the big attractions. For wholesome family fun and less chaos look for a simple patch that offers these few things.
- Pick Pumpkins
- Pick Apples
- Corn Maze
Bake Apple Crisp
Apple crips season, woohoo! Bake a warm apple crisp on a cool, crisp October evening. Go one step further and collect those apples from an orchard. Best fall scent is fresh apple cinnamon.
State Park Program
The Minnesota State Parks put on some pretty amazing programs throughout the year. Autumn is the perfect time to jump into one of these many programs. Many of them involve the night sky and the autumn change. Check out the Events Calendar for up to date events this fall.
Hike with Your Adventure Dog
Adventure dogs love fall colors too. Dogs love the new fall scents, cooler temperatures, and watching the squirrels scurry about preparing for winter. Get your dog out for some autumn hikes, Minnesota State Park trails are dog friendly. Check out Autumn Hiking Tips for Adventure Dogs.
Minnesota State Parks offer some pretty cozy accommodation. Many state parks have camper cabins. Some are all season, equipped with heat and perfect for an autumn getaway. Book ahead of time as these fill up fast. Reservations can be make at Minnesota State Parks and Trails website.
We stayed in at a Jay Cooke Camper Cabin last winter, it was so cozy and perfect for a cold weather get away! (Not dog friendly, bummer.)
Minnesota has 6564 rivers within it’s borders. If you don’t have a chance to paddle a river, hiking alongside one works too. The colors in this habitat cannot be beaten. The river gives trees clearance to show off their autumn schemes and the tranquility of flowing water adds magic to an ordinary hike.
Scenic Bike Ride
Cover more ground on a bike rather than on foot. There are several scenic bike paths that are former railroads. This makes the paths flat, paved and easy. The colors along these trails will be gorgeous in early October.
- Root River State Trail
- Cannon Valley Trail
- Willard Munger State Trail
- Heartland State Trail
- Paul Bunyan State Trail
However you enjoy the autumn season, make the most of October. Before you know it, November will be at out feet and our feet risk stepping in snow.