10/07/2011 05:42 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2011

Michigan Fall Foliage: A MapQuest Guide

Michigan fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The autumnal changing colors of leaves is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing Michigan fall foliage. — Staff

The Tunnel of Trees

The Tunnel of Trees is named for the broad-leaf canopy of trees that line the narrow strip of Highway 119 on both sides, from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. Visitors can marvel at the changing leaves of the area's maple, birch and oak trees. Interestingly, the road, which hugs the upper reaches of Lake Michigan has no centerline but, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation, safety concerns are minimal, as the "M-119 is not a road for those in a hurry.” Visitors are encouraged to cruise along and enjoy the scenic northern Michigan Heritage Route at their own pace. Make sure to stop just an eyelash north of Harbor Springs at Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, which local legend has it is home to an "elusive water spirit."

6696 Lower Shore Drive, Harbor Springs, MI | Get Directions

Ludington State Park

Whether from the vantage points of the sand dunes or the low marshlands, visitors to Ludington State Park have 5,300 acres to take in beautiful Michigan fall foliage. The park boasts six miles of shoreline on either side, thanks to its prime location between Lake Michigan and Hamlin Lake. Visitors looking to see the changing maple leaves up close can do so while hiking or biking on one of its eight scenic trails.

North M 116 Ludington, MI 49431 | Get Directions

Belle Isle Park

Visitors looking for enchanting Michigan fall foliage will find heaven in Detroit’s Belle Isle Park. The 982-acre island park -- accessible by bridge over the Detroit River from the city -- is home to sweeping views of both Motor City and Windsor, Ontario. Leaf seekers will appreciate the many species of trees, which include the pumpkin ash, swamp white oak, Drummond's dogwood, shumard oak and shellbark hickory trees. Visitors can see the island turn from lush, vibrant green to warm, golden oranges, reds and yellows as they hike and bike the trails, walk the paths and beaches or drive the park’s paved streets.

Belle Isle Park Picnic Way Detroit, MI 48207 | Get Directions

Tunnel of Trees in the autumn, driving along Lake Michigan. (Part three of a four-part series.)

Did we miss a Michigan fall-foliage spot? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Want other great fall-foliage destinations? Check out more LeafQuest.

LeafQuest Special: Read ex-Navy SEAL team leader Chuck Pfarrer's take on Michigan foliage.

Interested in more stories about Michigan? Go to Patch and scroll the list of states to get great local coverage of your neighborhood.