Fall In Wisconsin Passes With Flying Colors

Bountiful pumpkin harvest at edge of field When it comes to fall color, Wisconsin offers some of the best in the country-the state's millions of acres of woodlands erupt in brilliant hues. Plus, there are many great ways to experience the season. Color seekers can drive picturesque roads or soak up the scenery biking or hiking. It's also the season of harvest festivals and fall migration.

Wisconsin's color odyssey lasts six to eight weeks, with peak "colorama" traveling from the north beginning in mid-September and moving to the south in late October and into early November.

Scenic Roads and Trails

The Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin provides spectacular fall scenery. Giant hemlocks and maples burst with color. Bright yellow, red, orange, bronze and golden leafed trees line most roads and trails. The forest's rolling hills, sparkling lakes and rivers are alive with loons, bald eagles and thousands of song birds. The Great Divide Scenic Byway, a striking 29-mile route on Highway 77, takes motorists through the heart of the forest from Hayward to Glidden. The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) trail system is one of the best in the country, with more than 300 miles of terrain ranging from flat to hilly and easy to difficult.

In east-central Wisconsin, Door County, the state's "thumb" extending into Lake Michigan, offers visitors more miles of shoreline, state parks and lighthouses than any other county in the United States. Fall color provides a brilliant backdrop for the area's coastal towns, sandy beaches, bluffs and woodlands. Observation decks at Peninsula State Park and Potawatomi State Park provide fantastic views.

Known locally as "The Everglades of the North," Horicon Marsh's 31,000 acres of cattails and duckweed are an October stop for some 250,000 migrating Canada geese. The best auto tour is the 36-mile Wild Goose Parkway. For hikers and bikers, the 34-mile Wild Goose State Trail skirts the western edge of the marsh. Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area, a wetland complex near Horicon Marsh, also provides excellent early morning and dusk viewing of migrating waterfowl.

The Fruits of Autumn

In northern Wisconsin, Bayfield's Applefest, Oct. 5-6, attracts 40,000-60,000 people annually. Gourmet apple pies, strudels and frosted apple cuts, sundaes, cider, cheese pie and fresh apples are available up and down the streets. Every Bayfield-area orchard sets up a stand to sell apple products, with more than 11 varieties of apples used in all sorts of delectables. Fair goers can also enjoy, and participate in, a variety of contests including apple peeling (one year, a 311-inch peel from a single apple stole the show), apple pie and apple cider-making, and hula hoop and limbo competitions for kids.

The 25-year-old Farmers Market on Capitol Square in southern Wisconsin's Madison is the largest farmers market in the Midwest and offers a wide variety of farm products, prepared foods and free entertainment Saturday mornings May through October from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For peak color reports and free Wisconsin travel guides, including the Fall Sampler and Calendar of Events, call 1-800-432-TRIP/8747. Wisconsin travel information, including fall color reports, is also located on the state's Internet site at http://www.travelwisconsin.com. (NAPSI)

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