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Chasing Autumn: Fall Colors Start to Arrive in the Mendota Heights Area

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, starting Sept. 6, began updating fall color reports online for Minnesota state parks and recreation areas.

Editor’s Note: As an ode to fall, we encourage Mendota Heights Patch users to show off the images you have captured this fall and add them to the gallery on this post. Feel free to add any fall events and activities to the comments.

The leaves are beginning to change color here and there around the state, and staff at Minnesota state parks is keeping you in the know when it comes to all things fall.

Starting last week, Minnesota parks staff began posting fall color reports online, and will continue to update the website by noon every Thursday.

As in past years, these reports will include percent of color change, peak color projections, flowers and grasses in bloom, and three parks considered "hot picks" of the week.

The DNR also offers fall colors "to go" on a mobile website compatible with smart phones and tablets. The mobile fall color reports include percent of color change, integrated with Google maps.

"The fall colors are arriving right on schedule in northern Minnesota, and they're making their way south," said Jana Albers, forest health specialist for the DNR's Forestry Division. "We had a decent amount of rain in August across much of the state, and if the sunshine and cool nights continue in September, that's the ideal recipe for fall color. There are already splashes of color wherever you go, and it's only going to get better in the weeks to come."

When Do Fall Colors Peak?

* Colors typically peak in the northern third of Minnesota is between mid-September and early October.

* In the central third of the state colors typically peak between late September and early October.

* Color typically peaks here in the lower third of the state between late September and mid-October.

Chasing Autumn

Afton State Park’s leaf color is between 0 and 10 percent changed, flower color is past peak and grass color is between 50-75 percent to peak.

According to the Minnesota DNR: “The drive into the park along the tall grass prairie areas has the best color with the Big bluestem and Indian grass a golden brown. The views of the river valley are starting to show some color change.

With any wind you can see the tall grasses blowing like waves of brown. Some ash, cottonwood and boxelder are changing to yellow, and loosing their leaves. Some scattered maples are just starting to turn color.

A flock of 30+ turkey vultures was gathered on the beach, and more flocks of waterfowl are using the area.”

The leaf and grass color at Interstate State Park is between 0-10 percent changed; flower color is 10-25 percent changed.

The DNR suggests: “Hike the Sandstone Bluffs Trail or River Trail to see some currently blooming wildflowers, even right along the path. Trees are rather inviting at the North end of the park as well, with a spec of color here and there. Even near the parking lot and Visitor Center are some changing colors.”

The leaf, flower and grass colors at William O’Brien State Park are between 0-10 percent changed.

According to the DNR: “All park trails are open and in great condition. Cold nights and dry days have given us excellent hiking conditions (no mosquitoes!) throughout the summer and into the fall. Hike out to the Prairie Overlook trail to get to the highest point in the park. Tread quietly as the trail is a loop and there is an active beaver lodge in the center.

Leaf drop has been occurring throughout the park due to dry conditions. Though you may not see brilliant colors in the canopy or on the ground, the feel of Fall is definitely in the air and on the trail.”

This post will be updated with photos, events, and updated fall color reports, so check back for updated information.

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