The hills of Southeastern Minnesota are awash in the fading hues of fall, and it seems like the autumn color show might be over. But while the rest of Minnesota is winding down its fall color display, there are places around Winona where the blaze of color is just getting started.
In fact, the weather this year – at least in Winona – has ben the perfect concoction of rain and sun and temperature, because bluffs are STILL hanging onto their bright yellows and oranges, making them a beautiful site from anywhere in town. But even when those are gone, Winona’s beautiful secret is that the under-brush of our bluffs and valleys turns incredible shades of sunshine yellow, but you’d never know it unless you got out and took a walk. So if you need some fresh air and are still holding onto autumn in your heart, check us out. Here is a list of the top three places to catch some late October fall colors around Southeast Minnesota.
3. Great River Bluffs State Park
Located 15 minutes south of Winona, the Great River Bluffs State Park is perched high atop the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley, and it provides year-round fun for those seeking out the best hiking and biking trails in Minnesota. It’s trails snake all over the bluffs in that area, but don’t miss the lookouts at the top where the view can take your breath away. In the late fall, its hardwood forests turn shades of gold, making for a pretty walk in the crisp autumn air.
2. Prairie Island Road
Skirting the Mississippi River just outside of Winona, Prairie Island Road hangs onto its fall display as the layers of underbrush take turns shifting from green to yellow. As an added bonus, the road offers many vantage points for seeing the spectacular bird migration moving through the Mississippi River Flyway, and it has two public parks with playgrounds and a deer park where you can pause to enjoy a bit of autumn sunshine.
1. Holzinger Trails
Perhaps Winona’s best fall-color secret, the trails that criss-cross the bluffs behind Holzinger Lodge have just turned a breathtaking gold, and hiking or biking them in late October is mesmerizing. Because they are tucked beneath a hardwood forest that has already faded some, the glowing yellow hues of these trails isn’t apparent from the road – it’s not until you set off on them that you can see their full glory. For the best viewing, pick a sunny morning or early afternoon when the sun is dappling through the trees overhead and giving the entire hillside the Midas touch of a golden glow.