For the DNR, a colorful year is about to hit its peak.
In this, the state's 150th year of statehood, the DNR planned numerous events tying state parks to the sesquicentennial.
But none of them compare to what's currently going on at state parks - and across the state.
A greater power is at work here. Has been every year for 150 years - and long before - in these parts.
It's an event that's staged this time each year, give or take a week or two.
Autumn and the changing of the colors.
Fall colors were on display Wednesday near the overlook at Jay Cooke State Park, on Highway 210 near Carlton.
Brainerd Dispatch/Brian S. Peterson
Mother Nature is in charge, but the DNR has created a Web page to keep leaf chasers abreast of color conditions at their favorite state park.
"Minnesotans traditionally like to get out and hike, bike, camp or just take a scenic drive to enjoy the splendors of our fall colors," Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner, said when the page was unveiled earlier this month. "This new site provides a variety of information that helps them do just that."
Minnesota state park staff members update the fall color information every Thursday, just in time for the weekend. The site (www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_ colors/index.html) features a color-coded map that shows color conditions across the state. A "Hot picks" section highlights Minnesota state parks with the best fall colors, and reports detail the best viewing areas within each of the 72 state parks and recreation areas. Peak color percentage of leaves, flowers and grasses also are listed for each, and most are accompanied by photos.
The site also includes a photo gallery in which visitors may share their fall colors experience, a fall colors video and podcast and a link to Explore Minnesota on scenic drives and more.
Minnesota state park staff members update the fall color information every Thursday, just in time for the weekend. The site (www.dnr.state.mn.us/fall_ colors/index.html) features a color-coded map that shows color conditions across the state.
Reports on color conditions from area state parks as of Thursday:
Charles Lindbergh, Little Falls (leaf color 25-50 percent, flower and grass colors 50-75 percent): Trees in the picnic area and near adjacent trails are starting to show good color. The Hiking Club Trail passes through wooded and prairie areas, offering views of all the wildflowers in bloom. Nearly all trees are showing autumn color, with some brilliant reds, oranges and yellows among the Virginia creeper, maples and sumac. Anticipated leaf peak is early to mid-October.
Crow Wing, rural Brainerd (leaf color 10-25 percent, flower and grass colors 75-100 percent): Good places to view the color changes are at Chippewa Lookout at the boat landing, a 40-acre restored prairie site not far from the park office, the group camp road and hiking along the historic Red River Trail through the old town site of Crow Wing.
Cuyuna Country Recreation Area, Ironton (leaf color 10-25 percent, flower color past peak): The best place to view fall colors is at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area Overlook and along the Cuyuna Lakes State Trail.
Mille Lacs Kathio, Onamia (leaf color 50-75 percent, flower color past peak, grass color 75-100 percent): A great place to view fall colors is from the observation tower. The Kathio Landmark Trail, which runs along Ogechie Lake, also is a good place. And from a canoe on the Rum River. Black ash trees are past peak, mostly bare. Green ash trees peaked on Sept. 22-23 and will be slightly past peak by the weekend. Red maples will be at peak over the weekend. Sugar maples, basswood and birch will be at 30 percent over the weekend. Oaks and aspen are still mostly green.
BRIAN S. PETERSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864.
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