A Michigan fall color schedule tells you when peak leaf-turning season arrives in different parts of the state, allowing you to schedule your vacation accordingly. The general rule is that the farther north you are, the earlier the leaves change. In northern Michigan, peak leaf-turning season is generally from mid-September to early October. If you're planning a trip to see the fall colors in the Ottawa National Forest, it's best to go during these dates.
From late September to mid-October, the leaves in the Hiawatha National Forest and around Mackinaw City start changing. This may go as far south as the Huron National Forest or the Manistee National Forest. Plan your trips to the northern part of the peninsula during this time.
Most of the southern parts of the state, which includes Grand Rapids, Lansing and Flint, see most of their colors from early- to mid-October. Along the shores of Lake Michigan and around the Detroit area, the leaves don't usually start changing until the middle of October. The lakefront areas on the northern peninsula are the exception to the "farther north you are" rule. One option is to plan a road trip starting at the northern part of Michigan in mid-September and finish in Detroit in the latter part of October.