(BPT) - In the fall, Ely explodes with color. You may think we're mainly about the pines, and you'll certainly find a forest-full of those here. But we're also home to aspen, birch, ash, spruce and the king of fall colors, the majestic, fiery maple. Drive down any road, hike on any trail, and you'll be surrounded by the most breathtaking fall colors the Northland has to offer. It's a great time to visit, during the window of time when the forest dons its finest before settling into the muted beauty that envelops the landscape before the snow falls. Best time to come? That's up to Mother Nature, but you can usually count on September and early October as being the prime time. We tend to go full-on fall earlier than the Twin Cities, so keep that in mind.
Here are some insider recommendations of where to see fall colors that will take your breath away.
New Tomahawk Road
Take a short drive from Ely to Babbitt, which is about 17 miles down Highway 21. There, you'll hit New Tomahawk Road. You'll find the drive ablaze with color, and great views, too. Tomahawk Road isn't exactly a major thoroughfare, so make sure you have enough gas for the trip and also, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. You just might see a moose or a bear on your drive.
You can't find a prettier drive than this. It's 20 miles through the Superior National Forest to an entry point of the BWCAW. Bring your camera and prepare to be wowed.
Ed Shave Lake
This little-known gem is a short drive up the Echo Trail north of Ely. You can hike, bring a picnic to enjoy the shoreline, or best yet, hop into your canoe or kayak. From the water, you'll get the best views.
Picnic, anyone? This lake has a great spot on the north side to immerse yourself in Northwoods fall beauty. It's a 15-minute drive out of Ely.
On your way to Ojibway Lake, stop at the Glacier Ponds, which are off the Fernberg Trail. Forest Road 557 leads you to the ponds, and you can park there, too.
If you're visiting Ely in the fall, make sure to ask for fall color recommendations at the lodge where you're staying, or if you're camping, ask people in town at any of the outfitters or restaurants. Locals all have their favorite "secret" spots and will be happy to share them with you!