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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Monday, March 25, 2019

9/21/2017 2:53:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Expect A Near Perfect Fall Leaf Season In Minnesota State Parks And Trails

By Deborah Locke

A mom and her daughter going for a run at Fort Snelling State Park which is near the airport.
Banning State Park
Looking into a crystal ball for answers to any question can be risky, especially when it comes to Minnesota weather. But your Minnesota Department of Natural Resources staff have been around for a pretty long time and feel confident with this prediction: Fall will be beautiful almost everywhere in Minnesota. So get out to your state parks with the kids and your cousins and your abuela and admire the rich, gorgeous leaf color.

We said "almost everywhere" because summer rainfall is a strong predictor of vivid leaf color. Less rain has fallen in the west central and northwestern parts of the state, and that could actually increase the color display - if a little rain should fall soon and ease drought conditions.

There's also a very good chance that south central and southeastern Minnesota will see an early fall, due to extra rainfall in July.

All of the above begs a seasonal question that we get often at the Department of Natural Resources. Just why do those leaves change color? Longer days and shorter bouts with sunshine as well as cooler nights trigger the color change. The most brilliant leaves you'll see show their hues after many warm and sunny days and cool nights.

Those shorter periods of daylight mean a closing off of the leaf veins that carry liquid sugar in and out of leaves. As a consequence, sugars in the leaf permit the red and purple colors to develop. You'll find purple-like and red pigments in the leaves of maple and oak, some varieties of ash, and tall shrubs like cherry, sumac and viburnum.

Yellow is always present in leaves all summer long, but the color is revealed when the green pigment in chlorophyll breaks down. The yellow leaves, found in ash, aspen, basswood, birch, cottonwood and elm, may be short in lifespan due to drought conditions. If it's dry, not as much sugar is produced so there isn't as much color.

To check out any of the above for yourself, do check out a state park! Find peak color on our online Fall Color Finder at mndnr.gov/fallcolor every Thursday starting Sepember 7. If you've never been to a state park, know that you'll find one within about 30 minutes of nearly every town and city in the state. Find you favorite at mndnr.gov/parkfinder.

As a general rule, colors typically peak between mid-September and early October in the northern third of Minnesota, between late September and early October in the central third of the state, and between late September and mid-October in the southern third, which includes the Twin Cities.

So throw a sweater over your shoulders and head for the great outdoors into a world of red and yellow.

St. Paul, MN



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