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Lake Vermilion Area Autumn Activities

Color your fall Vermilion!

Quiet, warm & sunny days lead to crisp, cool nights by the fire with the hint of wood smoke in the air. Changing leaves add to the beauty and serenity of Lake Vermilion. Many of our summer guests are amazed by the changes autumn brings.

It's an excellent time of year for hiking, biking, boating, and golfing.

And don't forget, some of the finest fishing of the year is in the fall!

A visit to Minnesota's Lake Vermilion in September or October is worth the trip - check our lodging specials page for discounted rates.

Scenic Drives

Some suggestions for fall color drives surrounding Lake Vermilion...

Color reports can be found beginning in mid-September

Northeast Minnesota fall color report Superior National Forest fall color report

  • Echo Trail (some gravel)

    From Cook, or the west end of the lake, travel north on Co Rd 24.  4 1/2 miles north of Buyck, turn right onto Co Rd 116 (Echo Trail). From Tower or the east end, travel east on St Hwy 169 through Ely.  1/2 mile east of Ely, turn left (north) onto Co Rd 88 (Grant McMahon Blvd) travel 2 1/2 miles and turn left onto Co Rd 116 (Echo Trail). The Echo Trail winds its way through the Superior National Forest and is bordered on both sides by the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness.  For a side trip, you can travel north on Co Rd 24 to Crane Lake for a visit to the Vermilion Falls and/or Vermilion Gorge.
  • Over the Laurentian Divide (some gravel)

    From Tower, take State Hwy 135 22 miles south to Aurora. You will cross over the Laurentian Divide - the US Forest Service calls this road "fall color fantasy land"! At Aurora, continue on 135 to the right for 2 1/2 miles to Co Rd 138 (Tower-Biwabik Rd).  Turn right toward Giant's Ridge. You can ride the chair lifts at Giant's Ridge for panaromic, unrestricted view of the Divide.  Continue north on 138 for a total of about 9 miles.  Turn right onto Co Rd 21 for about 2 miles.  That will bring you back to State Hwy 135 where you will turn left to return to Tower.

  • Pfeiffer Lake Picnic (some gravel)

    From Cook, travel south on US 53/MN 1.  Continue on US 1 where it turns left.From Tower, travel south on State Hwy 169/MN 1.  Continue on US 1 where it turns right.  The road to Pfeiffer Lake is located about 9 miles from US 53 and 4 1/2 miles from Hwy 169.  The Pfeiffer Lake recreation area has a picnic ground.  There are many choices of roads that will take you through the forest and back to US 53, Hwy 169, or Co Rd 115/77 which runs between Cook and Tower along the south shore of Lake Vermilion.  Pick up a St. Louis County or Minnesota map and go exploring!
  • Big Aspen Recreation Area

    21 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking or ATV riding.  From Cook, travel south on US 53 for about 10 miles.  Fron Tower, travel west to US 53/MN 1 on one of several roads: Co Rd 77/115, US 53/MN 1, or Co Rd 68.  The Big Aspen Trail Recreation Area is located just to the east of US 53 off of Co Rd 68.  Turn north on Co Rd 405 and follow the signs to one of the parking areas.  For a downloadable pdf, click here: Big Aspen Trails
  • For longer, all day trips:

    The Superior National Forest scenic byway will take you 54-miles from the Iron Range (just south of Lake Vermilion) to the North Shore of Lake Superior. You can spend some time on the Shore and complete the circle by traveling State Hwy 1 through Ely. Driving from Tower to Hoyt Lakes, to Silver Bay and back to Tower through Ely will take around 4 hours. Find more information on the Scenic Byway here: Superior National Forest Scenic Byway

    The Discovery Tours follow the Echo Trail route and Vermilion Falls/Gorge routes mentioned under "Echo Trail", but adds interpretative stops. Discovery Tour books can be purchased for $3 at the US Forest Service offices at the LaCroix Ranger Station in Cook and the Kawishiwi Ranger Station in Ely. Some resorts also have them available to purchase or borrow. Click here for more information: Discovery Tour

    The Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway is a 47-mile trip from Grand Rapids to Effie. Total travel time to do a circle route from Cook is about 3 and 1/2 hours. Here is a link to a pdf with information and a map of the Scenic Byway: Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway

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