7 of the Best Places to See Fall Colors in Southeastern Wisconsin

fall colors in southeastern wisconsin

One of the best parts of fall is watching the foliage transform into vibrant colors adorning the countryside. It’s a stunning scene, as a sea of green gives way to an explosion of red, yellow, and orange. 

Although the process seems magical, it’s scientific. Fall colors develop as daylight wanes (causing a drop in chlorophyll production) and weather conditions change; as a result, leaves will turn an array of colors, including bright yellow, purple, red, brown, orange, and golden yellow. Although you can always watch this phenomenon happening from your windows, there are some spectacular spots to visit in Southeastern Wisconsin that are dazzling. 

To ensure you get the best colors possible, be sure to check the Fall Color Report before you go! It will give you the most up-to-date information regarding when the peak colors will be. 


Peak Foliage: October [at time of posting-3rd week of October per Fall Color Report]

Holy Hill is a popular color spot, allowing for tremendous views amidst stunning architecture. The church rests upon a hill created by a retreating glacier, 1,300 feet above sea level; however, for an even better birds-eye view, climb the steps to the tower. From this vantage point, you can see for miles and get an excellent view of the natural forest below. If you prefer to stay on the ground, there are plenty of trails nearby to see the colors up close. 

As this is a popular spot, you’ll want to time your visit right to ensure you can find a parking spot. It’s best to get there earlier in the day, as it usually is not quite as busy then. 



Peak Foliage: October [at time of posting-3rd week of October per Fall Color Report]

The Devil’s Lake area is said to glow with color each fall as its dense forests change colors. In addition, the lake offers some fantastic hiking trails for various skill levels; if you’re looking for a more tricky hike, try out the Balanced Rock trail. For those who want to enjoy the colors without hiking, picnic areas near the lake provide an excellent vantage to take in all the colors. 

Also, for those who want to enjoy the lake at the same time,  you can take out kayaks, paddleboards, or canoes. They do have some available for rent on-site if you don’t have any of your own; however, please note that gas motors are not allowed on the lake. 



Peak Foliage: October [at time of posting-3rd week of October per Fall Color Report]

Known for its charming downtown and family-friendly fun, Lake Geneva offers a sensational color display. There are a few different ways to enjoy the changing colors in the Lake Geneva area: 

  • Geneva Lake Shore Path: A 21-mile path around Geneva Lake, allowing you to view all the fantastic architecture of the lake homes amidst the fall colors. Please note that there is a variety of terrain throughout the path (grass, cement, stone, gravel), strollers are not recommended, and bikes/skates/skateboards/motorized vehicles are not permitted. 
  • Lake Cruises: If you haven’t already, you need to check out the Lake Geneva cruises, and what better time to do so than when the leaves are changing colors? Their website showcases all of their different cruises, and with so many options, you’re sure to find one that suits you.
  • Golf: With seven golf courses located nearby, you can enjoy the colors while teeing off on the course. 
  • Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy: Considered one of the best-kept secrets in Southeastern Wisconsin, this conservancy offers 231 acres of forests and prairie with a boardwalk. 
  • Lake Geneva Ziplines & Adventure: An excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with the changing colors on a zipline tour amidst the canopy. 
  • Dan Patch Stables: Get on the back of a trail horse and ride through the picturesque countryside. 



Peak Foliage: October [at time of posting-3rd week of October per Fall Color Report]

Located in Grant Park, the Seven Bridges Trail is a shorter trail in Milwaukee that offers an opportunity to see the changing colors near downtown. With ravines, bridges, and a trail end on the shore of Lake Michigan, this trail is a photographer’s dream. 



Peak Foliage: September [at time of posting-3rd week of September per Fall Color Report]

The highest point in Waukesha County, Lapham Peak, is an excellent area to view colors, with numerous hiking trails. If you want to get even higher, the observation tower offers a panoramic view of the surrounding cities & landscapes. 



Peak Foliage: October [at time of posting-approx. 1st to 3rd week of October per Fall Color Report]

The northern and southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest offer 50,000 acres of forest; enjoy it all on a 115-mile scenic drive through southeastern Wisconsin. There are places to shop, eat, fish, swim, and historical sites along the route. 

The route goes through six counties and is marked by green & white “acorn” signs. Check out the route here! 



Peak Foliage: October or November [at time of posting-3rd week of October or 1st week of November per Fall Color Report]

This area of Wisconsin is well-known for towering bluffs and narrow valleys, both of which can be seen at this state park. This state park also has two 40-foot observation towers on either side showcasing the views of the lower Wisconsin riverway, Baraboo bluffs, and the countryside. There are also trails for hiking and off-road biking.  

Only 25 miles from Madison, this 1,153-acre park is a great place to visit the forests & its convenient location allows for easy access to Madison’s thriving downtown. 


Fall colors certainly don’t last long in Wisconsin, so hit the road and check out the dazzling color displays this fall season before they are gone!



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