The contrasting evergreen and hardwood forests of Northeast Michigan are spectacular in autumn. The fall foliage promises to put on a brilliant show. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy a leisurely drive down the back roads, biking or hiking through Hartwick Pines State Park, or taking in the riverside colors while canoeing down the world famous AuSable and Manistee Rivers. Local canoe liveries are open, and the weather is still warm enough for a pleasant afternoon on the water.
For a scenic driving tour, from Grayling take the Four Mile Road Exit off I-75, turn left across the overpass, and then take Old. U.S. 27 south to North Higgins Lake Drive and turn left, which is east. Stay with North Higgins Lake Drive until you come to County Road 200, which will continue east. Follow this road until you come to S. Grayling Road where you will turn left and head north. Continue north until reaching Four Mile Road where you take a left and head west until reaching Military Road. At this point, turn right and follow Military Road until you reach M-93 and turn right. This will take you back to M-72 West where you turn right and head east back into Grayling.
Another beautiful viewing site is on Lake Margrethe, west of Grayling. Take M-72 West to McIntyres Landing Road and follow the state campground signs. This is a picnic area, boat launch and rustic state campground.
For other scenic drives through Crawford county, take M-93 to Hartwick Pines State Park. After touring the park, continue north until M-93 ends at County Road 612. Follow CO 612 west into Frederic. At the blinking light in Frederic, CO 612 jogs briefly to the south, with an immediate west run. From here, depending on the amount of time you want to spend, there are several possible routes. For “back road” driving, turn right onto Kolka Creek Rd., the first road west of Frederic. Follow Kolka Creek Rd. to Cameron Bridge Rd. then turn left onto North Manistee River Road. When you again reach 612, turn left and return to Frederic.
For a longer drive, with all the traveling on a main road, follow 612 west towards Kalkaska until you reach Mancelona Road. At that point 612 ends and you turn left onto Mancelona Rd. Follow it to M-72 and turn left, which is east, and continue back into Grayling.