With leaves turning to gold and ruby red, and evening frosts morphing to morning fog, fall knits itself onto summer. Here are some of the best ways to enjoy the season, see its most spectacular scenery and get ready for winter. Go on the web to dnr.state.mn.us or exploreminnesota.com for fall color updates.
Follow Emerson, Thoreau (Sunday)
For this open-air performance at The Landing in Shakopee, the audience follows actors portraying poet-naturalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, near right, and Henry David Thoreau to four different park sites as they talk about the world around them in “Nature, A Walking Play” from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (threeriversparks.org)
Itasca celebrates history (Saturday)
Climb the fire tower at Itasca State Park for an eagle-eye view, take a bike ride or paddle along Lake Itasca, and stick around for evening activities at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. The park hosts a 30-minute half-mile, lantern-lit “Making Memories,” hike from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The group hike, which departs every 10 minutes, includes historical characters while the museum has ongoing music and children’s activities. (dnr.state.mn.us).
Paddle the St. Croix River and metro lakes
With trees reflecting in the water, get a double dose of fall beauty paddling tours organized by the REI Outdoor School and the Three Rivers Parks District. A multisport event along the St. Croix River from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday includes a paddle to William O’Brien State Park, a short hike, a float to the Marine Village Landing for lunch, and a bike ride (bit.ly/reipaddle). Send off September and begin October with a guided canoe tour of Lake Auburn to take in the fall colors from 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 1. Meet at Lowry Nature Center in Victoria. (threeriversparks.org)
Explore Whitewater caves (Oct. 1)
Visitors to Whitewater State Park east of Rochester can sign up to explore a small wild cave from 10 a.m. to noon. A second caving tour through the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program is offered from 1 to 3 p.m., with plenty of time for a fall color hike, too. Reservations, long pants and sturdy shoes are required.
Collect seeds for next season (Oct. 1)
As this year’s gardening season winds down, the University of Minnesota Arboretum class “Seed Collecting, Cleaning and Storing” shows how to harvest seeds from annuals, perennials and woody species. The class is from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A horticulturalist also explains how to help seeds thrive in home gardens to attract birds, bees and butterflies next summer.(arboretum.umn.edu)
Goodbye, summer; hello, winter (Oct. 1-2)
Wild Mountain offers half-price tickets for summer activities — alpine slide, Go-Karts and the Freefall XP two-story jump onto an inflatable — while prepping for winter. Its annual open house includes an equipment and gear swap for snowboarders and skiers. Look for additional gear swaps at Minnesota ski hills and through Nordic ski clubs. (wildmountain.com)
Bike for pie in Mankato (Oct. 9)
For a sweet incentive, bicyclists in the 26-mile Pie Run (there is no running involved) can savor one of the slices baked by the Rapidan Dam Store during the annual Mankato River Ramble. Bicyclists can also opt for an easy 12-mile Minneopa Falls loop, a 42-mile Lake Crystal route along county roads with a stop at Minnemishinona Falls, or tackle a hard-core 50-mile tour filled with challenging climbs in and out of river valleys. (bikeriverramble.org)
Twin Cities Marathon weekend (Oct. 8-9)
If ever there was a year to get out and cheer for runners and wheelers, this might be the one — the 35th running. Saturday events in St. Paul, too. (tcmevents.org)
Check out Lake Carlos colors (Oct. 8)
Learn Dutch oven cooking skills and butter-making, bob for apples, try archery and jump into leaf piles during the Fall Festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lake Carlos State Park in the rolling hills north of Alexandria, Minn. Leave time for a scenic drive or hike through the park, which should be at its fall color peak. (dnr.state.mn.us)
Learn rock balancing (Oct. 22)
Rock-balancing artist Peter Juhl demonstrates how to evaluate shape, weight and sizes of rounded ordinary stones that can be carefully balanced into shoreline or backyard sculptures. Morning and afternoon sessions are offered at the University of Minnesota Arboretum’s Bee and Pollination Discovery Center in Chaska. (arboretum.umn.edu)
Grab a guided walk (Nov. 5)
Take an hourlong stroll along the Mississippi River at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park while learning about the holes and homes animals have to keep them safe and warm as winter approaches. (threeriversparks.org)
Embrace storm season (Nov. 4-5)
Find out how powerful November weather can be at Lake Superior Maritime Museum Association’s annual Gales of November weekend in Duluth. Events include talks on the famed loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Great Lakes shipwrecks, lighthouses, and maritime stories (lsmma.com). If a storm rolls in, it may bring freshwater surfers.
Thanksgiving Day road runs (Nov. 24)
Turkey trots abound on the holiday across Minnesota. The Turkey Day 5-kilometer run will again hit the streets in Minneapolis. The event is intended as family event, meaning no judging: Runners AND walkers are welcomed. Get more information on the course and a link to register at turkeyday-5k.com. Of course, St. Paul has its own races Thanksgiving Day, too: a 10K and 6K running downtown. More information at turkeytrotsaintpaul.com. For a comprehensive list of races around Minnesota, go online to bit.ly/mnrun.
St. Cloud-based writer Lisa Meyers McClintick writes guidebooks and travel features for national publications. Find more information at 10000likes.com.