EXPERIENCE FALL COLOR IN MASON CITY, IOWA
With the cooler temperatures of autumn comes one of nature’s most delightful annual events: fall foliage season. The green canopy of trees begins to transition to a dazzling display of vivid colors. Vibrant hues of red, orange and yellow brighten the harvest-brown landscape. Here in North Iowa, the estimated peak time for viewing the fall leaves is October 12-16.
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”
– Albert Camus
Leaves change color because cooler temperatures and shorter days cause them to stop producing chlorophyll, the natural chemical that makes leaves green. With the green pigment gone, the colorful pigments of other plant substances called carotenoids (yellows and oranges) and anthocyanins (reds) become visible.
So which leaves are which color? Typically, the walnut, elm, hickory, linden, birch, and oak trees turn brilliant shades of rust, green and yellow and often a combination of these. Dogwoods and sumac leaves display gorgeous red while maples and white ash leaves turn varied shades of red, orange, and purple at their peak leaf-change.
PRIME LEAF-PEEKING LOCATIONS
The 39-acre park is home to 400 trees and shrubs, including 70 different species of trees. Indulge in the beauty of the season while exploring the winding paved pathways throughout the arboretum.
Located in the heart of downtown, the towering trees of Central Park transform this 2.6-acre public square into an oasis of color.
Enjoy the beauty of the magnificent oak trees and flowering gardens while exploring the 2-mile trail system. Take in the view from the footbridge crossing the Winnebago River or the gazebo overlooking the duck pond.
Used for 90 years by the Brick and Tile Co. as a quarry area for the production of brick and clay tile products, Lester Milligan Park is home to two tree-surrounded fishing ponds – Pierce Pond and Big Blue. Nearly 2 miles of trails and a shelter house, Lester Milligan Park is a great spot for a fall hike or picnic.
Located along the north bank of Willow Creek and to the west of Parker’s Woods. The lime chip trail provides perfect opportunity to capture the beauty of the leaves reflected in the water.
Recognized as the largest collection of Prairie School-style homes surrounding a natural setting, the Rock Crest-Rock Glen Historic District is the first planned Prairie School development in America. Architectural masterpieces by Walter Burley Griffin, Barry Byrne, Marion Mahoney Griffin, William Drummond, and Einar Broaten can be seen on the Prairie School Architectural Walking Tour. The State Street Bridge overlooks Willow Creek and a beautiful waterfall. The Music Man Footbridge provides a colorful view (and photo op) as well as well.
“Go outdoors and look at the trees. See the specimens of the foliage and new ones springing up all the while. Go in a garden and watch the flowers. It is just one principle – the principle is the same in every one, but see the enormous variety.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright
3501 Lime Creek Road | Mason City, IA
Both woodland and prairie trails provide over nine miles of a variety of tree species with showy colors. A perfect place to explore on foot, bicycle or horseback.
15898 300th Street | Mason City, IA
Located along the Winnebago River, this 34-acre woodland provides a great opportunity for leaf-peeping and wildlife viewing.
22058 Vine Avenue | Mason City, IA
This woodland/marsh area located on the Shellrock River provides a hiking trail that loops through the colorful fall trees and diverse wildlife habitat.
21425 Vine Avenue | Rock Falls, IA
Located on the Shellrock River, this area provides viewing of trees, shrubs, and native prairie.
19316 Yucca Avenue | Rock Falls, IA
This four-mile stretch along the Shellrock River leads through woods, meadows, and ponds for a variety of colorful landscapes.
225th Street | Rockford, IA
This 56-acre forest contains a locally rare stand of hard maple/basswood timber which provides a stunning autumn show.
SUGGESTED FALL COLORS SCENIC DRIVE:
Start at the Lime Creek Nature Center just north of Mason City. From Lime Creek go north on Highway 65 to blacktop B-20. Go east on B-20 one-half mile to Spring Creek Preserve. Continue on B-20 to Rock Falls, then take S-62 north out of Rock Falls one mile to White Wildlife Area.
From White Wildlife Area go back south to Wilkinson Pioneer Park in Rock Falls.
Travel south through the park along the Shellrock River. After exiting the park, continue following the Shellrock River into the Shellrock River Greenbelt and Preserve. Follow this four-mile stretch south along the Shellrock River to Highway 122 just west of Nora Springs. Take Highway 122 east to blacktop S-70 and proceed south five miles, then take 225th Street west three miles to Claybanks Forest State Preserve.
From Claybanks Forest go east one-half mile to Wren Avenue and turn north, cross the Winnebago River, then go west on 230th Street for a scenic four-mile drive along the river to blacktop S-56 and Portland. From there take S-56 north back to Highway 122 and Mason City. This scenic drive will showcase some of Cerro Gordo County’s premier fall color viewing.