Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Tour Rice County for fabulous fall colors October 14, 2017

Kelly Lake, rural Faribault.


WHEN MINNESOTANS CONSIDER best places to see fall colors, they often think of the North Shore and Mississippi or Minnesota River towns. I doubt many think of Rice County.


Angling in Kelly Lake.


But we have some fantastic colors right here, right now, in this region an hour south of the Twin Cities metro.


I switched lenses for a closer view of the Kelly Lake angler and the stunning treeline.


Saturday morning, after picking up potatoes and zucchini at the Faribault Farmers’ Market, Randy and I headed north and west out of town on Minnesota State Highway 21 for a fall color tour. Our first turn took us off the highway headed for Kelly Lake. There we pulled into the public access off Kelly Lake Trail so I could snap a few photos in the beautiful mid-morning light.


A scene along 175th Street West on the way to French Lake.


Fishing French Lake.


A section of the French Lake shoreline ablaze in orange.


From there we drove toward French Lake, stopping at the public access along 177th St. West. I photographed more anglers fishing in the wind and cold. Already clouds were beginning to push in, greying the skies.


Near Roberds Lake.


Arriving a short while later at Roberds Lake, even heavier clouds settled in. We wished for sunshine to better showcase the fall colors, but realistically did not expect the veil of grey to lift.


Ableman’s Apple Creek Orchard is located at 5524 185th Street West. “Take a left by the smiley face near Roberds Lake” to find the orchard.





A turn onto 185th Street West yielded a surprise—Ableman’s Apple Creek Orchard. We stopped for a bulging bag of pie apples, chatting it up with friendly Diane who lives a mile down the road. Before we pulled back onto the highway, I admired the stone foundation on the mammoth orchard barn and photographed a stone still horse.



A clump of colorful woods southwest of Roberds Lake along Garfield Avenue required another stop on a gravel road.


Not much luck fishing Cedar Lake on this Saturday morning.




Eventually we reached Cedar Lake, where boaters were trying their luck—one had fished for three hours with only a single catch.




My eyes swept across the lake to the opposite shore and trees flaming red and orange between those still green.



As time raced toward noon, Randy steered the van back toward Faribault along Rice County Road 12. Swatches of colorful trees sweep along this stretch of roadway in the distance.



Eventually we ended up on Cedar Lake Boulevard before connecting with Roberds Lake Boulevard. There, at that intersection, a stunning maple flamed fire against the grey like an exclamation point at the end of our Rice County Fall Color Drive.


FYI: If you want to see the fall colors in Rice County, I wouldn’t wait. They likely will not be around for much longer.

Click here to read a previous post about places in eastern Rice County to view the fall colors.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


34 Responses to “Tour Rice County for fabulous fall colors”

  1. Great pictures, the awesome color I love fall but in the back of my mind old man winter has a mischievous smile on his face. At my age and health, I don’t have to go out into the cold so I give thanks for that.

  2. melirey96 Says:

    I love this time of year with all the leaves changing colors . Nice pictures of the lake. Thanks for sharing them with us.
    God bless!

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    Beautiful scenery! I will have to be happy looking at your splendor of color for a while… ours will be a few weeks behind. Hopefully this year we will have a stunning autumn display.

  4. Brenda Rosin Says:

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures from Rice Co.! I love the trees when most are still green with the pop of color from the Maples and Sumac. We like to take our convertible out cruising this time of the year on days that are warm enough to put the top down a few more times before tucking it away for the winter!! Our convertible group went through 6 counties a couple weeks ago enjoying the countryside!

    • What fun to take an open air drive through six counties. Let me guess: Nicollet, Blue Earth, Brown, maybe Waseca and Sibley counties?

      BTW, Lois passed along your “hi from your cousins” message. Thanks for thinking of me!

  5. Chris Drawert Says:

    Thank-you for giving me a glimpse of the beautiful fall I always enjoyed and now miss dearly.

  6. Neil Says:

    You’re right about the fall colors not being around for much longer. It’s one of the reasons we haven’t moved back north – autumn is far too short and winter far too long!

  7. Susan Ready Says:

    A lens of nature’s beauty at its finest. A kaleidoscope of autumn’s color -such loveliness. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Valerie Says:

    Looks like a wonderful fall color tour route. What fun!

    • We’e always enjoyed driving around the Faribault area lakes in the autumn. There are some great colors, too, in your area as you well know with Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Faribault has some fabulous colors, too, along many residential streets. And I love love love the view from City View Park in Faribault (near Trump’s Orchard).

  9. tonytomeo Says:

    Gee, palms and redwoods just don’t color like that. Even the maples and cottonwoods here turn only yellow. It is a nice bright yellow, but it is still just yellow. The only trees that get orange and red are exotics, like sweetgum, pistache and flowering pear.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    The colours are stunning and I love the image of the cart of apples. It all looks very peaceful and serene. I hope you get to enjoy Fall before the snow begins to fall xx

    • It’s good to hear from you, Charley. I’ll be outdoors a lot this week cleaning flowerbeds and raking leaves as autumn shifts toward the dreaded (in my opinion) winter. But for this week we will be enjoying sunshine and temps in the 60s and 70s. Glorious fall.

  11. Beth Ann Says:

    The colors are popping in your area for sure. We still are not at peak and our dryer weather is affecting the colors. We got some good rain last night but it will probably too late to help with the colors. We shall see. Enjoyed your photographs today especially the apples. Yum.

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    The stunning colors in these photos make me want to dye some fall colored yarns. I wish I had the same color sense as God’s paintings do. Beautiful thanks for sharing

  13. Jackie Says:

    Beautiful photo’s Audrey, Those colors are amazing! I still think some of the most beautiful fall colors are in the bluffs of SE Minnesota, near Chatfield, down into Lanesboro and Rushford. You have also shown that amazing colors exists all over the State. I LOVE the barn photo expecially the stone foundation!

  14. ravshanova Says:

    I love how you put so many fall pictures, the colors are great btw.

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