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.
But we have some fantastic colors right here, right now, in this region an hour south of the Twin Cities metro.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling