Fall head over heels with Ontario’s fall colours!
Autumn is a pretty word, fitting for such a pretty season. This year, in my humble opinion, it came much too quickly. “Fall” seems like the more appropriate term, since fall denotes a sudden descent, in this case, the descent into a long, cold, Canadian winter. A closetful of new scarves, leather boots and pea coats, which my girlfriends look forward to sporting with great excitement, is no consolation for me.
So what am I doing to lift my downtrodden, summer-lovin’ spirits? Making plans to admire autumn in Ontario. All over the province, Mother Nature is serving up a stunning smorgasbord of seasonal colours. I’ve compiled this short list of the best places in Ontario to admire trees in their crowning glories, before Old Man Winter makes them bald! Here are my top five places to admire fall colours in Ontario:
1. Algonquin Provincial Park
Autumn in Algonquin, Canada’s oldest national park, is breathtaking (and you’ll want to take as many deep breaths as you can, with this fresh air.) The endless foliage in colourful clusters changes like a kaleidoscope: from mid-Sept to mid-Oct, the Sugar and Red Maples put on their visual spectacle, followed by a beautiful performance by Red Oaks, Aspens and Tamaracks in October. Algonquin Park is where the northern coniferous forest and southern deciduous forest unite; during the fall they meet in an explosive kiss of colours. Speaking of puckering up, if you’re looking for a romantically rugged getaway, Algonquin is perfect.
2. Niagara Parkway
This scenic road in Southern Ontario is one of the province’s oldest. It begins at Fort Erie, close to the Peace Bridge, crosses the Niagara Peninsula, past Niagara Falls’ upper rapids and Horseshoe Falls (the wondrous Canadian-side falls) and wraps around the Whirlpool Rapids. The road curves and swerves, with beauty at practically every turn. As you drive down the Niagara Escarpment, a spectrum of autumn colours awaits. There are plenty of places of interest to stop along the way during this picturesque road trip, ending in Niagara-On-The-Lake, one of Canada’s largest wine producers. This grand finale is worth exploring, from charming bed and breakfasts, luxury spas and of course, vineyards and wine tastings set amongst the intoxicating beauty of fall colours. (Inside nod to fellow Torontonians—if you can’t make it outside the big smoke, another Parkway—the Don Valley—also puts on a smaller-scale, yet lovely, display!)
3. Bruce Trail
Lace up your hiking boots and lose yourself in natural splendour along the Bruce Trail. Meandering through Southern and Central Ontario, this hiking trail is an excellent way to admire the changing foliage. Tobermory gives you a wonderful vantage point, as does Lion’s Head and up along the Bruce Peninsula. Mother Nature is in her seasonal finery here as she models her fall collection.
4. Agawa Canyon
Created 1.2 billion years ago as the Canadian Shield faulted, this shallow canyon encompasses the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Forest Region and the Boreal Forest, Canada’s second largest and largest forest regions, respectively. This offers an interesting combination of trees to take in. The canyon is located in Sault Ste Marie, northern Ontario. The best way to view the autumn colours is aboard the Agawa Canyon Train Tour on the Algoma Central Railway. The Agawa Canyon Wildlife Park is only accessible by railway or by hiking and offers sweeping panoramas of brightly coloured leaves, waterfalls and wildlife sightings. You won’t beleaf your eyes!
5. Prince Edward County
Less than a two hour drive from the big smoke of Toronto, delightful Prince Edward County showcases a beautiful backdrop of fall jewel colours. A gem of a region known for its burgeoning wineries and a thriving gastronomic scene, it’s worth making a full day trip here, and with the assortment of stylish inns, an overnight stay is a wise choice as well. The glorious maple trees you see showing off their colours welcome you back in the winter season, when you can visit a variety of sugar shacks in Prince Edward County, seeing the fun and fascinating process of making maple syrup.
So if you’re like me and the impending winter is getting you down, “fall” for the idea of a trip to one of these destinations. Autumn’s captivating show of vibrant foliage is on for a limited time only!