Amazing Places in Southern Ontario to Experience Stunning Autumn Colours

Amazing Places in Southern Ontario to Experience Stunning Autumn Colours

By Alex ToddDestinations

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The clean and crisp air, rustling of leaves, and a wide array of pumpkin-spiced products on store shelves are all sure signs that the autumn season is upon us. And while it is relatively short - especially when compared to the seemingly never-ending winter that follows - autumn offers some of the most dramatic changes of scenery that can be experienced by outdoor enthusiasts and casual explorers alike. What better way to experience this magical time of year than getting outside to enjoy the myriad of changing leaf colours on display in Ontario’s forests!

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “what’s so special about leaves? I can look out my window and see them change colour”, and you may be right. But while it is one thing to see the shades of green shift to warm hues of yellow, orange, and red, it is an entirely different thing to experience it amongst nature.

Luckily for you, this can be done through a variety of easily accessible activities like simply going for a walk, setting out on a day hike, camping in one of Ontario’s many parks, or hitting the mountain bike trails. No matter how you decide to do it, setting out on an autumn adventure will be sure to bring a final burst of colour to your life in the last weeks leading up to the cold grey of winter.

Holding Leaf

Table of Contents

When is the Best Time to View Autumn Colours in Southern Ontario?

As it is a fairly large province, you might just be wondering when is the best time to view the changing autumn colours in Ontario? And the answer is… it depends!

Generally speaking, late-September to late-October is the prime window to view the shift in autumn colours, but that doesn’t mean it is a gradual change throughout the month. On a more localized level, tree colour can rapidly change over the course of a few days, meaning plans for your perfect autumn weekend can quickly deteriorate if you have your sights on visiting a specific place.

In order to stay up-to-date, Ontario Parks has put together this Fall Colour Tool to help you keep track of the optimal times to view autumn colours throughout the province.

Where to Experience Autumn Colours in Southern Ontario?

As mentioned above, Ontario is a vast place that is blanketed in dense forests; however, Southern Ontario and its cleared agricultural land can make it a bit tricky to pinpoint where exactly you should go to experience beautiful fall colours.

If you are looking to explore the vast woodland landscapes of Ontario and take in the dazzling array of coloured foliage before the trails inevitably turn to muck, check out this list of incredible areas to explore this autumn:

Stream

Algonquin Provincial Park

Established in 1893, Algonquin is the oldest provincial park in Canada and covers an area of roughly 7,653km². The landscape within the park is a beautifully scenic mixture of vast forests, winding rivers, and countless lakes that are the source of many Canadians' fond outdoor memories. With just how stunning the park is during the autumn season, we have no doubt that it will serve as the perfect backdrop for your own incredible fall adventures!

Considered by many to represent the border between Southern Ontario and Northern Ontario, Algonquin Provincial Park is very accessible from the population centres of Ottawa and Toronto. Neary 25 species of colour-changing trees can be found here, setting the landscape aglow with a magical blend of yellows, oranges, and deep reds. While you will most likely encounter other hikers on your adventures, you will also feel a sense of remoteness that is hard to find elsewhere in Canada’s most populated province.

Trail Picks:
Lookout Trail | 1.9 km | 71 m | 0.5-1h
Centennial Ridges Trail | 9.8 km | 460 m | 3-4h

Algonquin

Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

Situated along the renowned Bruce Trail and only a 1.5h drive from Toronto, Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is a wonderful place to experience the waning beauty of the fall season. This relatively close proximity to the city does mean that the park sees a large volume of visitors, but the stunning array of colours are still good enough to make the trip out!

Although small, the park features a number of fun hiking trails that traverse the rugged terrain of the Niagara Escarpment, offering some great vantage points from which you can look out across the colourful canopy of leaves.

Mono Cliffs Trail | 8.9 km | 254 m | 2.5-3h

Bruce Peninsula

Jutting out into the waters of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the Bruce Peninsula is another incredible outdoor destination that holds a special place in the heart of many Ontarians. Here, shimmering waters crash against rocky shorelines that are overlooked by towering trees, creating the perfect scene when the foliage begins to change from deep green to a myriad of bright yellows, flaming oranges, and eye-popping reds.

Depending on where you live, the Bruce can be a bit out of the way for a simple day hike. In our experience, this beautiful tucked away corner of Ontario is best experienced while camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park, which makes for the perfect multi-day autumn adventure.

Trail Picks:
Spirit Rock Trail | 4.0 km | 118 m | 1-1.5h
Lion’s Head Loop Hike | 15.0 km | 428 m | 4-5h

Bruce Peninsula

Hamilton/Niagara

Known for its many waterfalls and the rugged terrain of the Niagara Escarpment, the Hamilton/Niagara region is a fantastic place to experience the majesty of autumn. Many of the trails that can be found here are situated in close proximity to the city, which can be good or bad depending on personal preference, but for anyone looking to get outdoors without having to travel too far, there are plenty of options to take in the changing foliage.

In addition to experiencing the stunning overlooks along the escarpment, visitors to Niagara can also head into Ontario’s wine country during harvest season. Beautifully scenic hikes filled with dazzling colours and sipping on a glass of wine is the perfect pairing, making for a full autumn experience that is hard to beat!

Trail Picks:
Mount Nemo Loop Hike | 5.3 km | 81 m | 1-1.5h
Queenston Heights via Bruce Trail | 8.2 km | 111 m | 2-2.5h

High Park

Toronto

Just because you’re stuck in the city doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the amazing scenery that comes with the autumn season! While they will likely be a bit busier than some of the other places mentioned on this list, Toronto has plenty of amazing greenspaces and natural areas that are begging to be explored - especially when you can grab a coffee or hot chocolate to keep you warm on your hike!

Most people know about High Park and its impressive cherry blossoms that come to life in the spring, but fall in the park is bursting with colours that are just as impressive. On the other end of the city, the Don River Valley and Rouge National Urban Park provide vast swathes of tree cover that truly come alive, providing a great natural relief against the manmade sprawl of the city.

Trail Picks:
Rouge Valley Loop via Vista Trail | 9.0 km | 145 m | 2-3h
High Park Trail | 5.1 km | 56 m | 1-2h

With its short timespan and often poor weather, Autumn can come and go in the blink of an eye; but that doesn’t mean that you need to miss out on a few weeks of adventure. Using the above list, we hope that you are able to uncover some of these amazing places in Southern Ontario where you can experience autumn colours at the peak of their beauty!

Get more adventure out of your autumn season

Tired of the same old hikes? Need some inspiration to plan your next big autumn adventure? Whether you have iOS or Android, the 10Adventures trail app is the perfect companion to research and experience all of your adventures year-round. With the ability to discover new trails, track your hike with GPS, and follow your progress, you can feel confident tackling whatever the trail brings your way!

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