Looking for a destination to enjoy the colours of fall? Look no further! Fall colours in Ontario are so spectacular that they have been inspiring artists for years. In fact, autumn is almost synonymous with Canada, it even has its own website dedicated to fall foliage and colour change. The crisp cool Canadian weather combined with bright red, yellow and orange leaves falling to the ground and the smell of pumpkin spice in the air makes Ontario one of the best places to enjoy the fall season. There is just something about putting on your warmest plaid jacket, drinking a pumpkin spiced latte and enjoying the sites of a Canadian fall in Ontario’s cottage country. Looking for the best place to enjoy bright red maple leaves this fall? Check out these 11 best places to see fall colours in Ontario!
1. Dundas Peak in Hamilton
Accessible via the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area, the Dundas Trail which leads to Dundas Peak is one of the best places to see fall colours in Ontario. Just a short hop from Toronto, this look out provides sweeping views of the conservation area from above. This means that from Dundas Peak, you can look down and out on some of Ontario’s best fall foliage.
Not only are visitors to Dundas Peak able to enjoy amazing views of fall colours, but along the way it is possible to pass two of Hamilton’s most popular waterfalls on the Dundas Trail. Webster Falls is located right at the parking lot and is one of the most photogenic waterfalls in the area, while Tews Falls, part of the same hiking area, is Hamilton’s tallest waterfall at 41 metres.
The Dundas Trail follows the escarpment until it reaches the lookout and cliffs of Dundas Peak. The cliffs here are open and so it is up to the hiker to remain cautious when approaching the edge…it is probably better not to. Parking at the conservation area costs $10 and can be really busy on weekends so arrive early if you can. The trail is also dog friendly!
How to get there: From Hwy 403 take Exit 74 Hwy 6 toward Guelph, continue to Hwy 5 turn left towards Paris, turn left onto Ofield Rd S, right onto Harvest Rd, left on Short Rd.
Costs: $10 for parking
Things to know: Arrive early as parking can fill up, especially on the weekends. In fact this trail is really busy on the weekends. Picnics are common and dogs are welcome. There are a variety of different waterfall and trail off shoots to be explored, so plan to spend the entire afternoon! Be cautious at the edge of the cliffs, there are no guard rails and erosion is still a thing. Do it for the ‘gram’, but do it responsibly.
2. Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is Ontario’s newest and largest provincial park south of Algonquin. Located just 2 hours away from Toronto, a visit to the area can provide an excellent option for a city escape, and of course this cottage country area has some of the best fall foliage in Ontario.
The park itself is very accessible, with 9 different points of entry spread throughout the area. There are tons of opportunities for backcountry camping in the Kawarthas, as well as some spectacular options for canoeing in Ontario. There are few better ways to appreciate the fall colours than from the ultra Canadian activity of canoeing down a lake. The lakes are also accessible from a day trip perspective, so you don’t need to camp to appreciate a view of bright red maples reflecting on calm Kawartha waters.
If canoeing isn’t your thing, no worries, you can enjoy the fall colours of the Kawartha’s from the comforts of luxurious Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake. Wake up early from the comfort of a bed and take in the sights of the colourful fall foliage against the misty morning waters of the Kawartha Lakes with a warm coffee in hand. Sounds pretty great doesn’t it?
How to get there: From Hwy 401 E towards Ottawa take Exit 436 Hwy35/115 towards Peterborough, continue on Hwy115 N to Hwy 7 Ottawa, From Hwy 7 turn left on Hwy 28 to Bancroft, turn left onto Anstruther Lake Rd
Costs: $12.43 pp for backcountry camping
Day Vehicle parking cost: $12-21
Things to know: Kawartha Highlands is a massive park. If you find it intimidating, don’t be afraid to take a guided tour…I did! You can read more about it here. There are quite a few outfitters in the area to rent canoeing gear if you need it.
3. Algonquin Park
Algonquin Park is arguably the best place to see fall colours in Ontario. Established in 1893, this is the oldest provincial park in Canada and with 7,653 square kilometers of Canadian nature, it is also the largest. With over 2,400 lakes and 1,200 km’s of streams, the majority of Algonquin park is accessible by foot or canoe only. As a result, there are some fabulous opportunities for hiking and backcountry camping on these well marked trails and portages.
Algonquin park has often been considered the point of separation between Northern and Southern Ontario. Just a few hours from Toronto and super accessible with highway access on both sides, Algonquin is an ideal place to see Canadian fall colours.
Algonquin is inundated with untouched lakes and rivers. The abundant trees in the park stand tall, strong and are beautiful. The colder weather can cause the leaves to change colour quicker and the sheer quantity of them can make this park as intense as an artist’s painting. If you are looking to escape the city and experience some of Canada’s most beautiful topography, the Canadian Shield in Algonquin provides the perfect destination. With hiking trails covering all difficulty levels, accessible campsites, and picturesque lakes and rivers, there is no better place to see Ontario’s fall colours than in Algonquin.
How to get there: Take Hwy 60 east from Hwy 11 at Huntsville
Costs: $12.43 pp for backcountry camping
Day Vehicle parking cost: $12-21
Things to know: Algonquin Park is massive. Plan your route accordingly to match your experience level. There are quite a few ways to camp in Algonquin. You can drive in to your campsite, rent cabins in the woods or be more adventurous and canoe into inland lakes which might involve portages. This trip is made better with some pre-planning.
4. Norfolk County
Norfolk County is located in South Western Ontario and is becoming a hotspot for outdoor adventures and agro-tourism. With Long Point designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1986, the region is home to the largest area of wetlands and woodlands in Southern Ontario, a naturalist’s paradise. It is easy to see why this area of Ontario is superb for fall colour viewing.
There are some pretty unique places to stay on Lake Erie to enjoy the fall colours of Ontario. With many forested areas and a great location, Long Point Eco Adventures is an eco-resort full of luxurious glamping tents and wooden pods. The property is home to one of the best lookouts on the biosphere reserve and staying here means visitors are likely to spend more time outdoors…it is camping…sort of. With its spectacular view of the biosphere, and outdoor comforts, Long Point Eco in Norfolk County might just be one of the best places to see fall colours.
With agricultural tourism at its forefront; a visit to Norfolk County will have you frolicking through farms, playing with pumpkins, and enjoying the spirit of fall. At the end of the day you can stop by one of the many Norfolk wineries and enjoy a glass of wine with a fall view. Located just 2 hours south of Toronto, Norfolk County is a definite win when considering finding the best places to view fall colours in Ontario.
How to get there: Take Hwy 6 exit from Hwy 403 in Hamilton then right on Hwy 3 E, then left on Hwy 24 turn left on Hwy 59 S to Long Point
Costs: No hidden costs
Things to know: Norfolk County has some amazing places and hidden gems you can check out while in the area and I have written about a few of them here. Norfolk is also a foodies paradise. Everywhere you look there will be some form of a unique restaurant, winery or brewery just waiting for you. While you are out enjoying the fall colours and a day on the beach, take a little time out of your day to have a bite to eat.
Just 2 hours drive from Toronto, Muskoka is Ontario’s premier cottage country destination. Spanning 6,475 square kilometers, Muskoka has over 1,600 lakes including the three main bodies of water known as Lake Rosseau, Lake Joseph, and Lake Muskoka. These massive lakes are both navigable and are covered with mansion like cottages and boathouses. Muskoka is home to the rich and famous.
Without a doubt this accessible area is one of the best places to view fall colours in Ontario as grand lakes provide sweeping views of Canadian boreal forests dotted with the rocks of the Canadian shield.
As Muskoka covers a pretty large area, there are a number of places to find amazing views of fall foliage in Ontario, as seen on this fall colours chart , and if luck would have it, to enjoy a fall getaway in Ontario. Georgian Bay Island National Park has colourful leaves mixed with wind swept pine trees, perfect for the inspired artist looking for fall colours. There are a number of accessible lookouts that provide spectacular views. Lion’s Lookout in Huntsville and Huckleberry Rock in Lake Muskoka are a couple to note. Options in the Muskoka’s are endless when it comes to viewing fall colours in Canada, a positive result of frequent tourism to the area.
How to get there: North on Hwy 400 to Muskoka Rd 38 to Bala
Where to Stay: Located in Hunstville: The Deerhurst Resort has everything anyone could want while staying in Muskoka, check it out here
Located in Minett:Cleveland House is one of the most famous resorts in the Muskoka’s, check it out here
Located on Lake Rosseau: The JW Marriott on Rosseau is luxury on the lake, and right in the heart of the Muskoka’s
Costs: Probably expensive
Things to know: Muskoka is known as a destination and home for the rich and famous…it also encompasses quite a large area. A little pre-planning can go a long way. There are many different areas and ways to view fall colours in Muskoka so make sure you look at all of your options. One option is to explore the shores on one of the three major lakes by renting a cottage. Another option is to take a boat cruise around the area or to hike one of the many many available trails. Muskoka provides both a luxurious and adventurous way to see Ontario’s Fall colours. Located just 2 hours from Toronto and teaming with restaurants and the occasional nightlife offering, Muskoka might just call for a multi-day trip.
6. Ojibway Park Windsor
The Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve, the Ojibway Nature Center and the Ojibway Tom Joy Woods are all part of a massive complex located within the city limits of Windsor, Ontario. With a variety of options to see the fall colours in Ontario, it is no wonder that the Ojibway Park should be on your list of things to do in Windsor, Ontario.
With education at its forefront, the Ojibway Parks in Windsor have a nature centre full of guides and experts who will teach visitors about the 247 species found within the park. When considering where to see fall colours in Canada, a visit to the Ojibway Park in Windsor provides the option and opportunity to explore Ontario’s fall colours with the convenience of being in the city. The colours, visible through the roughly 15km’s of park and manicured prairie trails combined with an educational experience makes Ojibway Park one of the best family friendly places to see fall colours in Ontario’s South West.
How to get there: The parks are located in Windsor and are accessible by car with free parking. From downtown, the park is just 8km away and an 11 minute drive.Public buses will also take you near the park
Costs: Free Admission, Free Parking
Things to know: The Park is open daily from 10:00am-5:00pm. If you are heading to Windsor to view fall colours, you can check out this blog post I wrote that includes some great places to stay, some of my favourite restaurants and the best wineries and some other cool things to do in the area.
7. Agawa Canyon
A visit to Agawa Canyon is possibly one of the best places in Canada to see fall foliage, let alone in Ontario. This train ride through the rugged north of Ontario leads visitors through areas which once inspired many of the works of art from the famous Canadian Group of Seven. Take a seat in one of the comfortable coach trains and simply enjoy the mix of red, green, yellow and orange leaves complimented by the harsh rocks and many lakes of the Canadian Shield.
With fall colours so prominent in the Agawa Canyon, not only is there a fall colours chart to follow, but there are tours which are focused specifically on showing off the best of Canada and Ontario’s fall foliage. With a GPS tracked commentary following your trip, you are welcome to learn about the area or simply to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
At mile 102, the train hugs Agawa Canyon’s wall as it descends 500 feet over 10 miles to the bottom of the canyon. Once in the canyon, which was created 1.2 million years ago, visitors have the opportunity to enjoy hiking trails in Agawa Canyon Park. Not to mention waterfalls, a lunch space, and a few park benches from which to enjoy the view. If there is one place in Ontario to view fall colours, the Agawa Canyon is it.
How to get there: The tourist train to Agawa Canyon leaves from Sault St. Marie and is a return journey. The trip happens multiple times throughout the week. If you want to backcountry camp in the park or canoe through it, you can board the no-frills train that leaves 3 times a week year round. If you are inclined to drive, you can follow the North Shore of Lake Superior to Wawa and enjoy the park from there.
Costs: Train tour is $122 CAD
Things to know: If you are interested in taking the tourism train, there is a package specific to Canada’s fall colours! The train also offers 2 and 3 night packages which include activities in Algoma County, stays in Sault St. Marie, and a trip to the canyon! Do your research!
8. Rattlesnake Point, Milton
Conveniently located close to Toronto in Milton, Ontario, a trip to Rattlesnake Point offers visitors the opportunity to experience some of Ontario’s amazing fall colours without much hassle. Open year round for day hikes, an adventure to Buffalo Crag Lookout at Rattlesnake Point provides sweeping views of the escarpment and includes a mix of fall coloured leaves and thousand year old cedars.
There are a variety of hiking options available in the park all leading to epic views and lookouts. With varying difficulty levels, a visit to Rattlesnake Point has something for everyone, even our four legged friends. Camp spaces with amenities are also available to rent within the park for those who wish to extend their stay overnight.
Once in the area, hikers looking to capitalize on fall colours can combine Rattlesnake Point with Crawford Lake Park by hiking the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail towards Crawford Lake as an out and back. This out and back day hike takes visitors along Meromectic Lake, past an Iroquoian village and includes an afternoon of epic views. With multiple opportunities to see the fall colours in Ontario, a visit to Rattlesnake Point in conveniently located Milton, Ontario can provide some seriously vivid sweeping views of fall colours on the escarpment.
How to get there: Take exit 9 from Hwy 407 to Appleby Line/ RR20, go north for approximately 10km and it is on your left
Cost: $7.00 to enter the park
Things to know: From April to October, the park hours run from 8:30am to 9:00pm, in October, the hours are subject to change. Many of these hikes are fairly easy, making this a family friendly trip. There are also quite a few turkey vultures in the area who float in the thermals which are visible from the lookouts.
9. Thousand Islands Tower
Located near Kingston, Ontario, the Thousand Islands are an archipelago of 1,864 islands which straddle the boarder between Canada and the United States on the St. Lawrence River. The islands in this area vary in size from 40 miles long, to single dwelling properties, to uninhabited bits of land and create a unique landscape from which to enjoy the fall season in Canada. The many islands, surrounded by the historical waters of the St. Lawrence River, are all covered with Canada’s colourful boreal forests and when mixed with quaint homes make the Thousand Islands a great spot to see fall colours in Ontario.
For one of the most breathtaking views of fall colours in Ontario, visitors have the opportunity to make their way to the top of the Thousand Islands Tower to catch a birds eye view of the wonderful fall foliage in Canada. With an elevator that runs continuously, visitors have the opportunity to stop by 3 observation decks 130 meters high, which provide photogenic and panoramic views of the Thousand Islands, the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding area. With a guide available all season long to answer questions at the first level, it is no doubt that the Thousand Islands Tower is one of the best and easiest ways to catch a panoramic view of Ontario’s fall foliage.
How to get there: Take Exit 661 off Highway 401 onto Highway 137 south. Proceed through toll both, after 500m you will find it on the left side.
Cost: $12.00 per person
Things to know: The tower is open daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm until October 20th, after that it is opened by request. The elevator goes up every 10 minutes. No reservations are needed. It is also possible to join a boat cruise in the area which will take visitors on a tour throughout many of the Thousand Islands as well as past some beautiful homes intermingled with the red, yellow and green leaves of the forest…you might even cruise by a castle. There are some pretty great places to stay and eat while in the area, plus you are close to one of the coolest cities in Ontario…Kingston.
10. Tobermory Lookout
Part of the geological formation called the ‘Niagara Escarpment’, Tobermory is one of the most popular destinations on the Bruce Peninsula. The Bruce Peninsula is the area which lies between Georgian Bay and the main basin of Lake Huron and is famous for its hiking trails, connections to Manitoulin Island, and crystal clear blue waters. Tobermory, along with its already dashing reputation of topographical wonder, is by default home to one of the best views of Ontario’s foliage during the fall season in Canada.
The town of Tobermory is considered the hub for the Bruce Peninsula National Park and includes an active visitor centre for the area. The visitor centre provides guests with information for exploring the area and includes exhibits, a theatre, and most importantly when considering fall colours in Ontario…a lookout tower.
As part of the visitors centre, a 65 foot tall look out tower provides guests with a fabulous view of the Bruce Peninsula and Georgian Bay. From the top of the tower during the fall season in Canada, the colourful leaves of the forested Bruce Peninsula are visible for miles and miles, as far as the eye can see. After climbing 113 steps up, guests are welcomed with an incredible view of the area as well as with informational guides of things to look for. With a birds eye-view always topping the list of ways to see fall colours, the Tobermory Lookout Tower should make the list of any fall colours in Ontario guide as it provides just that.
How to get there: The park is accessible from the south along Highway 6 if you are driving, and through the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry if you are coming via Manitoulin Island in the North.
Cost: Free entrance to the tower. Camping and parking costs apply as part of Parks Canada depending on type of camp e.t.c. Daily Parking is $12.00
Things to know: The visitor centre is open from 9:00am to 5:00pm until October 31. The observation tower is right next to the hiking trail which leads to Tobermory’s famous ‘Grotto’. After viewing the fall colours from above, head on through the forest below and make your way to the Grotto to enjoy a beach and rock formation which highlights the clear blue waters of Georgian Bay. The area also includes a variety of places to camp and stay, restaurants to eat at, multiple hiking trails through Bruce Peninsula National Park as well as access to the Fatham Five National Marine Park. This trip could be good for a multi-day adventure.
11. Ball’s Falls Conservation Area
Ball’s Falls Conservation Area is located in the Twenty Valley of the Niagara region and offers spectacular scenery, especially during the fall season in Canada, as well as the opportunity to get up close and personal with Ontario’s flora. The Conservation Centre itself was designed and built to have a minimal impact on natural resources. The centre features both permanent and temporary galleries as well as interactive exhibits which focus attention on nature, conservation and culture. A visit to Ball’s Falls intermixes a learning experience with the adventure of hiking in the Niagara escarpment and makes for a great place to spend the day in Ontario.
When searching to find the best places to see fall colours in Ontario, the view of the Twenty Mile Creek plummeting over the upper and lower Ball’s Falls should be on your radar. The water of the creek tumbles over the high rocky cliffs and can be viewed from both above and below. From above, the view displays the crashing water against the backdrop of hundreds of tree tops sporting red, yellow, orange and green leaves. From below one can feel the power and the spray of the rushing waters while looking beyond to the beautiful fall foliage.
Along with the possibilities of seeing the fall colours from various vantage points and angles, visitors have the option of jumping on one of the many hiking trails along the banks of Twenty Mile Creek, or to access the Bruce Trail right from the conservation area. Having a selection of trails, views, and opportunities to appreciate the outdoors, Ball’s Falls is without a doubt an ideal location to view Ontario’s fall colours.
How to get there: From QEW Niagara take Exit 57 Victoria Avenue/County Rd 24 S then left on Sixth Avenue
Costs: $8 per person or $24 Max/car
Things to know: The park is open from 8:00am-8:00pm daily, year round. The Conservation Center is open from 9:00am to 4:00pm year round except for weekends, and January through March. If you are heading to the Ball’s Falls to see the fall colours, every year for the past 45 years, Ball’s Falls hosts a Thanksgiving festival of food, music and artisans making it an ideal time to visit. The conservation centre is located right in the middle of the Niagara wine region and so wineries line the road driving into Ball’s Falls. After a long day of hiking, try stopping in at one of the many wineries and restaurants to top off your day!