With Algonquin Park, Muskoka and the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve located here, it’s no wonder that Ontario’s cottage country is one of the best places to watch Mother Nature’s annual fall fireworks transform lush, green forests into fiery canopies of red, yellow and orange.
Add the thousands of sparkling blue lakes you’ll find as well, and you’re never left wondering what it was about the region that inspired the Canadian Group of Seven painters, or anyone who ever made the annual pilgrimage here to get a fall colour fix.
There are tons of great spots to view the autumn foliage in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto (like…say…everywhere you turn…), but here are 8 places to consider when you’re making your fall getaway plans:
1. Dorset Lookout Tower
Originally a fire tower, this popular structure was built on the highest hill in the vicinity for maximum visibility. It rises 465 feet over Lake of Bays below and, for those keen to climb the stairs, provides 360 degrees of fall splendour stretching to the horizon no matter which way you turn.
2. Huckleberry Rock Trail, Muskoka
Located near Milford Bay, Muskoka, this trail is built on a massive deposit of billion-year-old pink granite, and has been famed in the area as a lookout over gorgeous Lake Muskoka for a century. Generous donations of land from adjacent owners allowed the creation of the public park that makes the lookout accessible.
3. Parry Sound Fire Tower
This was actually built not only as a fire tower, but as a beacon to attract tourists by a forward-thinking owner. The 96-foot tower in the midst of the town has a 360-degree view, looking towards the expanse of Georgian Bay to the west and down towards beautiful Parry Sound harbour.
4. Algonquin ParkOne of the most popular spots to view fall colour in Canada, Algonquin Park offers many opportunities for incredible viewing. Lookout Trail is the most popular of all; it’s a challenging trail of 1.9 km, but you are rewarded for your effort by a spectacular view of several hundred square kilometres of the park’s untouched wilderness: no buildings, no wires, no roads, just the land exactly the same as it was hundreds or thousands of years ago—adorned with spectacular fall colours.
5. High Rock Lookout, Almaguin Highlands
Found in the attractive little village of Sundridge in the Almaguin Highlands (north of Muskoka) this spot has an unparalleled view of beautiful Lake Bernard, which has the distinction of being the largest freshwater lake in the world that doesn’t have any islands. Bring the kids, picnic here, and take the walking trail to see the lake and the leaves up close.
6. Killbear Provincial Park, Parry Sound
Located on Georgian Bay north of Parry Sound, Killbear is always peaceful and gorgeous, with its mix of rocky and sand shores and the sunsets over Georgian Bay. For the best view, head out on the 3.5 km Lookout Point Trail, and after about half an hour of easy hiking, you’ll reach the top of the hill. Stand there and feel your breath be taken away.
7. Fire Tower Trail Lookout over Stormy Lake, Restoule Provincial Park
Less known than other viewing spots but arguably one of the most breathtaking, the Lookout over Stormy Lake in beautiful Restoule Provincial Park, in the Loring-Restoule area, is worth the drive and 7km hike.
FALL TRAVEL TIPS: to check the status of colour change in Explorer’s Edge (remembering that some regions change earlier than others), use the handy Fall Colours Report from Ontario Parks. And don’t forget your camera!
To plan your fall getaway to Explorers’ Edge and to experience the famous Canadian fall colour, click here.
Guest Blogger: Karen Wehrstein
A resident of Muskoka, Karen Wehrstein is a freelance writer and published novelist whose work has appeared in the National Post, Montreal Gazette, as well as Muskoka Magazine, What’s Up Muskoka and other regional publications. She lives on thirty acres of beautiful forest near Lake of Bays.