The season of crisp sweater weather and a kaleidoscope of spectacular colour is here!
If you don’t happen to live close by to some of Ontario’s most legendary fall colour hot spots, we’ve got you covered. Here are 15 urban parks, greenspaces and trails to enjoy nature’s show, all while practicing physical distancing and staying local.
Ontario encourages everyone to travel safe during this time and follow public health guidelines. Some facilities may not be operating, so pack lots of water. It is important to practice physical distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a non-medical face covering where required, or where physical distancing is a challenge. Learn more Coronavirus-related health and safety measures at Ontario.ca/coronavirus.
The Don River Valley Park, Toronto
Stretching from Pottery Road to Corktown Common, this forest and ravine system features great walking and biking trails alongside the Don River and connects to hot spots like Crothers Woods or Evergreen Brick Works. Hint: the top of the Lookout Path at the Brick Works offers a stellar view of the city skyline and on weekends the Sipping Container is your go-to for hydration.
Photo credit: @angela.trann
Rouge National Urban Park, Scarborough
At 79.1 square kilometres, this is the largest urban park in North America! Spanning the communities of Scarborough, Markham and Pickering, extensive trails cross forests, creeks, watersheds and even stretch to the shore of Lake Ontario. Besides the natural attractions, the park features significant historical and educational opportunities including some of Canada’s oldest Indigenous sites.
The Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa
Part of Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm, the Dominion Arboretum dates back to 1886, making it Canada’s oldest arboretum. Wander its paths and gardens and admire the variety of plant life or take in gorgeous views of Dow’s Lake to the northeast and the Rideau Canal looking south from designated lookout points.
Photo credit: @nori832
Rideau Canal, Ottawa
Possibly Canada’s most well known waterway, the Rideau Canal is a year-round attraction becoming the world’s longest skating rink in winter and a boating hotspot in summer. But fall may just be its most beautiful season, flanking the waterway with vibrant fall foliage. Explore by bike or on the water with a kayak.
Meadowvale Conservation Area, Mississauga
Significant native plants and wildlife make this 179 acre green space an Environmentally Significant Area. Hike the Glassford Trail, a series of nature paths along the scenic Credit River.
Lake Laurentian Conservation Area, Sudbury
Just minutes from downtown, this vast wilderness area features nature trails to scenic lookouts and wetland areas.
Photo credit: @zaccepte
Heart Lake Conservation Park, Brampton
169 hectares of parkland with trails, hiking and even treetop trekking await you in this urban nature preserve in the north end of Brampton. The twin zip lines across Heart Lake might just be the most exciting way to view fall colour. Fun fact: Treetop Trekking was awarded Ontario’s Top Outdoor Attraction for 2020.
Photo credit: @belbatron
Sifton Bog Natural Area, London
Need a quick nature fix? The walk through Sifton Bog Nature Area is only a few kilometres but is well worth the visit. It features a wooden boardwalk through forested wetland that leads to a picturesque viewing platform over Redman’s Pond.
Photo credit: @bushtreckboosh
John Roswell Hub Trail, Sault Ste. Marie
This well maintained 24 kilometre trail is wheel-chair friendly and connects landmarks in the city such as the waterfront walkway and Bellevue Park to Fort Creek Conservation Area.
Photo credit: @nick_seman_photography
Dundas Valley, Hamilton
Main Loop, the Bruce Trail and Brantford Rail Trail are the three main trails to explore 1,200 hectare conservation area. This one of several natural urban attractions in Hamilton including parks, waterfalls and waterways, managed by Hamilton Conservation Authority.
Homer Watson Park, Kitchener
Showstopping views of the Grand River surrounded by fall colour have attracted photographers and artists to this popular park, nestled behind the Waterloo Region Museum.
Ojibway Nature Centre and Park, Windsor
Located in the southwest end of Windsor, 15 kilometres of forest and prairie hiking trails surround the Ojibway Nature Centre. Keep an eye out for migrating birds and deer.
Photo credit: @sims.pix
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg
Appreciation of nature is a key theme in the art showcased at McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and the exhibition extends well beyond the walls of the gallery in fall. Wander the 100 acres of surrounding forest and explore the wilderness garden, outdoor sculptures and the McMichael Cemetery, where six members of the Group of Seven are laid to rest. The gallery is approx. 30 minutes drive from Toronto and 15 minutes from Vaughan.
White Water Walk, Niagara Falls
Fall foliage offers a dramatic backdrop to nature’s awesome show of power with class 6 white-water rapids on the Niagara River. Experience it all from designated waterside viewing platforms along the self-guided boardwalk tour.
Duchesnay Falls Trail, North Bay
The scenic trail starts just west of the city, along Highway 17, and runs alongside the Duchesnay Falls. The falls start as a series of rapids and cascades that follow the two main channels of the river, each tumbling over several different cliffs. The largest waterfall is the lower falls on the west branch.
Top image photo credit: @visualsbysteve