autumn leaves over blue lake

Explore fall colours at these undiscovered gems

These six Ontario Parks sure pack a punch when it comes to fall colours:

Restoule Provincial Park

fall leaves, blue sky, calm lake
Hike the Fire Tower Trail at Restoule Provincial Park.

Park staff often sing the praises of Restoule. This lesser-known park near North Bay has oak, maple and birch forests that blaze with colour every fall. Dog owners and their canine friends love the pet friendly beach and play area.

Hikers favour the 7 kilometre Fire Tower Trail, which leads to the historic fire tower. Mountain bikers like the rugged Gibs Trail which heads into park backcountry, but beware: it can be difficult depending on the amount of rain the park has had.

Ferris Provincial Park

Ranney Gorge Brdge

Ferris Provincial Park, near Campbellford, is an easy two-hour trip from Toronto. Kids love to bike the TransCanada Trail which runs through the park. Ranney Ferris Suspension Bridge is a park highlight and one of many fall colour views.

Ferris’s 3.2 km River Gorge Trail passes the beautiful Ranney Gorge before heading downriver, past an old quarry and a historic “sheep’s wash” turned picnic area. Friends of Ferris are hosting a guided Fungi walk in the park on October 3 for just $5 a person. The walk starts at 1 p.m.

Lake Superior Provincial Park

hiker looking down from lookout at rolling hills of fall foliage over Lake Superior

One of Ontario’s great fall drives is between the City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Town of Wawa. The fall colours are stunning and nowhere more so than Lake Superior Provincial Park. The park is the transition point between a Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest of sugar maple, red maple and yellow birch, and boreal forest which is dominated by evergreens. That’s what makes this park so special.

The Group of Seven painters recognized its beauty early. Their first exhibition in 1920 was largely inspired by what is today protected park landscape. There are 11 hiking trails to choose from. The longest is the 65 km Coastal Trail which you can break up into sections and hike as day trips. Fall salmon fishing in this park is good too.

Earl Rowe Provincial Park

red leaf

Earl Rowe is close to Toronto (just 94 km northwest). Watch spawning salmon at the fish ladder or choose a hike. The trail network includes a paved trail with wheelchair access.

Rainbow Run is a good distance hike. The 11 km trail basically encompasses the entire trail network Try the 4 km Lookout Trail if you’re looking for a panoramic view. The non-motorized Riverside Campground Trail is a favourite fall bike ride too.

Arrowhead Provincial Park

fall leaves by the waterfall

A wonderful fall colour alternative to busy Algonquin is Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville. This little gem of a park — better known for its winter activities — has lots of fall photo ops.

Walk down to a pretty waterfall or rent a mountain bike and try one of Arrowhead’s designated trails. There’s the 4.5 km Arrowhead Lake Trail or the 3 km Lookout Trail. Hikers like the 7 km Beaver Meadow Trail which winds its way past the Porcupine Bluffs and has nice fall vistas.

Arrowhead’s lakes are fun to paddle, and kayak and canoe rentals are available. Six heated cabins can also be rented year-round.

Charleston Lake Provincial Park

couple on bridge

If you’re in the Ottawa or Kingston areas, try Charleston Lake Provincial Park, near Brockville. Eastern Ontario’s highest point of land is in this park and you can hike to it for a spectacular fall view. Paddle or kayak to a refurbished lakeside cabin or bring your bikes and peddle the park’s road network.

If you love to stargaze, Charleston Lake even has its own dedicated dark-sky field. Four yurts are available for rent. Canoe and kayak rentals are also available.

Beat the crowds this autumn by enjoying the beauty of Ontario’s fall colours at these undiscovered gems!