Experience the magic of fall at a park that has it all: Restoule Provincial Park!
From tranquil paddling routes to scenic trails for hikers or mountain bikers, there is something for everyone! And this quiet park does not hold back on the vibrant fall colours!
Restoule Provincial Park is just a little over four hours from Toronto, and well worth the drive. The winding road into the park warmly welcomes visitors while giving a preview of the stunning autumn views.
I first visited Restoule in the summer while on a stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) road trip to Northeastern Ontario. Even though my stay here was short, I fell in love with this cozy campground. I knew fall would bring a whole new experience, but little did I know just how magical it’d be.
Some tips when considering a fall adventure at Restoule:
- Check the Ontario Parks Fall Colours Report Map. This is an incredibly helpful resource, especially for photographers and outdoorspeople who want to time their visits with the leaves changing colours. Some like the golden-yellow hues, some wait for the reds, while I like a mix of everything!
- Always check the weather and pack insulating layers, waterproof and windproof gear. Although it rained all three days I was there, being prepared allowed me to adapt to the weather conditions and continue to soak in the beauty of the park, making this trip my most memorable fall adventures to date!
- Can’t decide whether to go frontcountry camping (car camping) or backcountry camping at Restoule? Consider the activities you want to do. Do keep in mind that Restoule offers canoe, kayak, SUP, and mountain bike rentals. This way, you don’t have to worry about bringing your own gear or, if you have a spontaneous impulse to paddle or ride the trails, you can rent!
Here are some activities I enjoyed during my stay at Restoule with some suggested routes, tips, and photo inspiration:
Paddle your heart out: canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard (SUP)
As an avid stand-up paddleboarder, I usually find a way to include some SUP time on my travels and adventures, and Restoule is perfect paddleboarding paradise, especially in fall with all the beautiful colours in contrast with the blue open water!
Before embarking on your paddling adventure, check the weather, water levels, and conditions, and go with a buddy. Always wear the right gear according to the weather, a lifejacket/PFD, and a SUP leash if you’re on a paddleboard, and review Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide (which includes info for SUP-ers).
Beginner paddlers can hang out close to shore around the beaches and still enjoy the fall landscape. For more experienced paddlers, Restoule’s Day Paddling Routes map suggests five fun routes.
Rentals are also available at three different locations in the park, two of which are right by the campsites. This means you can crawl out of your sleeping bag, walk over to the lake, and enjoy your coffee while watching the sunrise!
There are also two boat launches and three docks with several waterfront campsites!
Check these areas off your list:
Whether you’re going by canoe, kayak or SUP, paddlers can explore three different parts of Restoule:
The north side of Stormy Lake is where you can see the 100-metre cliff lined with ancient cedars at the base and the iconic fire tower. Watch the weather and wind conditions to avoid getting blown out onto the open lake.
The south side of Restoule Lake is a perfect spot for those cool, fog-rising-out-of-the-lake-in-the-early morning paddling sessions where you can listen to loons in the distance.
The river on the west side connects both lakes (a short 200 m portage just before the bridge is necessary during fall to get around the rocky, shallow rapids section). Watch pine needles sprinkle down as you paddle through this calm, sheltered spot.
Ride the trails: mountain biking
Mountain biking at Restoule is another magical way to experience fall. Ride through the crunchy and colourful forest while falling leaves float by you.
If you don’t own a mountain bike or decide you want to ride after a backcountry trip, Restoule offers great rental bikes made by Giant. A helmet and bike lock are also provided — all you need is to hop on and go!
This park seriously makes it easy for you to play outside.
During my visit, I enjoyed Angel’s Point Trail; I rode it several times! The wide trail is an easy 2.8 km loop, with an option to take a more challenging inner loop.
While this was the closest trail to my campsite, having a bike with me meant being able to easily explore every corner of the park without having to drive around.
Like paddling, where there’s a route to get you exploring the different water bodies surrounding the park, there’s a trail along each of these paddling spots!
Rangers Point Trail offers a lookout to get another view of the cliff, while the River Trail takes you by the bridge and group picnic area with the tall pines.
Tip: pack a snack or lunch no matter what trail you check out, as there are secluded picnic tables and lovely places to take a break. Spots like this also mean you can easily meet up with your paddling friends while you hit the trails!
While some parts of the trails were too muddy to ride without wrecking the trail, riding the roads around the campground surrounded by maple trees was still a gorgeous treat!
Do keep your eyes out for wildlife – a deer crossed right in front of me on the main park road, and we passed a porcupine nibbling on something right by a trail at dusk!
Enjoy scenic, panoramic lookouts: hiking
If you’re checking out Restoule for the first time or only have enough time to pick one thing to do — hike the Fire Tower Trail.
Not only is this the #1 hiking trail in the park, but it’s also the trail that takes you up to the fire tower featured on the park patch and sticker (make sure you pick one up with the Passport to Ontario Parks if you haven’t already!)
And whenever there’s a fire tower, there’s most likely a breathtaking lookout.
The 4.1 km trail starts off pretty easy, but gets steep and technical in some spots.
Take your time with all the rocky spots and bask in the colourful forest!
While most people consider swimming a summer activity, some people take every opportunity to wade into a lake as long as there isn’t ice!
I invited my friend and Ironman athlete Mauro (who is also part of GLOW, the Great Lakes Open Water Swimming community) to take a dip at Restoule. He is always training for his next event so I often act as on-water SUPport (get it 😉 ) during his swims.
I figured the 2.5 km distance from the boat ramp to the cliff would not be too out of the ordinary.
Or so I thought.
“Swimming Stormy Lake at Restoule Provincial Park was an exceptional experience. Every time I turned my head for a breath, I admired the glassy water mirroring the stunning colours of fall. The view of the cliffs towering over the water was not only a unique reference point, but the wild landscape made this an incredibly enjoyable experience that I absorbed with every stroke. I am already planning my return visit,” recounted Mauro after his swim.
With Matthew in a canoe, Mauro swimming along in the water, we each had a different perspective of the water, but all embraced the cooler fall temperatures with a sense of outdoor adventure!
Edits by: Diana @only1phoenixx. Drone footage: @Matthew416.
There’s always more to see and do
No matter what activity you decide to do at Restoule in fall, you’ll be treated with stunning views and a relaxing time in nature.
I was so tempted to extend my stay until the leaves dropped because of all the fun ways to get out there at Restoule.
Here are some additional fall activity suggestions:
- mushroom/fungi spotting
- nature photography
- trail running
Look no further than Restoule Provincial Park for your next autumn adventure destination!