The Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report is LIVE at http://www.ontarioparks.com/fallcolour . Check the report often. It is updated as colours change. Here are some of the best fall colour vantage points in Ontario Parks:
Ishpatina Ridge is located in Lady Evelyn Smoothwater Provincial Park, ninety kilometres north of Sudbury. It is Ontario’s highest point of land rising 693 metres or 2,274 feet above sea level. You can access the ridge by foot but the timeliest way is to canoe to Scarecrow Lake and then climb the clearly marked trail to the top. The rock dome rises roughly 300 metres above the surrounding terrain and the view is magnificent.
Sleeping Giant is a long peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior, one hour southeast of Thunder Bay. Stunning park scenery includes cliffs reaching heights of 240 metres. Panoramic views of Lake Superior are unforgettable. A fall photo workshop is planned in the park for September 27-29. Cabin accommodation is available in the park in the fall, in addition to camping.
Mississagi scores top marks with hikers. Among the park’s fifty kilometres of trails is the seven kilometre Helenbar Lookout Trail. The 130 metre high point on the trail has great views of Helenbar Lake. Bring binoculars to spot the ospreys below you!
Ouimet Canyon is just off the Trans-Canada Highway between Thunder Bay and Sleeping Giant. A short one kilometre trail leads to two platforms overlooking the canyon which is so deep and cold that three species of Arctic plants flourish in it.
Barron Canyon is one of a series of gorges that run along a geological fault line in the eastern part of Algonquin Provincial Park. The canyon is accessed from the Sand Lake Gate entrance. A trail runs along the north rim of the spectacular 100 metre deep Barron Canyon. Six stops on the trail explain the formation and history of the canyon.
Restoule is about sixty-five kilometres southeast of North Bay. Besides terrific paddling opportunities, this park has an extensive hiking trail network that crests several scenic lookouts. Fire Tower Trail takes you one hundred metres above Stormy Lake and offers spectacular views westward towards the French River.
Killbear is one of Ontario’s busiest provincial parks, but come fall its sandy beaches and granite rocks are less crowded making this park a fabulous choice for a fall camping trip. The 3.5 kilometre Lookout Point Trail has a breathtaking view of Georgian Bay. A trail guide explains the ecology of the area.
Wasaga Beach protects the largest undisturbed tract of parabolic dunes on the Great Lakes with over 50 kms of trails. The Pine trail is 6 kms and winds through many of the unique areas that make this place so valuable. Rare pine-oak woodlands, wet cedar sloughs, rich beech-maple forests and scattered prairie remnants are just some of the highlights.
Awenda is located north of Midland, and includes the Nipissing Bluffs (almost 60m). They are the remains of an ancient shoreline, and provide an excellent perch to see fall colours. The park has over 30 km of trails, but the best one for fall colour viewing can also be cycled. The 13km Awenda Bluff Trail is not too strenuous. It’s a great fall outing – with spectacular views of Georgian Bay including Giant’s Tomb.
Charleston Lake Provincial Park is northeast of Kingston. A great fall hiking destination, this park was first inhabited by native peoples. It became a destination for wealthy cottagers in the early 1900s. The new Blue Mountain Trail can be up to ten kilometres long depending on your route. It takes you to the highest point of land in eastern Ontario.
Samuel de Champlain is easy to access from the Trans-Canada Highway east of North Bay. Day use hiking trails in this park include the Red Pine Trail, which has two lookouts with sweeping views of the Mattawa River Valley’s fall colours.
Killarney Provincial Park’s La Cloche Silhouette Trail is a long distance backpacking trail demanding good physical condition and a high degree of hiking ability. A highlight is the ascent to Silver Peak. At 539 metres above sea level, it is the highest point in the La Cloche Range. On a clear day, the view encompasses the entire park, the City of Sudbury forty-five kilometres to the north east and Georgian Bay to the southwest.
The 48.5 kilometre Coastal Trail at Lake Superior Provincial Park follows the rocky shoreline of Lake Superior. There are spectacular views of the great lake from several vantage points. A large number of designated campsites are on the trail as well as several access points if you can’t do the whole trail at once.