Fall hikes in Ontario Parks

No bugs, temperatures that are just right and lots of trails to choose from. Ontario Parks offer the perfect fall hikes. Trails range in length and degree of difficulty and are available for any level of hiker.  Best of all, they’ll lead you to some of Ontario’s best fall colour views.Killarney
Below are some trail suggestions, but there are plenty more in each of these parks and many more in other Ontario Parks. Use the Park Locator to search “Hiking” under activities for a list of parks. Last year, we posted favourite fall colour vantage points, and, if you love to capture the fall colours with your camera, check out this professional photographer’s tips.

Algonquin, Killarney and Lake Superior are three of several Ontario Parks that have overnight backpacking trails as well as good day hike choices.

Algonquin Provincial Park’s Highland Trail can be accessed from the trailhead near the Mew Lake Campground. It has 19 and 35 km loops and is a challenging overnight backpacking adventure with steep climbs, side slopes and sharp turns. Several scenic lookouts provide great vistas of the park.  A good trail for day-users is the park’s self-guided Track and Tower interpretive trail off of Hwy 60 at km 25. It is a 7.7 km loop with a spectacular lookout over Cache Lake. An optional 5.5 km rail trail leads to Mew Lake.

Killarney Provincial Park’s La Cloche Silhouette Trail can be a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip. The Group of Seven painted in several Ontario Parks including Killarney and many of the Killarney scenes captured on their canvases are accessed from the 100 km La Cloche trail.

The rugged trail climbs the La Cloche mountain range. Georgian Bay’s pink granite islets can be seen off in the distance. If you choose to day-hike it instead, start at either end of the trail loop. Both start in the park’s main campground. Even on the day-hike, you’ll be treated to views of the park’s famous sapphire lakes and the fall colours set against the white of the bedrock hills are unforgettable. A good half-day hike at Killarney is the Granite Ridge trail. It follows the Georgian Bay shoreline and offers magnificent views of the Georgian Bay Islands as well as the La Cloche Mountains. The 2.3 km hike is about a two-hour walk with plenty of viewpoints.  Looking for a car-free trip to Killarney?  The new non-profit Parkbus Service has a scheduled run between Toronto and Grundy Lake and Killarney Provincial Parks on September 22-25.

Lake Superior Provincial Park’s rugged Coastal Trail is another long distance trail that is a favourite with seasoned hikers. Park roads provide access points along the trail making it possible to do a day hike here too, but be sure to get the lay of the land before you go. A very scenic, yet demanding, part of the trail is found between the Agawa Rock pictographs and the Agawa River where you have to hike between or under huge slabs of rock and then walk along narrow paths high above Lake Superior. Orphan Lake might be a better choice for less experienced hikers. It takes you through forest, past Orphan Lake and along the Lake Superior coast to the mouth of the Baldhead River. A.Y. Jackson, one of the famous Group of Seven painters hiked and painted along this trail. The Awausee Trail is classified as difficult but if you’re an experienced hiker, it’s well worth the effort. The trail takes you high above Lake Superior and Agawa Bay and promises a spectacular fall view. Another is the Towab Trail. It was named for a legendary Ojibwe fishing guide who used to lead anglers to secret pools along the Agawa River. One of the best ways to access it is to board the Algoma Central Railway at Frater and request a stop at Milepost #107. From Milepost 107, you have to bushwhack down into the valley a short distance to the Towab Trail. A short hike upstream will lead you to Agawa Falls. Then it’s back down the trail, along the Agawa River to Frater Road – either to pick up your vehicle or a short walk back up to Frater if you don’t have two vehicles to do a shuttle.

Looking for a fall challenge? Consider re-visiting the locations of some of the Group of Seven paintings and taking your own photograph or painting your own artistic interpretation of the site. Check out the experiences of Jim and Sue Waddington who have visited 160 such sites over the past few decades!

Where ever you decide to hike, Ontario Parks’ staff recommend that you prepare a travel plan and share it with friends and family. Proper footwear is also a must, especially in case of wet weather and slippery conditions.