When it comes to fall, Ontario’s southwest can be overlooked.
While crowds of people flock to Algonquin Provincial Park or the Niagara Escarpment, there are many places elsewhere in the province that showcase the beauty of Ontario’s changing colours.
What better way to see the colours than by tackling a trail? Here are just a few of our best-kept secrets in southwestern Ontario:
Pinery’s oak trees hold on to their green colour much later into the season than the beech-maple forests elsewhere in the province.
If you haven’t taken a trip to see spectacular fall colours by mid-October, Pinery may be your chance.
To help guarantee access for day use, our visitors will now be able to plan their trip ahead of time and obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance.
For more information, please visit our website.
Riverside Trail (1 km)
For a relaxed walk, Riverside Trail has fantastic fall colours.
The trail meanders down to the edge of the Old Ausable Channel, where a boardwalk will take you alongside the water and through wetlands.
Enjoy the burnt oranges and deep reds of oaks and the bright yellows of aspens as they reflect in the clear, glass-like water of the channel.
Riverside Trail is perfect for a light hike. Stop by the seating areas and platforms to view wildlife or simply enjoy a rest. This trail is just the right length for those who enjoy shorter walks and easier terrain.
Cedar Trail (2.3 km)
If you’re looking for something truly different, Cedar Trail is where you can see the full spectrum of fall.
The huge oaks and their rich colours blend beautifully with the bright yellows of the Fragrant Sumac.
Not to be overshadowed by the trees, pockets of deep purple and red tall grasses pop next to bright goldenrods and asters.
Finish off your fall colour rainbow with some blue by following the trail extension out to Lake Huron.
This trail follows a loop starting and finishing at the Visitor Centre.
Sassafrass Trail (1 km)
This is one of the most colourful trails in Pinery during the fall months.
The lobed leaves of the Sassafrass tree turn brilliant shades of orange, yellow, and red.
For this trail, you will need a good pair of shoes and plenty of water.
It’s a steep hike up to the top of the tallest dune ridge in the park, but well worth the extra effort!
Located 20 minutes northeast of Rondeau Provincial Park, Clear Creek Forest is a short trail that immerses visitors in a truly amazing ecosystem.
Upon entering the trail, you are enveloped by old growth forest. Large Sugar Maples, American Beech, and Basswood trees form a thick canopy overhead.
Because of the thick canopy, the understory vegetation is sparse. This gives the forest an enchanted feeling, as if you were tucked away under a blanket of tree cover.
Wander over boardwalks and along the edge of a valley to a thick meadow and shrubland, offering a great opportunity to view migrant birds and butterflies.
If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse or hear the call of a Great Horned Owl or Eastern Screech Owl.
The park protects a priceless remnant of Carolinian forest. Stick around for the golden yellows of Tulip Trees, Shagbark Hickories, and spicebush.
Harrison Trail (8 km one way, 16 km return)
Travel the entire length of the park, from the entrance to the southernmost tip, on the linear Harrison Trail.
This multi-purpose trail can be used for walking, biking, or running, and is accessible for mobility aids, including wheelchairs and strollers.
The Harrison Trail is an excellent wildlife corridor because it is wide and flat. Keep your eyes peeled to spot some cool critters!
It passes through a variety of habitats including Oak Woodland, Oak Savanna, small prairie openings, and Carolinian forest.
Once you add in the fall colours, this trail can’t be missed.
Spicebush Trail (1.5 km)
Looking for a gentle hike? Rondeau’s Spicebush Trail is a short loop with brilliant fall colours.
It winds through areas of dense understory and towering deciduous trees, with a number of boardwalks allowing visitors to traverse the sloughs.
True to its name, the trail is lined with Northern Spicebush shrubs, creating a faint, yet sweet, earthy aroma when the wind sweeps through the trees.
The trail’s unique habitats form the perfect conditions for wildlife viewing. Reptiles and amphibians of all sorts chill out in wetlands, and a huge variety of insects buzz around.
Spot forest birds, wetland birds, or even catch a weasel slinking through the fallen trees.
Earl Rowe offers everything you need for the perfect weekend: plentiful picnic spots, scenic hiking trails, and a lookout platform with panoramic views.
Rainbow Run Trail (11 km)
This multi-use trail gives you a taste of everything that makes Earl Rowe so special.
Watch the cherry, ash, and dogwood trees transform to striking shades of yellow, orange, and red as you hike or cycle the path.
Your route covers wetlands, meanders through campgrounds, and guides you to Earl Rowe Lake through forest and open fields filled with fall wildflowers.
Rainbow Run takes you past the park’s fish ladder on the Boyne River.
Between September and late October, watch salmon leap up the ladder as they migrate upstream from Georgian Bay to lay their eggs.
Lookout Trail (4 km)
For a stunning fall vista, take the Lookout Trail extension of the Rainbow Run loop.
A moderate incline leads you to a beautiful lookout platform with sweeping views of Earl Rowe and the surrounding area.
It’s a must-see to get a bird’s-eye view of the park’s bright fall colours.
Wander through an autumn paradise
Keep an eye on our Fall Colour Report so you don’t miss out on peak season.
Find a park for your fall colour excursion!