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Fall Colour Report

Seeing Fall Colors in Ontario Provincial Parks

The end of summer is here and with the nip in the air, it’s time to plan the perfect day trip to see the beautiful colors of fall in Ontario’s many provincial parks. While social media and pop culture sites are filled with people planning for Halloween, enjoying the colors of fall is a much faster way to begin celebrating the season than waiting till the end of October. This article lists the best parks in the province to experience the splendor of the fall season and perhaps bring along a picnic basket to enjoy a perfect day with your loved ones.

Fall is an epic season to spend in Ontario and is the best time to plan a road trip. The scenery in the entire province is breathtaking, even if you don’t take a detour into one of the many provincial parks. As of now, the report from different provincial parks indicate several parks are still lush green, but there have been sightings of some pockets gradually changing color. Rest assured, by mid-October, Ontario will be a riot of red, yellow and orange! Here are some of the best parks to plan a camp or trek:

Algonquin Provincial Park

Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Algonquin Provincial Park in southeastern Ontario has many trails and ideal spots to soak in the vibrant fall color. The park has been around for over 100 years and has offered great sights, activities, and events for all those decades. While this time of year the park is still green in most parts, there will be sightings of some golden foliage near the West Gate.

When to Go and What to Do

The best times to visit are from mid-September to mid-October. If you want to avoid the crowds, you may want to go on a weekday. Fall weekends are a busy time for the park and especially the gates are a favorite spot for families and people to get together to enjoy the colors. You could try to plan and drive in through the East Gate, which tends to be less crowded. Even a drive along the Algonquin North is highly recommended. The highlight of the fall colors is when the sugar maple and the red maple peak, usually towards the last week of September.

You can enjoy the many trails and routes in the park, stay overnight at one of the many campsites and who knows, perhaps you’ll even spot a herd of moose!

Fees

The entry fee is $17.00/day/vehicle. There are discounts available for senior citizens and Ontarians with disabilities, although an ID will be required. The fee increases to $20.00/day/vehicle on weekends and statutory holidays between 8th September and 31st September.

A valid park permit must be displayed on the dashboard of your car at all times. Here’s a list of FAQs about the park.


Bon Echo Provincial Park

Bon Echo, Ontario Canada

Located in the southeastern part of Ontario, Bon Echo Provincial Park houses several lakes, including portions of Mazinaw Lake, which is known to be one of the deepest in Ontario. Owing to its higher elevation, Bon Echo Park often sees fall colors sooner than other parks in the province. But every year, of course, is different.

When to Go and What to Do

Typically, mid-September to late October is an excellent time to visit the park. The western portion of the park often has foliage which changes color later than the rest of the park and lasts till after Thanksgiving. The park offers excellent hiking trails, ranging in difficulty and length. Trails are starting from a little more than half a mile in length to 10 miles, and each of these trails offers unbelievable sights of fall colors. There are also all kinds of camping experiences available — RV, car camping, roofed accommodations, etc. Other than the fall colors, Canada’s largest visible Aboriginal pictographs at Mazinaw Rock are a must see!

Fees

The daily vehicle permit is $11.25/day/vehicle. If you want to engage in the other activities, like rent a camping cabin or go canoeing, the charges are extra. Make sure to see which areas in the park are pet-friendly if you’re interested in bringing your furry friends.


Bonnechere Provincial Park

Downtown Renfrew, Bonnechere Waterfalls

Located in Round Lake Renfrew County, Bonnechere Provincial Park has many great spots to enjoy the fall colors. According to the September Fall Colors Report, the park is still green. But once the colors start turning, it is a sight to behold.

When to Go and What to Do

While the park is still predominantly green, the colors are expected to change come mid-September. The park is open until the end of the Thanksgiving weekend and is a great place to enjoy the fall season. When the colors change, the best ways to enjoy the plethora is to canoe down the Bonnechere River to Jack’s Chute (a distance of 3 kilometers) or follow the Foot Prints in Time (FIT) trail. The trail explains the history of the province and the area through 13 giant footprints which are marked with educational info. You can also bike along the park roads if you want to enjoy the fresh air more intimately.

Fees

The park fees are the same as most other provincial parks. The daily vehicle permit is $11.25 which can go up to $20 on some weekends and holidays. If you want to rent a cabin, an additional vehicle, etc., the charges are extra.


Frontenac Provincial Park

Fall Colours and Early Morning Mist

Located near the town of Sydenham, Frontenac Provincial Park is a government-certified natural environment park. You can enjoy facilities at the park through the year, including cross-country skiing in December but the views during fall are unparalleled.

When to Go and What to Do

While the leaves have still not changed color, you can typically enjoy fall at the park through mid-September to mid-October. The best way to enjoy the colors, if you have the stamina and love a little thrill, is to participate in the Frontenac Challenge. The challenge involves hiking through the 11 main hiking loops in the park through September and October. The event starts on 1st September and ends on the 31st of October. The trail covers over 70 miles over the two months. Upon completion, you can enjoy the celebrations at the free barbecue hosted by the park on 10th November. You can register for the challenge at the park office or call 613-376-3489.

If you want to enjoy something more relaxed than that, you can cover some of the shorter trails on your own or enjoy a day of paddling in any of Frontenac’s 22 lakes.

Fees

The entry fees for day use vehicles is $14.50/day/vehicle. The charges for reservation for campsites, bookings, etc., are separate. Note that the campsites are only accessible by hiking or paddling and you cannot take your vehicles up to them.


Killarney Provincial Park

Killarney At Its Best

Killarney Provincial Park lies on the Georgian Bay in the Ontario province. There have already been reports of fall colors appearing in parts of the park. The park is spread over 250 sq miles. The view of the Bay’s pink granite, of the white quartzite ridges of White Cloche Mountains and the 50 lakes nestled among the Jack Pine Hills are some of the best sights in the province, regardless of the season.

When to Go and What to Do

By late August, early September, you can start planning your trip to the park to see the colors changing. The fall colors are expected to stay through September and peak in mid-October. The best locations to view the colors are at Sunset Rock, a short trek between site 77 and 78 in the George Lake Campground. You can also try the Granite Ridge, Chikanishing, The Crack and Lake of the Woods Day Trails. During peak season, the colors of the Oak, Maple, Poplar, and Birch trees are a sight to behold.

Fees

The day use vehicle permit is $14.50. The charges for the cabins, backcountry campings, etc., are extra.

Final Thoughts on Fall Colors

The five listed above are only a few of the many parks in the province. There is a whole list of parks you can pick to enjoy the fall, depending on your convenience. A list of the Ontario provincial parks is provided here along with the fall color report.

A few things you may want to remember while planning trips to the park are:

● Ensure you know what the rules are — where can you park? Where can you camp? Are pets allowed? Here’s a list of advisories for all the parks.
● Make sure you dress appropriately. Parts of the park can get chilly, irrespective of season. It’s best to carry a raincoat or a windcheater for safety.
● The trails can be long and tiring, so make sure you wear the right footwear.
● Pack water, small snacks, a map or a compass and ensure your phone is fully charged (though parts of the parks may not have service).

The Ontario Parks website offers a handy list of FAQs here.

So go ahead and plan that road trip! It’s the end of summer, after all!

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