Fall offers a whole new idea of camping and hiking: cool temperatures, no bugs and beautiful views of golden forests. With reasons like that, it’s a great idea to spend your autumn weekends outside. Ontario has some of the best provincial parks, perfect for camping or a day trip. Here are the best Ontario Provincial Parks to visit in fall.
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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” – Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
There’s something invigorating about waking up in a crisp autumn morning, the sounds of the forest gently reach your ears. You may not want to get out of your warm sleeping bag, but just knowing how beautiful it will be once you peek your head out of the tent drives you. That feeling is what I love about camping in fall.
Ontario is the prime fall leaf-peeping location. We’ve got a mix of Carolinian Forests, Canadian Shield, the Greenbelt and the Oak Moraine. Basically, Ontario has a lot of natural areas that surround cities, making it easy to hop in the car and take yourself somewhere beautiful. Ontario Provincial Parks are perfect for seeing the fall foliage, but not all parks are open in the fall.
Park opening and closing dates change each year. For up-to-date season dates, visit the Ontario Parks website. Here are the best Ontario Provincial Parks to visit in fall.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Open: Day-use areas are open year-round. Campgrounds vary, but some are open until the end of October.
Don’t miss: Views of the autumn leaves from the Lookout Trail
Algonquin has to be the most famous provincial park in Canada. Many confuse it for a national park, but it’s not. It is, however, the largest and the oldest provincial park in Canada. Located in the Ontario Highlands between Ottawa and Georgian Bay, Algonquin is one of the most accessible parks, since a highway cuts right through it.
The abundance of wildlife, the ample hiking trails that lead to beautiful vistas and the several canoe routes in the park make Algonquin one of the best Ontario Provincial Parks to visit in fall.
But because of the ease of access, it means that this park is super busy in prime leaf-peeping season. You’ll get to see the gorgeous colours, but you might be sharing that moment with a lot of other visitors.
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Arrowhead Provincial Park
Open: Camping and day-use areas are open until mid-October, then open again in December for winter camping.
Don’t miss: The views from Big Bend Lookout
Located in the heart of the Muskoka region, the abundance of lakes and trees make Arrowhead a great place to go leaf-peeping. There are some great trails in the park. One leads to an awesome lookout over the big bend, an oxbow of the Big East River. Another leads to a waterfall, Stubb’s Falls and pedestrian bridge.
Bon Echo Provincial Park
Open: Camping and day-use areas are open until mid-October
Don’t miss: The view from Mazinaw Rock.
Also located in the Ontario Highlands, Bon Echo Provincial Park showcases beautiful autumn colours against the dramatic backdrop of Mazinaw Rock. The sheer cliff has over 200 Indigenous pictographs.
There are several easy to moderate hiking trails within the park. One takes you to the top of the cliff and gives you a great lookout over the lake. Just imagine all those trees covered in beautiful fall colours. Breathtaking.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
Open: The day-use park is open year-round
Don’t miss: The viewpoint from Meadow Trail
The Forks of the Credit is a leaf-peepers dream. The park is a day-use only park located in the Credit River Watershed in southern Ontario. The Niagara Escarpment runs right through the park, and so does the famous Bruce Trail.
There’s some great hiking within the park, including the Bruce Trail, with some beautiful vistas. And the colours, oh man, the fall colours are perfect. You can also take the scenic Forks of the Credit Road and enjoy the autumn leaves from your car.
Because of the proximity from the city and lack of parking, Forks of the Credit can because very congested in the fall. Go on a weekday to avoid most of the crowds.
French River Provincial Park
Open: Until the end of October.
Don’t Miss: The “Voices of the River” exhibit at the park’s visitor centre.
The beauty of the Canadian Shield is something that all people should experience. The smooth rocks, sweet-smelling pines and hidden lakes make this area a haven for outdoor adventurers.
If you’re into backcountry camping, then French River Provincial Park is for you. Deep in the heart of the forest, and situated along the historically significant French River, this park offers backcountry hiking and camping, making you feel like you’re miles from civilization.
Grundy Lake Provincial Park
Open: Until mid-October
Don’t miss: The Milky Way sitting on Poplar Beach
Grundy Lake Provincial Park is located just south of French River, but still in the Canadian Shield. There are several inland lakes that are perfect for paddling so that you can see those gorgeous fall colours from the water.
This park is also quite large, so even if there are lots of people are, which is typical on weekends, it is still comfortable. There are several trails that lead you to or around the lakes. And there are beaches you can sit on and watch the sunset.
Killarney Provincial Park
Open: Camping and day-use areas are open year-round
Don’t miss: The view of the park from the Crack.
Even further north than French River is Killarney Provincial Park, the park that has inspired the Group of Seven painters in their quest to capture the feeling of the Canadian wilderness.
There’s one campground and several backcountry sites, plus several stunning hikes for ample autumn colour viewing.
Killarney is known for their incredible fall colours, especially when viewed from the Crack, a difficult 4-hour hike. But this park is also open year-round, which means being able to see the fall colours as long as they’re available!
Killbear Provincial Park
Open: Until the end of October
Don’t miss: The Tree looking out over Georgian Bay
Killbear Provincial Park has to be my favourite Ontario provincial park to visit in fall. The deciduous forest, coupled with the gorgeous views of Georgian Bay, make this a popular spot in the fall.
They’ve recently piloted staying open longer. I was here on the last weekend of October, and the colours were so vibrant. It actually snowed overnight, and we woke up so one of the most magical sights.
Killbear has some great trails with awesome viewpoints, so make sure to bring your hiking boots.
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
Open: The day-use park is open year-round
Don’t miss: The view from Lookout Trail
Mono Cliffs Provincial Park is located on the beautiful Niagara Escarpment. You start on the base of the ridge and work your way through the moss-covered forest and geological formations and make your way up onto the ridge.
From there, you’ll have a beautiful view of the valley. You can imagine how gorgeous the view is with lit with brilliant shades of orange, yellow and red.
The Bruce Trail cuts right through the park, so make sure to check out this part of the 800+ kilometre hike.
Pinery Provincial Park
Open: Camping and day-use areas are open year-round
Don’t miss: Sunset on Lake Huron from anywhere along the 10km beach.
I first visited Pinery Provincial Park in the late summer/ early fall, and it was wonderful. The soft sand was warm to the touch, and the water was nice enough to stick your feet in. But the whole reason to go was to see the brilliant sunsets that were voted one of the best in the world by National Geographic.
The Pinery is a bit different than the parks on this list, mostly because it’s the furthest south, which means the colours will change later in the year. The park’s famous feature is the sand dune ecosystem, but they also have numerous short trails that loop around the forests.
Old Ausable Channel, a waterway that cuts through the middle of the park, is perfect for paddling. Hop in a canoe and go leaf-peeping from the water.
Bonus – Bruce Peninsula National Park
Open: The park is open year-round, with limited camping in the winter. The visitor centre and camping are open until the end of October.
Don’t miss: The view from the Visitor Centre lookout tower
You can’t talk about fall in Ontario without mentioning Bruce Peninsula National Park. Located near Tobermory along the Bruce Peninsula, this national park is likely Ontario’s most famous scenic natural areas. The dramatic cliffs with that enticing turquoise water, makes this national park perfect to spend any weekend.
In fall, the colours come to life. Bring your hiking boots for the several trails within the park that you won’t want to miss.
Its notoriety makes this park a popular one. The best way to experience Bruce Peninsula National Park is to book a camping stay.
The best Ontario Parks to visit in fall
To recap, here are the best Ontario Parks to visit in fall:
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- Arrowhead Provincial Park
- Bon Echo Provincial Park
- Forks of the Credit Provincial Park
- French River Provincial Park
- Grundy Lake Provincial Park
- Killarney Provincial Park
- Killbear Provincial Park
- Mono Cliffs Provincial Park
- Pinery Provincial Park
- Bonus – Bruce Peninsula National Park
Fall in Ontario is a beautiful thing, from the crisp air to the vibrant array of colours. The best way to enjoy fall is to get out in nature and walk among the trees. This list gives you some of the best Ontario Provincial Parks to visit in fall, but there are so many more to explore! Fall colours only peak for a few weeks, so what are you waiting for?