14 Best Places to See Fall Colours in Ontario

Fall is the best time of year to visit Ontario. The entire province is alight in fiery reds and oranges from every tree.

Growing up, I used to look forward to fall – even though it meant going back to school. Not only am I a fall baby, but getting to explore the Ontario fall colours was one of my favourite activities.

If you’re looking to spot some incredible fall foliage in Canada, you’ll want to visit these best places to see fall colours in Ontario.

After 25 years of being fall-obsessed, I’ve found the best spots in the province for you to enjoy the autumn leaves at their best.

Don’t miss out on seeing the leaves this year! Find out where to view the fall colours in Ontario now.

Looking to get around via car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!

When is the Best Time to Visit Ontario to See Autumn Leaves

Autumn in Ontario officially begins September 21st.

However, September often lets the summer weather linger. If you visit in September, you’re likely to be disappointed when only a few trees have a sprinkling of leaves on your hikes.

Instead, visit during October for the best views of fall in Ontario. You’ll see the bright fall colours at their fullest from October 10th to November 10th most years.

Unfortunately, weather is unpredictable. Since the fall colours are dictated by weather, you’ll need to check local guides on fall colour forecasts in Ontario to be sure that you’re visiting at the best time this year.

14 Best Places to See Fall Colours in Ontario

Muskoka Lake fall colours in Ontario

1. Muskoka

Muskoka is undoubtedly the best place to see fall colours in Ontario.

Located a 2 hour drive north of Toronto, Muskoka is the general term for the area around the Muskoka Lakes. The area is stunning in all seasons, but in autumn, the Sugar Maples reflect their bright colours onto the still lakes.

It’s very easy to visit Muskoka for stunning views of the fall foliage.

As Canada’s premier cottage country, it has a number of cozy cottages for rent all year long. You can stay at a lakeside cabin with views of the over 6,000 square kilometres of boreal forests.

There are a number of places in Muskoka to get the best views of the fall colours in Ontario:

  • Georgian Bay Island National Park
  • Lion’s Lookout in Huntsville
  • Huckleberry Rock in Lake Muskoka
  • Red Leaves Resort (the JW Marriot)
  • Driving the local highways

My favourite way to view the autumn leaves in Ontario is by driving the 80 km/h highways in Muskoka. The winding roads with towering maples and beautiful Canadian shield makes for an incredibly scenic drive.

How to Get Here: Muskoka is 2 hours north of Toronto. Follow the 400 Highway north to Muskoka. Your turn off will depend on where you’re staying on the lake.

Cost: Expensive to stay in a hotel, but cheap if you decide to camp or visit for a day trip

Where to Stay: The JW Marriott is an amazing resort or stay at your own lakefront cottage!

Algonquin Park fall colours in Ontario

2. Centennial Ridges, Algonquin Park

Visit Algonquin Park in autumn to see the true splendour of Ontario’s maple leaves.

Don't Forget to Pack the Essentials!

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This provincial park is one of the best spots in Ontario to enjoy nature. In summer, you’ll see deer, moose, and beavers. In the fall, the foliage is the true star.

You’ll need to pack your hiking boots to tackle the Centennial Ridges Trail, my favourite hike in Algonquin. The trail meanders up a cliff for 10 km until you reach vistas looking out over a variety of lakes and the stunning forest.

I visited in early November and missed the red and orange colours of the leaves. Instead, I got to marvel at the yellows and oranges that highlighted the forest below me.

The Ridges hike is for intermediate hikers. If you’re a beginner, check out one of the easier trails in Algonquin where you can walk 1km and see similar sights of the Canadian shield, the autumn leaves, and the beautiful landscapes.

There’s a reason Algonquin Park inspired the famous Canadian painters of old.

How to Get There: Take Hwy 60 east from Hwy 11 at Huntsville (if coming from Muskoka)

Cost: Parking in the provincial park costs $12-21 (depending on the size of your vehicle) per day. This fee is waived if you have a national park pass.

Where to Stay: There are few lodges in Algonquin, but the best place to stay is at one of the campgrounds. It costs $12.43/person. You’ll get to see the beautiful leaves at all times of day by staying amongst them.

Rattlesnake point place to see fall colours in Ontario

3. Rattlesnake Point, Milton

Plan a Toronto day trip to visit Rattlesnake Point and Mount Nemo in Milton. These epic fall colours are easily accessed from the city, with year round hikes that are beginner-friendly.

Rattlesnake Point is the unfortunately ominous name of the lookout point with views of the Niagara Escarpment and the beginning of the Bruce Trail. From the top, you’ll be able to see red maple leaves stretching far into the horizon.

Make the most of your visit by also stopping at Mount Nemo and hiking the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail to Crawford Lake. You’ll get to see the remains of an Iroquoian village, a meromictic lake, and have amazing opportunities for fall Instagram pictures.

As a bonus, this hike is dog-friendly, so your four-legged pal can join you on your hunt for the best places to see fall colours in Ontario.

How to Get There: Search “Rattlesnake Point Gatehouse” on your GPS. You’ll be taking Highway 407 from Toronto.

Cost: $7 to enter the park.

Where to Stay: Check out this cozy country home!

Tobermory fall colours over the blue grotto

4. Tobermory

View the rich colours of the autumn leaves in Ontario as they come to an end at a rich turquoise lake.

Tobermory, located on the Bruce Peninsula, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ontario. It is famous for its hiking trails, the Blue Grotto, and the epic fall foliage.

You can visit Tobermory from Toronto by hiking the Bruce Trail, an incredible pilgrimage that will take you halfway across Ontario. For others who aren’t looking to walk over 400km, you can easily drive to visit the area.

Visit the Bruce Peninsula National Park to head to the lookout point. Here you’ll get the best view of the fall colours from a 65 foot tall tower. With nothing in your way, you’ll see the untouched beauty of a Canadian autumn.

How to Get There: Drive north on Highway 6.

Cost: Parking costs of $12 per day. Camping costs may apply.

Where to Stay: Check out this cute B&B or this waterfront cottage!

Dundas Peak autumn leaves from the peak lookout in Ontario

5. Dundas Peak, Hamilton

The Dundas Trails is one of my favourite hiking destinations near Toronto. It leads to the Dundas Peak, looking over the Spencer Gorge Conservation Area in Hamilton. This vista rivals the views at Centennial Ridges in Algonquin, but without as far to go from Ontario’s major cities, like Toronto.

Hike to the top of Dundas Peak for a birds eye view of Ontario’s amazing fall leaves. Come in October to see the brightest reds imaginable as they light up the forests below.

Not only is Dundas Peak awesome for fall leaves; it’s also home to Hamilton’s best waterfalls. On your hike, you’ll pass Webster Falls and Tews Falls, where you can take some epic nature photographs.

Be careful when hiking the Dundas Peak, as the lookout isn’t fenced in. You don’t want to have a hiking accident on a fun Ontario fall leaves viewing trip!

I always stay a few feet back from the edge, and I’m the kind of person that routinely dangles my feet over cliffs.

How to Get There: Head towards Guelph from Toronto. Continue on Highway 5 towards Paris, Ontario. From there, follow directions to the Dundas Trail.

Cost: $10 for parking

Where to Stay: The unique Barracks Inn is a great place to stay!

Agawa Canyon views over the fall colours in the trees

6. Agawa Canyon, Sault Ste. Marie

Agawa Canyon was made famous for inspiring the Canadian Group of Seven – natural landscape painters.

The best way to view the fall leaves in this northern Ontario area is to take one of the coach trains. Sit back and let the red and orange leaves brush past you as you look out at the many lakes and the rusty red of the Canadian shield.

Agawa Canyon is so well known for their fall leaves that they have a GPS track commentary that you can follow to learn about the area as you’re exploring the best autumn leaves in Ontario.

The coach train descends into Agawa Canyon, created over 1.2 million years ago by Canada’s last ice age. The canyon is a great spot for hiking, waterfall spotting, and picnicking.

How to Get There: Get the tourist train into the Agawa Canyon from Sault Ste. Marie

Cost: The train costs $122 CAD

Where to Stay: The Delta Suites are the perfect waterfront stay. Check it out!

view through the autumn leaves at the Thousand Islands in autumn

7. Thousand Islands

The Thousand Islands area is an incredible archipelago of over 1,864 islands you’d never believe was located in Canada. It sounds like a beach getaway, but it’s actually a perfect fall leaf viewing destination!

Located near Kingston, the Thousand Islands speckle the St. Lawrence River, varying in size from 40 miles long to single cabin properties. It’s a unique landscape where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the fall colours in Ontario.

The St. Lawrence is one of the most beautiful bodies of water in Canada, carving a pathway from the Atlantic Ocean deep into Ontario. You’ll get to admire the river, surrounded by quaint cottages and maple trees, when you visit in autumn.

The best spot to view the fall colours in Thousand Islands, Ontario is from the Thousand Islands Tower. This 130m observation deck offers panoramic views across the St. Lawrence. Try to spot all of the Thousand Islands as you take in the mix of green, orange, and yed leaves throughout the landscape.

Technically, the “tower” is actually three towers, which means three times as many opportunities to view the autumn leaves!

How to Get There: Take Exit 661 off Highway 401 onto Highway 137 south.

Cost: $12/person

Where to Stay: The adorable Seaway Manor B&B is the best spot to stay for your getaway!

Red muskoka chair overlooking the autumn leaves at Blue Mountain, Ontario

8. Blue Mountain, Collingwood

Blue Mountain is best known as a ski destination. But, much like Mont Tremblant, there’s so much more to do in the off-season.

Leave the city behind and head to Collingwood, a beautiful area full of ski chalets and hiking trails. In fall, the area become painted with golden sunshine and blazing leaves that are so stunning it’s hard to tear your eyes away.

There are many ways to view Ontario fall colours in Blue Mountain. You can take the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster through the forest, rushing past the leaves at high speeds.

Or climb amongst the tree tops at Timber Challenge Ropes Course.

My favourite way to view fall in Blue Mountain, Ontario is to take the open-air gondola to the top of the mountains. You’ll get the best views of the fall colours and of Blue Mountain Village.

Don’t forget to stop by the Apple Pie Trail to pick fresh apples and eat your way through the best pies in Ontario!

How to Get There: Take the Highway 400N.

Cost: Varies by activity. Free to hike.

Where to Stay: Stay on the lake for beautiful autumn leaves at the Westin Trillium House!

St Catherines fall colours

9. St. Catherines

St. Catherines is one of the best places to view fall colours in Ontario.

Visit any time of year to witness the majesty of the Niagara Escarpment. This city is home to lustrous gardens, vast green pastures, and picturesque parks. You’ll get to experience some of the best spots in Canada, from the Niagara Falls (nearby) to the Bruce Trail to Decew Falls.

I recommend visiting St. Catherines in October to see the stunning maple trees in full fire along the canals. It’s a spot frequented by professional photographers every year to get an epic shot of the foliage.

Don’t forget to stop into the town of St Catherines to see the historic carousel at Lakeside Park, visit the museums, or taste the local wines. It even has a renowned vegan doughnut shop to try!

How to Get There: Take the QEW/403 West. Follow it to Highway 406 South

Cost: Free

Where to Stay: Don’t miss out on a unique stay at the Juniper Inn!

Niagara on the lake in autumn

10. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Not only is Niagara-on-the-Lake one of the most beautiful towns in Ontario, but it also has some of the best Ontario fall colours!

Visit in October to attend a Shaw Festival performance by the renowned theatre group. You’ll be just in time for harvest season at the local wineries.

The best place to spot the autumn leaves is the Niagara River Recreation Trail. Walk or cycle this route to pass the changing leaves and the quaint city.

It’ll take you away from the adorable town, but you’ll have plenty of time to return for a bite in town before you head home.

For more great spots to see the autumn colours, check out the local parks in the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, where you can even roll down a hill into the falling leaves. Or go for a walk by Lake Ontario to witness the large trees framing the lake.

No matter where you view the leaves in Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll get some of the prettiest fall views in Ontario.

How to Get There: Take the QEW West. Follow signs to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Cost: Free

Where to Stay: Stay at the classic Prince of Wales hotel with epic views of fall colours from every room!

Prince Edward County fall colours winding through the highway

11. Prince Edward County

Known for its charm, Prince Edward County is the perfect fall getaway. Rent a cabin on the lake for waterfront views, where you can see the fiery trees framing Lake Ontario.

Hike North Beach Provincial Park for the best autumn leaves. It has a romantic feel, as you stroll along the boardwalk beside Lake Ontario.

This 1km walk is easy to do.

Visit in the evening to watch the sunset over the beach as you stroll. You’ll see the red and yellow hues of the trees meld perfectly with the reflection of the sun in the lake.

Want to view the leaves without having to walk? Drive from the Loyalist Parkway to Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park, through Waupoos, over to Sandbanks Provincial Park.

There’s more to do in Prince Edward County than spot leaves. Head to a local farm to pick your own gourds and pumpkins, like Campbells Orchards and Country Market.

How to Get There: Highway 401 East.

Cost: Free

Where to Stay: Stay on the lake at the Drake Devonshire!

Autumn colours over the Elora Gorge in Ontario

12. Elora Gorge

People think you need to go far north in Ontario for stunning autumn leaves, but that’s not true! So many destinations near Toronto have amazing vistas and forests where you can experience the majesty of a Canadian autumn – the best season to visit.

Elora Gorge is most popular as a summer destination. People come from around Ontario to hike the gorge, white water tube on the rapids below, and picnic in the park.

However, they’re missing out on one of the best parts of the gorge: the spectacular autumn leaves!

In October, the fall colours are every changing in Ontario. You can visit multiple days in a row and witness new kaleidoscopes of hues across the provincial park.

Head to Elora Gorge for the best vistas. You’ll want to stop by the lookout point to get a classic shot of the forest framing the deep gorge, and the clear waters below.

Stop in at Elora on the way home to check out the brewery, pubs, and historic downtown treasures.

How to Get There: Highway 401 West.

Cost: $6.64/person

Where to Stay: Have a romantic getaway at Riverside Suites in Elora!

red fall colours at Gatineau Park over the waterfalls

13. Gatineau Park

Every year, Gatineau Park and Ottawa participate in a Fall Rhapsody show that feature the best places in the Greenbelt to witness fall in Ontario.

Although Gatineau isn’t technically in Ontario, its affiliation with Ottawa in this festival means I can sneak it onto this list.

Ottawa has some amazing parks with towering maples, but nothing compares to the splendour of Ontario fall colours in Gatineau Park.

To avoid busy hiking times, visit the park on weekdays, especially if you’re going to one of the more heavily trafficked hikes.

The best places to view fall colours in Gatineau Park are:

  • Pink Lake
  • Mackenzie King Estate
  • King Mountain
  • Luskville Falls
  • Meech Creek Valley

You can also do a loop around the park in your vehicle to see magnificent views of the countryside and the autumn leaves.

How to Get There: A. 5 North from Ottawa.

Cost: Varies by location and date. Check the National Capital Commission for rates.

Where to Stay: Stay in the Gatineau Park campsites. You can book tents, yurts, and cottages in the park.

eagles nest autumn leaves with Nina sitting on a cliff's edge

14. Eagles Nest Lookout, Calabogie

Eagles Nest Lookout is one of the most popular hikes near Ottawa. With its jutting cliffs, the lookout in Calabogie offers a seemingly endless view over the forests below.

Visit in autumn to see this grand view with the vibrant fall leaves.

There are multiple trails to hike up to Eagles Nest Lookout. Some take you beyond the lookout to view Lake Ontario on the other side of the cliffs.

Whichever way you go, be prepared for a slight uphill hike. To get the best views, you have to go up!

This quick 4 km high to the lookout and back offers a chance to marvel at the autumn leaves from below. You’ll feel like you’re in a golden snow globe, with drifting leaves rather than snow.

Don’t forget to take an iconic shot standing on the Eagles Nest Lookout with nothing but trees in the background!

How to Get There: Trans-Canada Highway or Ontario 417 West to Calabogie Road.

Cost: Free, but the lot they’re building may be paid in the future

Where to Stay: Find out where to stay in Ottawa to visit this awesome destination!

Renting a Car in Ontario

To get to the best places to see Ontario’s fall colours, you’ll need to rent a car. Many of these locations aren’t accessible by public transport or trains.

You’ll have more freedom by renting a car to explore more hiking trails and attractions in Ontario that feature the fall colours.

I recommend using Discover Cars to quickly compare rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Looking to get around via car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!

Best Tours in Ontario to View Fall Colours

Enjoy fall in Ontario with the help of these tours! They visit the best places to see fall colours in Ontario and offer some unique adventures in the province:

Closing Thoughts on Ontario Fall Colours

This autumn, get outdoors and explore the best places to view Ontario fall colours.

Even local Canadians may not have been to some of these bucket list autumn places.

Don your comfy sweater weather outfits and head to the forests and lookouts to get in the fall spirit. Personally, I love pairing a walk amongst the leaves with a hot bevvie and some cookies (everything’s better with cookies!). Even hikes need snacks, right?!

Don’t forget the Canadian motto when you visit these natural paradises: leave nothing but footprints.

Take all of your trash with you so others can enjoy the pristine beauty of Ontario’s fall colours just like you did.

Looking to get around via car? Find the cheapest car rentals here!

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