Ontario’s Highlands is made for fall riding – here, the winding roads cut through hilly and rugged backcountry, crowded with colourful foliage in vibrant shades of reds, oranges, and yellows.
This year marks Ontario’s Highlands’ 10th anniversary of Ride the Highlands, a compilation of curated motorcycle routes and resources taking riders through the adrenalin-pumping hills and valleys of Ontario’s Highlands, and there has literally never been a better time to get out on the roads.
Embrace the riding season’s last gasp with a final autumn ride guaranteed for fantastic views. Ride the Highlands offers the best roads to ride, including epic lookout stops, places for a bite to eat and where to spend the night – all motorcycle friendly. It’s time to layer up and get ready to ride.
Looking for the maximum of fall colours in Ontario? Check out the Ontario Parks online Fall colour interactive map before you head out.
Distance: 278 km
Area: Haliburton Highlands and Algonquin Park
The Ride the Highlands fall motorcycle loop was created to bring riders through some of the most colourful scenery in Ontario to really bask in the season. The loop takes you through the southern portion of Algonquin Park, known for its big show of vibrant autumn. Plan your rest stops to visit Dorset Lookout Tower in Dorset, Oxtongue River Ragged Falls Provincial Park in Dwight, and Skyline Park in Haliburton. Bring your camera to capture the stunning autumn vistas.
Pro tip: Do this route counter-clockwise to avoid traffic through Algonquin Park.
You will pass so many inviting spots to brake for a bite to eat and stretch your legs. Some good ones are Rhubarb Restaurant and Boshkung Brewing Co. in Carnarvon or pick up some takeout for a picnic stop from AM/PM Gourmet in Harcourt. Cool down with a scoop (or two) of ice cream from the Scooped Moose in Lake St. Peter.
Distance: 1,000 km
Area: Ontario’s Highlands
Oh the sights you will see on the Highlands Loop! This epic ride is a great way to explore the entire region and watch the colours change as you transition from east to west and north to south. Expect to encounter plenty of small towns to stop and explore along the way. We recommend taking three days to complete this loop so you can experience and savour every moment of fall in this beautiful part of Ontario.
With three days on the road you’ll be happy to unload your saddlebags and shake off any road dust at Bonnie View Inn in Haliburton Highlands, Calabogie Peaks Resort in the Ottawa Valley or Stoco Lake Lodge in Tweed. Don’t miss a stop at Hidden Goldmine Bakery in Madoc to try one of their famous butter tarts and Wilno Tavern for authentic Polish cuisine in Wilno.
NEW LOOP: Pick-Axe Adventure Route
Distance: 370 km
Area: Ottawa Valley
Brand new for 2023, the Pick-Axe Adventure Route is an opportunity for riders with adventure bikes to really dig into the prime motorcycle terrain of the Ottawa Valley. This is a mostly gravel route which can add an extra layer of excitement to your ride and literally let you experience the road less traveled. Get a bird’s eye view of the region in fall with a chair lift ride to the top of Calabogie Peaks or bring the camera for a hike at Bonnechere Provincial Park.
If you’re short on time and are looking for a quick trip to Ontario’s Highland, take a look at these other routes that will still guarantee you fabulous views along the way:
- Riding the Shield
The Canadian Shield in Ontario’s Highlands is front and centre, and brings with it hilly, rocky terrain that simply make for a great ride in fall. In Addington Highlands the 180-kilometre Shield Ride takes you through Bon Echo Provincial Park and past small communities like Denbigh, Cloyne, or Northbrook. In North Frontenac you’ll find plenty of inviting roads that take you along shorelines, through dense forests and wide open shield. Through it all you will be blown away by the intensity of the colours here.
- Nature Rides and Loops in Haliburton Highlands
The Haliburton Highlands are called the highlands for a reason, and this region’s high-octane hills and valleys are the perfect complement for the seemingly endless range of curves in the road. For a great day ride from the city, try Haliburton Highlands' 72-kilometre Minden Hills Nature Ride to ride from Minden to Kinmount and Norland, before looping back to where you started.
- Scenic Rides in North Hastings
Known as the Mineral Capital of Canada, a ride through North Hastings is guaranteed to reveal interesting rock cuts and scenery. In fall, ride any of the 13 North Hastings Scenic Routes to take in the colourful foliage and stellar views. Along the way, stretch your legs with an epic view at Eagles Nest Lookout in Bancroft. Grab a bite to eat at Sun Run Café in Maynooth, Bancroft Brew Pub in Bancroft, or if you’re looking for a chance to clean up and be pampered, the Granite Restaurant can be your go-to for fine dining on the road.
- Riding the Rideau Ridge Loop
The small communities in Lanark County make this 261-kilometre ride a fun destination any time of the year. Known as the crown jewel of the town of Perth, Stewart Park boasts towering maple trees that unveil their flaming brilliance in fall and are a great spot for an impromptu picnic. You can also see the park right from the patio at Fiddleheads Bar & Grill or The Locks Restaurant. In Smiths Falls the lock stations along the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal, are also beautiful in fall.
Are you ready to ride? Order your Ride the Highlands map and start planning your route today. Visit the Ride the Highlands website for more information about routes, loops, and motorcycle-friendly attractions and accommodations.
10th Anniversary Ride the Highlands Photo Contest
To celebrate 10 years of Ride the Highlands, we’ve launched our RTH Photo Contest. Enter a photo of your 2023 Ride the Highlands trip for a chance to win. Our motorcycle businesses rock and many have donated epic prizes. Click the link below to learn more and enter the contest. Draws for prize packages will be taking place Friday, October 13th, 2023.