Every year when autumn arrives, we are treated to a spectacular display of colours all across Ontario’s Highlands. With the knowledge that warm days are numbered, a seasonal tradition is to take a scenic drive or leisurely stroll to enjoy the natural colours before the stark whites of winter appear. It’s no surprise that Ontario’s Highlands boasts incredible lookout spots soaring high over the vibrant forests below. Read on to find a variety of lookout spots and forest hikes where you can soak up the fall colours.
The hilly town of Haliburton sits in the shadow of a towering ridge, and on that ridge is a public park with sweeping views of the landscape below. The entrance to Skyline Park is just a minute or two east of the town, and allows you to drive all the way to the top for an easy lookout option without breaking a sweat!
Another lookout spot that comes without much effort exists at Calabogie Peaks Resort, perfect for family outings. On select weekends in October, you can hop aboard the chairlift to the top of the mountain. Enjoy the view along the ride and find your perfect photo op at the summit, 238 metres above the colourful Ottawa Valley.
Blueberry Mountain Trail
A little hard work pays off, especially when you hike up the Blueberry Mountain Trail for the sweet views of the changing trees. One of the seven wonders of Lanark County, Blueberry Mountain is on private land that the owner generously allows the public to access free of charge. The hike itself is a surprisingly gentle 2.5 kilometre walk with a big payoff in the end – think of all the Instagram likes you’ll get!
Ontario’s Provincial Parks
If you have set foot in any Ontario Park you know they’re all beautiful in their own unique way, most with tree-lined lakes and trails throughout. Ontario Parks have different season end dates, but Silent Lake and Bon Echo are two whose seasons extend into October so you can get your fill of the colourful landscapes.
You don’t need to search far and wide to find stunning fall scenes. With two feet planted firmly on level ground, you can enjoy the hues of autumn next to the Bonnechere River in Eganville. Catch a glimpse before descending into Bonnechere Caves (open until Thanksgiving weekend), or walk along the river in town with a warm beverage from Fifth Chute Coffee in hand.
You could enjoy the seasonal colours from the ground level of a vast forest, or you could take it up a notch and walk among the treetops in the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. The four-hour canopy tour includes a scenic drive, relaxed canoe, guided walk, and access to the longest canopy walkway in the world. Reach out and touch the brightly coloured leaves as you walk from tree to tree, 10-20 metres above the ground. The canopy tours end on October 7, but the forest is still accessible for exploration year round.
Dorset Lookout Tower
Once used for spotting forest fires, the Dorset Lookout Tower now stands as a lookout for the fiery reds and oranges of fall. Ascend 142 metres up the tower for a prime view of the rolling hills and lakes that spot the Haliburton Highlands.
What better place to view the changing trees than a sugar bush with over 20,000 tapped trees? Make a day trip to Wheelers Maple, a maple producer and educator open 364 days a year. Walk through the grounds, visit the informative exhibits, and chow down on pancakes topped with their own maple syrup!
Bancroft Eagles Nest Park
The Hawkwatch lookout at Bancroft Eagles Nest Park stands tall over the town and the surrounding Hastings County. Don’t be intimidated by the steep hill you’ll need to drive up before parking your car. This hike is a short and simple one to the observatory deck overlooking the winding river and hills below. You might even catch a glimpse of the hawks that frequent the park gliding through the air around you.
Eagle’s Nest Lookout (Calabogie)
Eagle’s Nest Lookout in Calabogie offers stunning views and lends well to photography, with a rock face jutting out beyond the valley below. You can access the point via the trail that starts along Highway 508, just west of Calabogie Peaks Resort – keep an eye out for the trail markers that will guide you to the lookout, about 1.5 kilometres from the trailhead.