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A Field Guide to Fall Hiking in Southern Ontario

Five hiking destinations that deserve to be seen before Winter settles in.

By: Andrea Dyer + Save to a List

Autumn lovers rejoice: the alchemy of cooler temps and dwindling daylight is bringing out the best in Ontario's foliage. Make the most of the season by exploring these scenic trails and outdoor destinations before winter weather settles in.

1. Elora Gorge

Located near the picturesque town of Elora, ON, the two kilometre-long Elora Gorge is formed by glacial meltwater and surrounded by limestone cliffs. The (approximately) seven kilometre trail loop features mild slopes and hills along a well-maintained pathway, and is surrounded by ancient forest to preview orange, red, and gold leaves.

Bonus: Make a <8 minute drive into the village of Elora for more urbanized but equally as scenic views. Grab a face-sized sandwich from Elora Bread Co. and a coffee from Lost + Found before strolling towards the Elora Mill where you can overlook the Grand River below.

2. Mono Cliffs Provincial Park

As a 732-hectare greenspace offering 20 kilometres of trails through the Niagara Escarpment, Mono Cliffs is, on a normal day, impressive to behold. Add in the colours of Fall and it becomes downright stunning thanks to wooden boardwalks that cut through thick cedar forests and crevice caves.

Bonus: Head into nearby Pia's on Broadway to fuel up on food from a locally-derived, seasonal menu.

3. Bruce Peninsula National Park

Quieter in the Autumn as compared to the tourist-concentrated summer months, Bruce Peninsula National Park is an idyllic destination to enjoy the colours of the season. Tempted as one may be to beeline for the famed grotto, it's worth getting there by way of the Halfway Log Dump trail. Along this nearly 8 kilometre point-to-point path, hikers will push through challenging rocky terrain to enjoy a stunning finale of turquoise waters and sweeping views of Georgian Bay.

Bonus: Drive 10 minutes into the harbour village of Tobermory where you can stroll the pier, tease your sweet tooth at The Sweet Shop, or cruise over to Flowerpot Island.

4. Dundas Peak

There's a reason Dundas Peak is among Ontario's most popular Fall hikes: the trail is easy to navigate and sweeps hikers past waterfalls and to an epic lookout overlooking a blanket of colours below. There's only one downside: since becoming one of the most Instagrammable spots in the region, fees have come into play to visit the Peak. Free spirits (pun intended) can visit the Sydenham Lookout instead – just drive up Sydenham Hill and look for the small cove for parking on the side of the road.

Bonus: The adjacent town of Dundas has been featured in several holiday Hallmark movies for its cozy charm and boutique shoppes. Grab a hot beverage from Detour and browse the works of local makers at The Handmade House.

5. Rattlesnake Point

Located about one hour outside of Toronto, Rattlesnake Point is home to a vast network of hiking trails and lookout points – with Buffalo Crag topping them all. Here you can often spot turkey vultures circling above the forest line, as well as enjoy spectacular views of the vibrant local countryside.

Bonus: Nearby Rattlesnake Point there are plenty of pick-your-own apple orchards ('tis the season!) and Springridge Farm: a barn market, bakery, and servery that's beloved by families from throughout the region.

Although this is not an exhaustive list of Southern Ontario's outdoor autumn attractions, it's an excellent place to start. Grab a thermos of cider, a good friend (or two), and get it while the gettin's good!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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