Get Some Colour

The Top Fall Motorcycle Routes in Ontario

Fall in Ontario is a magical time, and especially so for motorcycle riders. Not only are the colours around the province exploding with eye-popping yellows, blazing oranges and fiery reds, but for riders, all our other senses are lit up too. The smells of our forests in fall are nowhere more prevalent than inside a helmet. The cool breeze, sneaking around gloves and under collars, and the whispering sounds as that breeze brings down the leaves. The 2020 riding season has been absolutely beautiful and there's no better way to end it than in a blaze of fall-colour glory!

But, where should you ride, and when? For the best time, we generally turn to the Ontario Parks fall colour report. But planning for roughly the second week of October is a safe bet. This is when we've seen the colours appear year after year. With those dates in mind, here's our list of the top places in Ontario to ride in fall:

The Temiskaming Lake Tour

temiskaming loop fall

With the Laurentian mountains and their swathes of maple trees across the river in Mattawa, the Temiskaming Lake Tour in Northeastern Ontario has some of the most stunning reds we know of. Combine that with the quiet roads, good eats along the way, and more than a few great accommodations, this is a perfect long weekend trip for riders coming from the south and east. Half the loop is in Quebec, so it's also a great loop for Francophone riders! 

Ride Lake Superior

While the ride around the big lake should never be entered into lightly, we’re hoping to inspire a few hardy riders who have their jacket liners and thicker gloves ready for some late-season riding. If you’ve got the wherewithal, we guarantee you’ll be rewarded by a totally unique version of this bucket-list tour. The section between Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie should have some killer reds, and the views of the water make this totally different than any other ride in Ontario. It's also probably a week-long affair—we're looking at you, you lucky retired riders! 

The Grand Algoma

dustin woods algoma loop

Algoma is the embodiment of fall, there's no two ways about it. No other region or route bursts with as many of the fiery reds that so many of us associate with the quintessential Canadian fall. The Grand Algoma takes riders on a magnificent combination of long sweeping roads and mind-blowing colour up the Missinabi River Valley on Highway 129, and down what is perhaps Ontario's most scenic highway; the Trans Canada between Wawa and Sault Ste. Marie. This is doable in a long weekend, and if you know what's good for you, it's the ride you'll be doing this fall.  

  • Region: Sault Ste. Marie - Algoma
  • Loop Length: 600 kms
  • Starting Points: Sault Ste. Marie, Wawa, Thessalon, Chapleau
  • Close To: Michigan, Wisconsin, Toronto (600 kms away) 
  • Trip Planning Tools: Go Tour Ontario

Nor'wester Loop

If peace and tranquility are high on your list (and likely some of the clearest night skies and a chance to see the Northern Lights) then the Nor'Wester Loop is a great choice. This area is heavily treed with boreal forests, so the displays of colour may be limited to more yellow and oranges, but for quiet twisty roads, and a sense of the fullness of nature before winter, this is a perfect choice.

  • Region: Northwest Ontario
  • Loop Length: 550 kms
  • Starting Points: Thunder Bay, Kenora 
  • Close To: Winnipeg, Duluth, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Thunder Bay, Michigan
  • Trip Planning Tools: Ride Lake Superior

Ride the Highlands

If there was an award for most twisties per square mile, Ontario's Highlands would likely win hand over foot. The recently launched Ride the Highlands routes does a pretty bang-up job of putting all these curves into a semblance of order, with motorcycle-friendly places to sleep, eat and see cool stuff. They also have some very cool kickstand pads for riders. Since this area is south of Algonquin Park, we expect the colour to be quite vibrant here.

  • Region: Ontario's Highlands
  • Loop Length: 4 routes, from 250 kms to 1000 kms
  • Starting Points: Haliburton, Huntsville, Bancroft, Arnprior, Smith's Falls, Pembroke
  • Close To: Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto (and area), New York
  • Trip Planning Tools: Go Tour OntarioRide The Highlands

Ride The Edge

Is there a better weekend escape from the grind of city life than the tranquility of Algonquin Park and Muskoka? We don’t think so. The Explorers' Edge Big Loop is perfectly suited for a long weekend jaunt and puts on an incredible display of colours, to say nothing of the quiet twisty backroads of region. The video of four motorcycle journalists doing this loop was shot just at the start of last fall season—expect even bigger colours on your tour.

  • Region: Explorers' Edge
  • Loop Length: 900 kms
  • Starting Points: Gravenhurst, Parry Sound, Huntsville
  • Close To: Toronto, Niagara, Michigan, New York, Southern Ontario, Kingston, Ottawa
  • Trip Planning Tools: Ride the Edge Big Loop

Peterborough and the Kawarthas

Celebrity bloggers The Planet D rode Peterborough and the Kawarthas as one of their first rides after getting their motorcycle licenses and had nothing but positive things to say. This area is home to more than a few killer twisties (the famous Buckhorn road calls this region home, as does Northey's Bay Road), and if good eats are your thing (and we don't exactly mean poutine, unless it's duck confit poutine) this area leads the pack—heck, they're even home to Ontario's best butter tart! Check out Planet D's take in the video below. For those in the Golden Horseshoe with limited time, PTBO and the KWTA should be at the top of your list.

  • Region: Peterborough and the Kawarthas
  • Loop Length: 470 kms
  • Starting Points: Toronto, Peterborough, Bancroft
  • Close To: Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, New York
  • Trip Planning Tools: Check the map below!

View City Escapes - Toronto to Peterborough and the Kawarthas in a larger map

Cruise the Coast

cruise the coast

The southernmost part of Ontario is far warmer in mid- and late-October than most of the other routes on this list, which means that if you miss your chance to see the colours in the more northern regions of Ontario, Cruise the Coast will be there waiting for you! Expect plenty of fall club rides to be organized throughout the region, as well as plenty of fall events.

  • Region: Ontario's Southwest
  • Loop Length: Varies - 350 kms to 90 kms
  • Starting Points: Anywhere along the coast 
  • Close To: Michigan, New York, Toronto
  • Trip Planning Tools: Cruise The Coast

Ride Grey-Bruce

Grey-Bruce has been around a long time, and for a good cause - this is solid countryside riding. Their waterfalls tour might be one of the most picturesque, and will definitely produce some stunning photography for the shutterbug. We also feel that these routes are especially well suited for couples who are riding; the romance of the region won't be understated with the dozens of quaint B&B's and quiet friendly restaurants perfect for some quality time. 

  • Region: Bruce Grey Simcoe
  • Loop Length: Varies
  • Starting Points: Throughout the region; Collingwood, Barrie, Kincardine
  • Close To: Toronto, Detroit, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York State
  • Trip Planning Tools: Explore the Bruce

And those are our picks! Don't forget to follow What A Ride on Facebook and on Instagram—and tell us which rides you're doing! We'd love to see your photos too. 

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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