The Most Beautiful Ontario Landscapes For Fall Foliage Views

Embrace adventure when you set out to see these incredible autumn landscapes.

Fall is the best time to adventure in Northern Ontario, when the scenery is wrapped in a tapestry of colours and the bugs have fizzled out. To avoid throngs of colour seekers at highway lookouts, here’s a list of adventure-filled hikes, paddles and bike rides that will allow you to enjoy all that is wonderful about autumn in the province.

These fall views are worth the extra effort to get to—trust us.

1. Robertson Cliffs, Goulais River

North of Sault Ste. Marie is one of the area’s most popular (for a good reason) fall hikes: Robertson Cliffs. The view from the top of the cliffs is simply stunning in autumn, allowing you a vantage over all the colourful trees in the hilly forest below.

There are a few entry points to the trail system and a few different trails you can take to get to the various lookouts, but one favourite is called Ila’s Loop. It has some very steep sections, which is not surprising given that you are climbing over 200 metres in elevation. This moderate loop hike is around 5 kilometres in length, though some people do it as an out and back on the white trail, but then they miss the waterfall (blue trail off the yellow trail).

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2. Duchesnay Falls, North Bay

Travel through a forest of mixed deciduous and coniferous trees to reach a view of beautiful Duchesnay Falls as it tumbles over the Canadian Shield. You can start from the parking lot on Highway 17, just past the North Bay Regional Health Care Centre or from the Nipissing University/Canadore College campus on College Drive (Parking Lot 8 offers free parking on weekends).

Located within the Education Centre Trails system, there are 11.6 kilometres of trails to choose from. Make an afternoon of it, enjoying the shining fall colours and excellent birding opportunities.

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  • Take a hiking tour with Nature Bound (and Shelley, who is a master naturalist)
  • Book a stay at the Sunset Inn or Torbay Suites
  • For a pre or post workout treat, see the bakery and coffee shop options under La Vase Portages below
The nearby Mattawa River, which flows out of Trout Lake, gives ample indication of the beauty that abounds along this route
The nearby Mattawa River, which flows out of Trout Lake, gives ample indication of the beauty that abounds along this route. Credit: Chris Mayne

3. La Vase Portages, North Bay

Want to feel like an explorer? The La Vas Portages is a 14-kilometre-long canoe route through beaver ponds, wetlands, bush and streams making it possible to travel between Trout Lake and Lake Nipissing via paddle and foot. Étiénne Brûlé and Samuel de Champlain learned about the route from First Nations guides, and used it as a link on the historic fur trade route between Montreal and the north shore of Lake Superior.

You can retrace this portion of the route for yourself on a day trip, soaking in the surrounding fall colours and reveling in the hard work required in the crisp air.

It’s best to begin at La Vase Portages Conservation Area. You can discover more information about the route on the Friends of La Vas Portages website.

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Take a guided hike along the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail
Take a guided hike along the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail. Credit: Courtesy of Wikwemikong Tourism

4. Bebamikawe Memorial Hiking Trail, Manitoulin Island

Following the Niagara Escarpment, the Bebamikawe Memorial Trail can be hiked self-guided or as part of an Indigenous-led tour. There are interpretive panels along the route, while guides will share medicinal plant teachings as well as stories of their past and relationships with settlers. The trail is thoughtfully designed to traverse the area’s diverse ecological habitat. You’ll enjoy spectacular lookouts capturing views of the La Cloche Mountains, North Channel and Traditional Fishing Islands of Wiikwemkoong.

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5. Point Grondine Park, Killarney

Point Grondine Park has over 7,000 hectares of natural wilderness landscape, old growth pine forest, waterfalls, interior lakes and stunning river vistas. You can choose to explore the park and its Indigenous history by paddle on one of the many canoe routes or on foot via the established trails.

Start off with the 3-kilometre A-Mik-Zii-Bi Interpretive Trail where you’ll learn about the Anishinaabek peoples’ history, and the connection they have to this land. Next, hike the 6.9-kilometre Merv’s Landing loop (moderate to advanced) that winds up to a peak overlooking the white quartzite hills of the La Cloche Mountain Range. Or, commit fully to the 22-kilometre Wemtagoosh Falls Loop, an exciting backcountry camping adventure. You can learn more about Point Grondine’s many fall hiking opportunities here.

Make it happen

  • Book day passes, hiking and camping permits (from eco cabins and wooden platforms to area campsites) here
  • Check out Wikwemikong Tourism’s daily cultural experiences located in the Killarney area
Manitoulin Island is full of adventures
Manitoulin Island is full of adventures. Credit: Zane Chowdhery // @adventure.avocado

6. Cup and Saucer Trail, Manitoulin Island

Michigiwadinon, the Anishinaabe name for the Cup and Saucer Trail, means “bluff in the shape of a spearhead.” Considered one of the top hikes in Ontario, this trail offers some of the best views on Manitoulin Island, especially in the fall.

Make sure you have at least 1.5 hours to complete this out and back trail to the stunning escarpment views from the 70-metre-high cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment. There are several lookouts, but don’t stop until you’ve ventured out on the vertigo-inducing rocky outcrop shaped like a spearhead. If conditions aren’t wet and slippery, include a challenging yellow adventure trail featuring wooden ladders, rock scrambling and little caves, among other extreme features.

The parking lot and trailhead is well marked right off Hwy 540, 18 kilometres west of Little Current.

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Panoramic views just outside Sudbury
Panoramic views just outside Sudbury. Credit: RJSBird Photography // @rjsbirdphotography

7. Lake Laurentian Loop, Sudbury

Lake Laurentian Conservation Area offers 2,415 acres of protected green space on the edge of Sudbury. The Lake Laurentian Loop is the most challenging trail at the conservation area, boasting scenic panoramic lookouts, a couple rock scrambles and flat terrain past fens. The trail, which encircles the lake, is 10 kilometres in length and requires three to four hours to complete.

Start your hike (or paddle) from the Nature Chalet which is the main access point to the trails, where free parking and bike racks are also available. If you’re simply hiking, another option is to start at the Ida Street Access Point.

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A view of Onaping Falls that’s Group of Seven recommended
A view that’s Group of Seven recommended. Credit: RJSBird Photography // @rjsbirdphotography

8. Onaping Falls, Sudbury

Beautiful Onaping Falls is a must-see natural attraction in the Sudbury area, particularly in autumn when the falls are framed by the coloured leaves. Park for free at the Visitors Centre and take the short walk to the A.Y. Jackson Lookout which is set far enough downriver from the falls you can view them in their entirety. But don’t stop there—continue along the trail, which is steep and rocky in areas, and cross the bridge over the falls.

The under 3-kilometre trail gains 80 metres in elevation and loops around a forested area after the bridge. If this spot sounds familiar, it might since Group of Seven artist A.Y. Jackson was inspired by this spot in 1953 and painted "Spring on the Onaping River."

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Plan a fall biking adventure to Hiawatha Highlands
Plan a fall biking adventure to Hiawatha Highlands. Credit: Elizabeth Rozario // @elizabeth__roz

9. Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie

Sault Ste. Marie has invested significantly in Hiawatha Highlands in recent years with 12 kilometres of new trails and has been rebranding itself as Ontario’s new bike town. All levels of riders will enjoy the trail system here. From enduro-style trails carved out of the Canadian Shield to pump tracks for the littlest of cyclists, there are now over 40 kilometres of trails. Single track trails of note include the Crystal Creek, Pinder and Red Pine.

Just remind yourself to take your eyes off the trail in front of you and gaze at the scenery around you! In the fall, the trails are bug-free and simply breathtaking with the variety of maples brandishing red, orange, and yellow hues against the deep green pines.

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Plan a multiday stay at remote Norm’s Cabin
Plan a bike adventure for an multiday stay at remote Norm’s Cabin. Credit: Courtesy of Algoma Highlands Conservancy

10. Norm’s Cabin, Sault Ste. Marie

If you are looking for an adventure that’s off the beaten path, Norm’s Cabin should be on your list of beautiful fall destinations. Situated on Algoma Highlands Conservancy land, the only way to get there is by hiking or biking 10 kilometres (there is also a hike/paddle option). Secluded on remote Bone Lake, the two-story cabin was rebuilt in 2013. It’s a great place to explore the rolling hills, wetlands and lakes of the Algoma Highlands.

You’ll be surrounded by dark, starry skies at night. The only noise will be from wildlife around the cabin, from loons to pileated woodpeckers. You may even be lucky enough to see a moose as you drink in the fall colours. As the terrain is hilly and includes wet and muddy sections, the cabin may be inaccessible with excessive fall rains, but it is worth trying!

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Get a stunning vantage of the fall colours from the Helenbar Lookout
Get a stunning vantage of the fall colours from the Helenbar Lookout. Credit: ALAN // Presently Wandering

11. Helenbar Lookout Trail, Mississagi Provincial Park

Some people will be upset to see this trail on the list, as it is one many like to keep to themselves like a secret fishing hole. Located near Elliot Lake, between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, Mississagi Provincial Park is home to the seriously scenic Helenbar Lookout Trail.

This 7-kilometre moderate hike passes a white-sand beach on Semiwite Lake and huge glacially-deposited boulder erratics. The pièce de résistance is a spectacular lookout over the lake with views of the surrounding mountainous landscape.

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12. Lake Superior Provincial Park

Eleven rugged trails let visitors explore the variety of landscapes making up Lake Superior Provincial Park, including rocky shores, beaches, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests, wetlands and rolling hills.

The Nokomis Trail (5 kilometres) is ranked among the top five day hikes in the country in Lonely Planet’s Discover Canada guidebook. This trail has quite the climb, so be prepared—to work hard and to be dazzled. You’ll be able to take in a stunning view over Old Woman Bay from the top and gaze down at the forest dripping with colour down below.

Need even more of a challenge? The Awausee Trail is a 10-kilometre loop that provides a bird’s-eye view of the Agawa Valley and Lake Superior. The trail starts at the base of Agawa Mountain on an old logging road before progressing uphill along a ravine. There are lookout points all along the way, including those which are 200 metres above the Agawa Valley.

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The Edmund Fitzgerland Lookout provides one of the loveliest views over Lake Superior
The Edmund Fitzgerland Lookout provides one of the loveliest views over Lake superior. Credit: Arin Godara // @aringodara

13. Lookout Trail, Pancake Bay Provincial Park

For a splash of fall colour, heavy on the red maple and yellow birch, this 7-kilometre hike to a lookout and back at Pancake Bay Provincial Park provides you with a historically significant scenically stunning experience. From the lookout, you’ll get views of Whitefish Point on Pancake Bay—a part of Lake Superior known as the “graveyard of the Great Lakes” and the location of the shipwreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sunk in a fierce Superior storm in 1975.

Instead of going just to the lookout and back, you can complete the entire trail for a total of 14 kilometres. Doing so will give you better chances of spotting moose and other wildlife.

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The rugged Pukaskwa coastline is even more so in the fall as storms whip up on Lake Superior
The rugged Pukaskwa coastline is even more so in the fall as storms whip up on Lake Superior. Credit: Kay Taylor // @kay.taylor.108

14. Coastal Hiking Trail, Pukaskwa National Park

An amazing backcountry experience for the very adventurous awaits you in Ontario’s only wilderness national park while the boreal forest is ablaze with fall colours. The Coastal Hiking Trail in Pukaskwa National Park offers more than 60 kilometres of rugged and varied terrain and is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Or you can opt for a condensed version of the Coastal Hiking Trail—the Mdaabii Miikna (which means ‘go to the shore trail’ in Anishinaabemowin) is a 24-kilometre loop trail that includes a natural rock tunnel, tent platforms at campsites, and panoramic views of Picture Rock Harbour.

Or, how about the condensed, condensed version? Venture to the White River Suspension Bridge and back for an 18-kilometre day hike. Starting at the Visitor Centre, the path is well-marked to the bridge which crosses 23 metres above Chigamiwinigum Falls. Add a kilometer more and you’ll probably have Hook Falls all to yourself. Those that complete the hike earn a special sticker available until the Park Kiosk closes mid-October.

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The little-known Casque Isles backpacking trail is a treat in autumn
This little-known backpacking trail is a treat in autumn. Credit: Mohammad Noroozi // @quidpromoh

15. Casque Isles Trail, Terrace Bay

A spectacular section of the Voyageur Trail, the 53 rugged kilometres of the Casque Isles Trail follow Lake Superior’s shoreline, from Rossport to Terrace Bay. You’ll pass old gold mines, fossil deposits, and abandoned trappers’ cabins. If you don’t have 16 hours to spare, there are several day hike options along the route, which are outlined on the Casque Isles Hiking Club website.

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Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a fall hiking paradise—pictured here is a view from the Lehtienen’s Bay Trail
Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a fall hiking paradise—pictured here is a view from the Lehtienen’s Bay Trail. You can also hike to the top of the cliffs pictured on the Chimney Trail. Credit: Nicole Mol // @nicoles.views

16. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

As it is one of Canada’s seven wonders, the easy part is driving 1.25 hours from Thunder Bay to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The hard part is picking just one hike for fall views. There are multiple trails that will allow you to stand on top of the Sleeping Giant, each offering scenic vistas and allowing you to immerse yourself in the fall foliage.

The main access point is the South Kabeyun Trailhead parking lot. From there you’ll need to decide if you want to climb to the Head, Chest or Top of the Giant—three separate summits.

To hike to the Head of the Giant, take the Sawyer Bay Trail to the Kabeyun Trail and then continue onto The Head Trail—the last of which is an 800-metre climb to the top. To go there and back will be 16.2 kilometres round trip.

To hike to the Chest of the Giant, take the Sawyer Bay Trail to the Talus Lake Trail before continuing onto The Chest Trail—a 17-kilometre round trip hike.

Lastly, to hike to the Top of the Giant, take the Kabeyun Trail to the Talus Lake Trail and hop onto the Top of the Giant Trail for a 21.8-kilometre round trip hike.

Hot tip: You can bike on both the Sawyer Bay Trail and the South Kabeyun Trail allowing you to conserve your energy for hiking up to the summits.

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At Mount McKay you’d never know you haven’t even left Thunder Bay
You’d never know you haven’t even left Thunder Bay. Credit: Damien Gilbert

17. Top of Mount McKay, Thunder Bay

While many people hike to the top of the Sleeping Giant, this spectacular, less-travelled hike earns you views of the Sleeping Giant, Lake Superior and Thunder Bay cloaked in fall colours. Mount McKay is traditionally known as the Thunder Mountain or Anemki-wajiw. Located within the Fort William First Nation, please be respectful of this sacred place.

You’ll need to pay a toll to drive up to the Mount McKay Scenic Lookout. The views from here are quite good, but don’t stop. Now it’s time to make the one-kilometre climb to the summit of Mount McKay. Don’t be deceived by the short length—this trail is very steep and involves some scrambling.

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18. Wabakimi Provincial Park

Want to have an experience few even know exists? Wabakimi Provincial Park is the world’s largest paddling area with almost 5 million acres of nature at your disposal, including rapids, waterfalls and hopefully even the Northern Lights. There is no direct road access to this wilderness park—instead you’ll need to fly or train in.

Canoe tripping in this park is quiet in the “peak” summer months—and is even more so in the fall. So much so you’re unlikely to see another soul. All the better to view the abundance of wildlife calling the Park home, including deer, moose, eagles, black bears and elusive woodland caribou.

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Begin with a view of Kakabeka Falls and then continue down the valley trail
Begin with a view of Kakabeka Falls and then continue down the valley trail. Credit: Dan Solo // @ohcanadan

19. Little Falls Hike, Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park

The Niagara Falls of the North is easily accessible at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, just off Hwy 17 west of Thunder Bay. After seeing the second-biggest falls in Ontario framed in beautiful autumn colours, amp up the adventure with a hike. Begin hiking on the Mountain Portage Trail, following a historic portage early travelers used to get around Kakabeka Falls, and keep an eye out for the turnoff onto the Little Falls Trail—a 2.5-kilometre loop featuring a steep descent into the valley of the Kaministiquia River. Here you can also view Little Falls—be cautious at this section as it can be slippery.

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Enjoy fall canoe tripping in quiet Quetico
Enjoy fall canoe tripping in quiet Quetico. Credit: RJSBird Photography // @rjsbirdphotography

20. French Lake to Pickerel Lake Paddle, Quetico Provincial Park

This secluded 21.4-kilometre out and back paddling route in Quetico Provincial Park links French Lake to Pickerel Lake. Quetico itself is a pristine and world-renowned paddling destination, offering over 2,000 lakes for adventurous paddlers to explore. This route will give you a mere sampling of the beauty of Quetico, but even that is enough to make you fall in love for a lifetime.

Keep your eyes peeled for moose, enjoy crisp evenings by the campfire and pitch your tent beneath a canopy of colour.

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Read our Ultimate Guide to Quetico’s Best Canoe Trips

About Nadine Robinson

Dr. Nadine Robinson is an international award-winning freelance writer, non-fiction author, keynote speaker, and an op-ed columnist for Post Media. Her work has appeared in business journals, magazines, tourism destination guides and web portals. Originally from Ottawa, Nadine believes money should be spent on things that can't be taken away from you (travel, education and life experiences). She has travelled to 68 countries, holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, and is a member of the Canadian Freelance Guild and the Travel Media Association of Canada. Now based in Northern Ontario, follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, @theinkran, or email her at the.ink.writer@gmail.com

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