As the weather slowly starts to cool down after summer, it can only mean one thing, autumn is here and so is the colourful foliage! Images and videos start appearing all over social media of wonderful fall scenery from across the globe.
So, you may now start wondering, where can I see such beautiful landscapes myself? Well, for those who are lucky enough to live in Ontario, then look no further than the region just north of Toronto. You will be able to see some magnificent fall colours in Algonquin Provincial Park.
I have been to Algonquin Park around 5 times, but visiting Algonquin Park in autumn was a highlight of mine. Read on to find out where I recommend where to see fall colours in Algonquin Park.
Where is Algonquin Park located?
Algonquin Park is an area spanning 7,630 km² and can be accessed from the West Gate or the East Gate.
To start your journey into Algonquin from the Greater Toronto Area, head for the West Gate of the park. You can type West Gate – Algonquin Park, into maps and you will find it. You will usually enter the East Gate of Algonquin Park coming from the Ottawa direction.
The drive to Algonquin Park from the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) is around 3 hours to the West Gate. Therefore, it is best enjoyed as an overnight trip (at least).
You will need to purchase a day-use park permit when entering the park from the West Gate or the East Gate. The employees in the office will also provide you with a map and park information if required.
I suggest you use the bathrooms at the gates before you start venturing further into the wilderness.
Algonquin Park is now requiring visitors to re-book their day-use permit 5 days before they visit. You can find information about Algonquin Parks’s Day Use Fees here.
You will need to have a car to get to Algonquin Park because it is not easily accessible by train or bus. Book your car rental on Expedia or Rental Cars.
The Drive to See the Fall Colours Algonquin Park
As you drive north to Muskoka, the leaves along the highway intensify. It will be difficult to resist snapping some pictures, but through the windows of your car, it does not do the views justice.
As you get closer to the Lake of Bays, the scenery turns even more spectacular. However, due to the amount of private property surrounding the lake, it is very difficult to stop and get closer.
The majority of the best photography and viewing of the autumn leaves will be in Algonquin Park.
Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower
To see some fall colours in Muskoka on the drive to Algonquin Park, I recommend a stop at Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower. This lookout tower near Algonquin Park will provide fantastic photographic opportunities and a chance to use the portable bathrooms after the long drive up!
Going up the Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower is the best lookout to see the colours in the area. Make sure you have some cash on hand for the entrance fee ($15 per car).
I visited during the week, which meant it was not too busy. During the peak period of the changing colours, there can be a long wait to get into Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower.
The scenic lookout tower stands at 142 metres high and allows you to climb to the top. The climb isn’t for the faint-hearted. I only managed to climb halfway before deciding the view was good enough and my knees buckled in from my nerves.
A sign at the bottom of the steps, “do not climb during strong winds”, but of course October weather can come with less than optimal climbing conditions. You can feel the wind when you start to get higher up the tower. Also, looking down through the gaps in the metal stairs may be enough to make you want to turn back immediately.
I am not trying to scare you off from climbing the tower, but merely providing you with a more realistic expectation. It is likely that once you have got your pictures and videos of the fall colours, you may want to get down the stairs as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, even if you do not feel like climbing the tower, there is a stunning lookout point where your feet stay firmly on the ground. It is called Peek-a-boo lookout and it is just a few strides away from the tower.
View the Dorset Tower webcam – scroll down a little to see it. You can keep an eye on the colours seen from the lookout by checking the live webcam from the Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower.
Keeping track of the fall colours in Algonquin Park
One of the most commonly asked questions asked about fall leaves in Algonquin Park, is when is the best time for fall colours in Ontario? The answer to this can vary, but it is usually late September to mid-October.
Algonquin Park has some excellent resources on its website to use to find out when you will see the peak colour change of leaves in Algonquin Park.
You will be able to figure out the best time to see fall colours in Algonquin Park by looking at the Algonquin Park fall colours live webcam that streams all year round.
Another great resource to learn when the Algonquin fall colours will be at their peak is to look at the Algonquin fall colour report. The report usually starts updating in mid-September.
Trails to see Fall Colours in Algonquin Park
For general information on Algonquin Park and the hiking trails, Ontario Parks has a lot of useful information on its website.
The first trail that I visited was Hardwood Lookout Trail and it was a good introduction to the park. At the end of the trail, you are rewarded with a view of Smoke Lake. This particular trail took around 20 minutes from start to finish and included a several light hills.
I also stopped at the beach of The Lake of Two Rivers for a few moments to check out the view. This is close to Mew Lake campground, where it is possible to camp year-round. You can access the Old Railway Bike Trail from Mew Lake campground.
Then, I took the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, which was approximately 20 minutes and the trail leaflet was informative. The park has created booklets that tell stories and provide information about the trail you are walking on and I found them enjoyable to read.
See the map of the park to see other trails to take.
Accommodation in Algonquin Park in Fall
Many people had recommended to me Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville because it was in a good location to visit Algonquin Park. I booked a room here so that I would have a convenient base for my fall activities in Algonquin Park.
Upon arrival at Deerhurst Resort, you will see how vast the complex is. There are some walking trails that you can explore just outside the compound of the hotel.
But the true magic is its very own Peninsula Lake whereby the hotel is located. The view is even more spectacular on a sunny day as the sunlight bounces off the lake onto the trees to make the Autumn leaves sparkle a beautiful golden colour.
The hotel itself is quite basic in its decor and rooms, but the location and scenery are impressive. That is why I recommend a visit to Deerhurst Resort to see the fall colours in Algonquin Park.
You can book Deerhurst Resort on Booking.com or Expedia.
To find out about other options for where to stay in Algonquin Park, read this article on the commercial services in the park and select the accommodation tab.
Read more: Backcountry camping in Algonquin Park
What to Wear in Algonquin Park in Fall
Make sure you have some shoes with good grip and that you don’t mind getting muddy.
For shoes, I recommend Merrell walking boots because they are supportive on the ankle and have good grip.
Other shoes that I recommend are Blundstone boots. I wear these almost every single day of winter in Canada. This is because they have a warm insole and are waterproof and snowproof.
They are also excellent for fall when it starts to cool down. (Note: the name states Men’s shoes, but they are unisex).
I also recommend that you bring a warmer coat because it will be colder up in Algonquin Park than in Toronto. If you are looking for a really warm coat, you want it to be down-filled. Also, it is better if it comes down to your knees because it will keep your legs warm too.
This Columbia coat is very similar to the one I wear in winter (except mine has faux-fur on the hood). The green coat I am wearing in the pictures was from Zara, but it was not warm enough.
Read more: What to wear in Canada in winter
Facilities in Algonquin Park
After having seen the Algonquin Park live webcam stream, I wanted to find the view that it records, which is at the Algonquin Visitor Centre. During the peak of the fall colours in Algonquin Park, you can see the autumn leaves on the live Algonquin Park webcam.
Unfortunately for me, the centre was closed due to a power outage. Which meant I could only walk to the Fire Tower Trail (less than a 5-minute walk), and the view is less impressive due to its lack of visibility.
Also, be aware that the visitor centre is the only place in the park with Wi-Fi. Make sure you come prepared and don’t rely on Wi-Fi alone.
Due to the limited amount of time I had in the park, I finished my adventure in Algonquin at the Portage Store Restaurant. Here they serve all kinds of food, such as burgers, soups, and salads on the edge of Canoe Lake.
Our server told us that the restaurant was going to be closing at the end of the week, given that we visited the week after Canadian Thanksgiving. Only a few campgrounds stay open over the winter (such as the yurts). Ensure you know the closing date of Algonquin Park to avoid disappointment.
Algonquin Park has some of the most spectacular fall leaves in Ontario. That being said, I encourage you to learn about Algonquin Park’s cultural history before visiting to give you a greater meaning of the park.
For more ways to learn about the history of Algonquin Park, you can visit the Algonquin Logging Museum near the East Gate. Find out the opening times on the park events calendar.
Further reading from Fall Colours in Algonquin Park article
Read more about what to do in Ontario and when to visit Ontario.
If you are interested in Algonquin Park camping, I have written about Backcountry Camping in Rock Lake.
Even though the summer season is a great time to camp in Algonquin Park, in my opinion, the best time to camp in Algonquin Park is in September. The majority of the insects are prevalent in Algonquin Park from May to August – learn about insects in Algonquin Park.
For more of a glamping experience, you may be interested in Yurt Camping in Bruce Peninsula, Ontario.