Article by Mike Simpson
Fall in Toronto and Ontario, Canada, can be epic. It’s a beautiful time for a road trip or local outing to witness the splendor of this amazing season.
Have you got any plans for field trips or outings around the city? Do you like to shoot fall photos? Let me take you on a mini tour of Toronto and suggest some other destinations further afield.
My Love of Fall Runs Deep
As a teacher I always enjoyed fall and sharing the seasonal activities with my students: back to school, fall leaves changing colour, thanksgiving, farmer’s markets, and Hallowe’en are al amazing rituals, particularly through September and October.
As a passionate photographer I also find that fall is a visual feast it inspires me to get out more and get some physical exercise as I stroll around the city on photo walks with my meetup group, or with my family.
How about a short list of spots I’d suggest, some within the city limits, some within an hour or two drive.
I hope you will enjoy this journey through the Greater Toronto Area and Southern Ontario!
We are blessed! Look at this amazing image of Rouge Park in fall.
My local Toronto Fall Field Trip picks:
- Queen’s Park and University of Toronto
- High Park and Trinity Bellwoods
- Osgoode Hall and Metro Hall
My Ontario Fall Road Trip picks:
- Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton, Algonquin Park
- Caledon and the Bruce Trail in West GTA
- Rouge National Park in East GTA
The best things in life or free or close to home I say, so let me first describe easy field trips locations around Toronto, then I’ll go further out of the city into the broader Southern Ontario area to the north, west and east.
Queen’s Park and University of Toronto St. George Campus
Absolutely an easy and central fall walk location is right in the middle of the city. Start near Bay and Bloor and check out the university campus at Victoria College and St. Michael’s College, then walk west to Queen’s Park and then west to the University College and St. George street nexus that is the centre of campus. You can go south toward College St and end up at the marvelous Daniel’s building at Spadina and College (this building is home to the architecture department of the school). This my pick for #1 downtown Toronto fall walk spot.
High Park and Trinity Bellwoods
Both of these parks are in the west end of the city. I’m biased because I live in the High Park area but in the neighbourhoods nearby, including Parkdale, the choices of Trinity Bellwoods and High Park make a lot of sense.
High Park in particular is one of the largest parks in the city, outside of the Rouge which is gigantic. High Park satisfies many of the requirements for a decent field trip, as it is on the subway line, has plenty of amenities including cafe, washrooms, and even a small zoo, and offers a central area that is family friendly and plenty of off the beaten path trails in the west and east. My tip is to spend time in the Oak meadows and on Spring road on the east side, though the manicured gardens near Grenadier pond in the west area are delightful too.
Trinity Bellwoods park is closer to the Queen West, Parkdale, Ossington neighbourhoods. It’s a large spot with good downtown sight-lines and plenty of trees. You can also attend cultural events like the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market which is held Thursday afternoons until October 26.
Osgoode Hall and Metro Hall
In the centre of the city, these two locations have great architecture and plaza areas, awesome for strolls during fall, or any other season. Osgoode is the classical architecture spot, with wonderful trees and a rich historic vibe.
The original building was constructed in the early to mid 1800s in the late Georgian Palladian and Neoclassical styles. It houses Ontario Courts and the Law Society of Ontario among others.
Metro Hall is a different. modern building, again with large grounds perfect for walking. Nestled west of Roy Thomson Hall, there are not a ton of trees, but enough to give that fall in the city feel. We like it because you could easily combine this area with strolls that combine Osgoode Hall or spots like Union Station or CN Tower.
Kawartha Lakes and Algonquin Park.
Though separated by some distance, these areas are related regions north and east of Toronto. The Kawarthas is one of the most accessible spots outside the city, representing cottage country just north of Durham region. Fall drives will be amazing between Oshawa and Peterborough along almost any number of routes. Famous for natural areas and for plenty of routes in the Trent-Severn waterway, there are dozens of potential locations worth your time. Be sure to stop in Bobcaygeon, made famous in the song of the same name by Tragically Hip, or visit the enormous Kirkfield Liftlock, a marvel of Canadian engineering. Plan a road trip to this destination only two hours from the city, and consult the Kawarthas Lakes scenic drives guide for route information. From the Kawarthas, drive north and a little west to Hunstsville or the entrance to the west side of Algonquin Park at the village of Dwight. Both are jumping off points for day trips or weekend trips into one of Canada’s most epic parks – Algonquin Provincial Park!
Algonquin is truly legendary, and through all seasons, but especially fall. Road trips here are going to be super fun and provide plenty of photo opportunities, whether in the lakes or backcountry or along Highway 60, the main road east-west through the park.
Town of Caledon and Bruce Trail
Located north-west of Toronto, the town of Caledon is nestled in the west end of the Oakridges Moraine at the edge of the Niagara Escarpment which makes up the geology of large parts of the Bruce Trail. From the edge of Greater Toronto you can travel north to Collingwood / Blue Mountain. Caledon is a feast for the eyes in fall, with twisty highways passing by parks like Forks of the Credit Provincial Park.
Check out the Caledon town website for lists of parks and trails worth a stop on your fall trip. If you are up for a lengthy road trip, consider the gargantuan Bruce Trail. Famous for hiking, sightseeing and driving, among other natural activities, all the way from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory, Ontario, this series of hiking trails is an astonishing 890 kms long!
“Caledon is by far my favourite for GTA. Rouge Valley for Toronto. Anywhere where this is some sort of elevation. And I love roads….anything with massive depth and colours along it are a dream spot for me.”
– Photographer Eddie Chan aka @eddiemarkhampyro
Rouge National Urban Park
Want to visit close to the city but be immersed in nature? In the very sprawling urban area known as Greater Toronto, sits the Rouge Park, a remarkable and unique natural area protected by virtue of its status as a national park. Situated at the eastern edge of Toronto, situated between Scarborough, Markham, Pickering, Uxbridge, and Whitchurch-Stouffville the park is a 75 km2 behemoth, established only in 2015, but well loved to local adventurers for decades. Visit the Park’s website to learn more about the features, amenities and how to get there and travel around.
What do you think? Ready for a fall road trip or field trip around Toronto or Southern Ontario?
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