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12 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Canada 2021 (Best Time & Foliage Map)

12 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Canada 2021 (Best Time & Foliage Map)

    Fall is a gorgeous time to visit Canada as you'll get a chance to see trees change from green to vibrant autumn oranges, yellows, and reds throughout the country. While the western provinces of British Columbia and Alberta are home to some amazing forests, the intensity and pervasiveness of autumn color tend to be best in the eastern parts of Canada. So if the sole purpose of your visit is to see fall foliage, Ontario, Quebec, or the Maritime provinces are probably your best bet. In the north, the leaves peak a lot earlier, transforming their summer shades of green into reds, yellows, and oranges in September. The further east you travel, the more vibrant the leaves become. If you're planning a trip to Canada during the season, be sure to check out the fall foliage reports, which indicate the leaf color changes by area so that you can optimize peak viewing time wherever you're headed. However, Where is the best place to see the fall foliage in Canada? Where are the best fall colors in Canada? Here I’ve listed 15 of the best places to enjoy the fall foliage across the country. Let's check out.

Cover Photo:valeria_aksakova on freepik.com

丨How to See Canada's Fall Foliage at Its Peak?

1. Weather Network Reports

The Weather Network and its French counterpart, MétéoMédia, are Canada’s main English and French specialty channels with online and television components devoted to the weather. 

Another important part of leaf-peeping is knowing the right time to go! For the best experience, not only should leaves be near their peak colors, but the weather should be agreeable, too. 

  • Avoid rainy, windy days, when the leaves (and you) will be soggy. Strong wind in late fall can even result in prematurely bare trees, so keep that in mind while planning.

  • Some say that a lightly overcast day actually improves the colors of the leaves, making them pop against the somber skies. 

  • Others prefer to bask in autumn’s brilliance under blue skies and full sun. So it's up to you!

2. Fall Foliage Reports

If you're planning a trip to Canada during the season, be sure to check out the fall foliage reports, which indicate the leaf color changes by area so that you can optimize peak viewing time wherever you're headed. 

These reports give a percentage of color change, with 0 percent being no change in color and 100 percent indicating that foliage is at its peak. At 25 percent, the visual impact is dramatic and probably worth a visit for most foliage fans. Keep in mind that the more northern the location, the earlier the leaves peak.

Canada's fall foliage reports are scarcer than those for the United States leaf-peeping destinations. Some are not updated reports but are just helpful guides to foliage road trips, train rides, hiking trails, and even gondola rides that are all great ways to explore the beauty of Canada's top fall color destinations.

And most states or state parks have their own official website, which will provide real-time maple leaf changes and the best viewing time. Let’s check out the best places to see fall foliage in Canada. There are fall foliage reports for you, don't miss it.

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Source:ontarioparks.com

丨Best Places to See Fall Foliage in Canada

1. The Rocky Mountains: Alberta

Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most beautiful mountain scenery, with the dramatic Rockies even more stunning in the fall. In September and October, try sites such as Johnston’s Canyon and Tunnel Mountain near Banff or hike up to Lake Agnes from Lake Louise. The drive from Jasper to Banff is breathtaking, especially on Icefields Parkways, prepare to soak up one of the best views in the world at Icefields Parkways, with a plethora of fall colours from every vantage point. For a bird’s-eye view, treat yourself to a gondola ride at the top of Sulphur Mountain, where you’ll glide up over the treetops and have a glimpse of local wildlife.

Rocky Mountains? Breathtaking. Fall colours. Beautiful. The two combined? An unforgettable experience. Fall is an ideal time to visit the Rockies because the craziness of the summer’s tourism has died down, and the winter ski season hasn’t started up yet.

Check out the live webcam on Sulphur Mountain for the fall foliage in the Banff area: It offers a bird's eye view of the town of Banff and the Rocky Mountains in the background. Although many trees are coniferous, and therefore remain green year-round, on a clear day, you may see the uniform golden hue of the aspens.

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Source:Mike Nielsen on flickr.com

Where to Stay?

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2. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

The size, beauty, and proximity to Toronto of this 2,955 square-mile park make Algonquin one of the most popular parks in Ontario. The oldest provincial park in Canada, it is comprised of dense forests and thousands of lakes and can be explored by hiking, camping, kayaking, canoeing. 

There’s a reason why thousands of people flock to the park in the autumn every year. The red and sugar maples shine brightest from mid-September to mid-October, and the golden aspens, red oaks, and tamaracks follow shortly after.

The maple trees are at their best at the end of September or early October, while aspens, tamaracks, and red oaks reach their peak in the middle or end of October. Consult the Algonquin Fall Colour Report for fall color activity and specific viewing spots. For timely information, you could also follow Ontario and Algonquin Park on Twitter to get details on local sightings.

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Source:Mike Nielsen on flickr.com

3. Bruce Peninsula: Ontario

The Bruce Peninsula between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron is full of indigenous history and features one of the best portions of the Bruce Trail—an almost 800-mile hiking trail—comprised of splendid Ontario flora, fauna, and water vistas. 

The Bruce Peninsula is full of gorgeous autumn scenery. The park has a forest of cedar trees, some of which are possibly a thousand years old, that turn the most striking shade of yellow and orange in late September and early October. One of the best ways to explore the park is on foot through the 800 km long Bruce Trail from the end of September to mid-October. 

Check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.

4. Niagara Parkway, Ontario

River Road, also known as the historic Niagara Parkway, follows the curves of the Niagara River which divides the U.S. and Canada. Once called “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” by Winston Churchill, during autumn, it’s like driving through a gallery of Impressionist paintings. The loveliest stretch during this season is between the towns of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Queenston, at its peak in early October. The maple trees that edge the river create a changing panorama of gold, orange and red, while the grass is still lush and green. Along the way, you’ll find a number of scenic lookout spots to take it all in, including Heights Park in Queenston which showcases an impressive vista of the river and Lake Ontario. During the fall this route, which runs along the Niagara river along the Canada-US border, is a not-to-miss sight.

Check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.

5. Killarney Provincial Park, Ontario

Killarney Provincial Park lies on the Georgian Bay in the Ontario province. There have already been reports of fall colors appearing in parts of the park. The park is spread over 250 sq miles. The view of the Bay’s pink granite, of the white quartzite ridges of White Cloche Mountains and the 50 lakes nestled among the Jack Pine Hills are some of the best sights in the province, regardless of the season.

By late August, early September, you can start planning your trip to the park to see the colors changing. The fall colors are expected to stay through September and peak in mid-October. The best locations to view the colors are at Sunset Rock, a short trek between site 77 and 78 in the George Lake Campground. You can also try the Granite Ridge, Chikanishing, The Crack and Lake of the Woods Day Trails. During peak season, the colors of the Oak, Maple, Poplar, and Birch trees are a sight to behold.

Check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.

6. Agawa Canyon, Ontario

If you are looking for an accessible fall colours wilderness experience the Agawa Canyon Tour Train is at the top of world's list of unique excursions. The one-day excursion takes you 114 miles (railways use Imperial units) north of Sault Ste. Marie, over towering trestles, alongside picturesque northern lakes and rivers and through the rugged granite formations and the mixed forests of the Canadian Shield. It was what the Group of Seven used as a backdrop for their panoramic masterpieces featuring the brilliant fall colours of the Algoma Highlands. 

You could also visit the canyon by another train. There is the regular passenger train service that links Hearst to Sault Ste. Marie 296 miles (476 km) to the north, operating three times per week, north and south. Unlike the one-day Agawa Canyon Tour Train, which travels non-stop to the canyon, you will be travelling on a unique service "milk run" or "flag line" that picks up and drops off passengers at any mile point.

You can also hike in. Not many undertake this option. Along the way you can then see Agawa Falls, the second highest waterfall, next to Niagara Falls. It has a straight drop and is truly magnificent, one of the best in Northern Ontario. 

You can then walk into the canyon to camp and take the needed time to enjoy the setting. Stay off the tracks!

The hike in has two options. Board the passenger train in Sault Ste. Marie and ask for a ticket to Mileage 107 this will get you within approximately 600 metres of Agawa Falls, not seen from the train.

Check the winter and summer schedules for the train going north one day and then returning, the next. Click here the seasonal train schedules.

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Source:Derek Hatfield on flickr.com

7. Muskoka, Ontario

Muskoka's signature fiery red maples are sprinkled throughout panoramic views of oranges and yellows to create a fall foliage scene. However, the coolest part of the central Ontario region's fall beauty is that you can experience it in a number of unique and adventurous ways.

Muskoka is truly an outdoor playground throughout the entire year but it really shines during the Fall. In September and October its rugged landscape explodes with vibrant red, yellows and oranges. Forget your fanny pack and boring leaf peeping map and venture on a boat cruise, helicopter tour, ATV tour, zip line excursion, or kayaking adventure in Muskoka instead. Even better, Muskoka doesn't experience the intense leaf peeping crowds that more well-known Ontario destinations see, so you can spend less time in your vehicle and more time out exploring.

Muskoka was named by Huffington Post as the best place in Canada to view fall colours! Don't miss it. Check out Mmuskoka official website for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.

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Source:tommy on flickr.com

In Ontario, Frontenac Provincial Park, Bonechere Provincial Park, and Bon Echo Provincial Park are also good places to see fall foliage. If you are close to these places, going here is undoubtedly the best choice.

8. Laurentian Mountains: Quebec

Québec is famous for its autumn colors because of the sugar maple trees. Also prevalent are the provincial yellow birch and the American beech. Try the Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec—north of the St. Lawrence and Ottawa rivers—for one of the most beautiful displays of fall foliage in North America. Colors begin their peak at the end of September and continue until mid- to late-October in lower elevations and more southern locations. 

To plan your fall colour tour in Quebec, check out Quebec Original for a report on the evolution of fall colours for all regions of Quebec.

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Source:Kuiyan Xu on wikimedia.org

9. Charlevoix, Quebec

Charlevoix is a delight and is one of Quebec's best places to see fall colors. The valley was formed some 350 million years ago by a meteorite, earning it the title of UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. With rolling hills densely packed with aspen and coniferous, poplar and maple trees, the scenery is a must-see.

While Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes in Parc National des Grands Jardins is worth the hike, a helicopter tour is the best way to take in the autumn scenery. From up above, you can see the valley ablaze with seasonal trees. When you touch down, hire a car and gear up to take in the local "Flavor Trail," where you can indulge in delicious harvest produce and warm apple cider produced by microbreweries. Thanks to Charlevoix's complex biodiversity, you can indulge in some of Canada's best meat, cider and cheese.

Check out Charlevoix official website to discover the autumn foliage.

10. Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island: Nova Scotia

Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail is often ranked among the most scenic drives on the planet, and when autumn arrives, it becomes even more magnificent. Fiery reds, oranges, crimsons, and golds blanket the highlands and reach their peak the first or second week of October. The route also passes directly through the stunning landscapes of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, which is all the more beautiful at this transitionary time of year.

In October, the must-do event in Cape Breton is the Celtic Colours International Festival, a celebration of Celtic music and culture. Enjoy a “Perfect Picnic” at the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The feast for your eyes doesn’t end when the sun goes down—Cape Breton has some amazing stargazing opportunities too. Take in the night sky as you get ready for sleep in a geodesic dome at Pleasant Bay and Dingwall.

The best time to plan a fall getaway to Cape Breton is in early October, when the colours reach their peak, the crowds are gone, and the temperature is just right. For more info go to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Consult the Nova Scotia Fall Foliage Report for detailed autumn color activity. Again, you'll need to find a small ship to make your way here.

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Source:Dennis Jarvis on flickr.com

11. Vancouver, British Columbia

Yes, there's fall foliage in western Canada as well. Vancouver is gorgeous in the fall as a destination in its own right in addition as the departure port for Alaska cruises. Ski, cycle, hike or sail, then head downtown for great shopping, restaurants, museums and spectacular urban parklands. One of the best, Stanley Park, is a 1,000-acre green space bordering the harbor. A popular choice is ecomarine kayaking off Granville Island. For landlubbers, take the Sky Ride tram up to the 3,700-foot summit of Grouse Mountain and its colorful fall canopy. 

Check out Vancouver official website for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.

12. Via Rail: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia

There is nothing more spectacular or romantic than the dramatic changes autumn brings to the forests of Eastern Canada, and there's something also romantic about experiencing the colors by train. VIA Rail, Canada's national train service, offers a fall foliage vacation that features some of Canada's most dramatic viewing spots through popular cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Québec City, and Halifax.

The train has various scenic routes available all year for your family's enjoyment, including some that are geared toward fall foliage. The most popular train route in eastern Canada is the Windsor-Québec Corridor, which runs through major cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Québec City. While this one is great for moving around and surely offers some autumnal views, the scenery is mostly urban. For a truly spectacular ride, try the route from Montreal up north to Jonquière or Senneterre.

Lastly, a few things you may want to remember while planning trips to the park are:

  • Ensure you know what the rules are — where can you park? Where can you camp? Are pets allowed? 

  • Make sure you dress appropriately. Parts of the park can get chilly, irrespective of season. It’s best to carry a raincoat or a windcheater for safety.

  • The trails can be long and tiring, so make sure you wear the right footwear.

  • Pack water, small snacks, a map or a compass and ensure your phone is fully charged (though parts of the parks may not have service).

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