Ultimate Ontario fall colour lookouts
Hike to one of these lookouts on your next fall season getaway in Ontario.
From climbing old fire towers to hiking rocky mountain cliffs, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views lit up by a colourful medley of greens, ambers, golds and reds at these lookout spots.
For your safety and to preserve sensitive landscapes, follow signage and instructions on all trails, boardwalks and lookouts in Ontario and check weather conditions prior to departure.
Lookouts in Southern Ontario
Spy Rock Lookout, Westport
Head to Foley Mountain Conservation Area in the Rideau Valley for a fantastic viewpoint atop a protruding granite ridge. The showstopping view includes the Upper Rideau Lake and the village of Westport about half an hour drive south of Perth in eastern Ontario.
There are five marked trails, including the wide, crushed stone, low-grade Mobility Trail that allows for wheelchair access to the lookout point. The conservation area lies within the Frontenac Arch, one of four UNESCO designated World Biosphere Reserves in Ontario and part of Ontario’s Amazing Places program.
Location: 105 Foley Mountain Lane, Westport, 55 kilometres (under an hour drive) north of Kingston.
Where to stay: Soak up small-town hospitality at The Cove Country Inn overlooking the lake in Westport.
Nearby attraction: About an hour’s drive south is another highlight within the biosphere. A remarkable view of the 1000 Islands and St. Lawrence River awaits from the 122 metre (400 foot) high observation deck at the top of the 1000 Island Tower. Note: This attraction includes an elevator.
Scarborough Bluffs, Greater Toronto Area
The Scarborough Bluffs is a natural geological lakeside landmark in Toronto’s east end between the eastern Beaches and East Point Park. It is the result of sedimentary deposits over 12,000 years ago, as well as wind and water erosion.
The 15-kilometre (9.3 miles) escarpment features dramatic cliffs that plunge down into Lake Ontario below. There are eleven designated park areas along the escarpment with extensive trails, recreation facilities and mythic views. Bluffer’s Park provides access to the beach below, another great vantage point from which to admire the splendid fall colour.
Location: 1 Brimley Road South, Scarborough district of Toronto, Bluffer’s Park can be accessed by can on Brimley Road, with very limited parking. Seasonal, weekend public bus (175 Bluffer’s Park) transportation service is available between Kennedy Station and Bluffer’s Park between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Where to stay: There’s an accommodation option to suit every style and budget in Canada’s most cosmopolitan city. For proximity, the Toronto Don Valley Hotel is located a short distance away. But if its views you’re after, check out the vista from Hotel X, Toronto’s waterfront oasis.
Skinners Bluff Scenic Lookout, Wiarton
Just northeast of Wiarton in Grey County, on an extension of the Bruce Trail, you’ll find a massive rock jutting out of the landscape like a natural viewing platform.
The full Skinner’s Bluff Trail system is 19 kilometres (12 miles), but you can beeline from the parking lot to the lookout spot in just 15 minutes. Take care over the rocky terrain and steep drops along the way.
The best views are from the east and north sides of the escarpment overlooking the forest below and the shining waters and islands dotting Colpoy’s Bay, a scenic inlet of Georgian Bay.
Location: 502729 Grey Road 1, east of Wiarton, 75 kilometres (under an hour drive) south of Tobermory and 95 kilometres (just over an hour drive) northwest of Blue Mountain.
Where to stay: Waterview Resort is the closest waterfront accommodation, just outside nearby Wiarton (home of Canada’s most famous groundhog). Or book one of the getaway packages offered at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.
Rattlesnake Point, Milton
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton is beautiful in every season, but in fall, it is nothing short of breathtaking. With sheer cliffs, cave systems and rock crevices, this spot is a mecca for rock climbers.
The park features several trails of varying levels of ease, including the Buffalo Crag Trail. It begins at the parking lot and follows along the edge of the Niagara Escarpment cliffs to stellar lookout points of the Nassagaweya Canyon below and countryside beyond.
Location: 7200 Appleby Line, Milton, approximately 60 kilometres (45 minutes drive) west of downtown Toronto.
Note: Reservations may be required to visit select Conservation Areas during busy periods, check in advance and make your booking online.
Where to stay: Treat yourself to the height of luxury, elegance and hospitality at Langdon Hall Country Hotel & Spa in nearby Cambridge.
Nearby attraction: Lesser-known Mount Nemo Conservation Area also features a ribbon of exposed rock face with equally amazing views from the top. In fact, you can see the Toronto skyline on a clear day. Keep an eye out for mighty turkey vultures soaring by.
Eagle’s Nest Lookout, Calabogie
The hike to this lookout begins at Calabogie Peaks Resort with an easy 1.5 kilometres (just under a mile) walk up a slow incline to the 120 metre (394 foot) high cliff-top for a spectacular bird’s eye view of the wilderness below. Or opt for the longer nine kilometre (5.6 mile) Manitou Mountain trail that passes three other mountain vistas before leading up to the money shot at Eagle’s Nest Lookout.
Location: Calabogie Road (508), about 100 kilometres (one hour drive) west of Ottawa, you can drive to the trailhead on Highway 508 west, 2.2 kilometres past Calabogie Peaks Resort, parking is available on the right side of the road.
Note: Not to be confused with Eagle’s Nest Bancroft which provides a stunning view of the York River Valley in Hastings Highlands.
Cheltenham Badlands, Caledon
West of Caledon on Olde Base Line Road, and only an hour’s drive from Toronto, lies an amazing geological site so alien looking it could be the set for a Star Trek episode. The undulating rust and red-coloured rocks marked by ribbons of white veins are a result of exposed and eroded shale, and the striking colour is due to iron oxide deposits.
This sensitive landscape is protected and only available for public viewing from a boardwalk and designated trails. Though not technically a hike up, the scene from the viewing platform in the fall is a spectacle you don’t want to miss – waves of rolling red rock framed by blazing autumn colour.
Location: Spproximately 65 kilometres (under an hour drive) northwest of Toronto, eight kilometres outside of Caledon on Olde Base Line Road.
Note: Plan ahead! Paid parking is available by reservation only.
Where to stay: Rejuvenate mind and body at the Millcroft Inn & Spa, a member of the elegant Vintage Hotels group of properties.
Lookouts in Northern Ontario
Dorset Scenic Tower, Algonquin Highlands
Built in 1922 as a lookout for potential forest fires, this historic structure is strictly a tourist attraction today with an awesome 360-degree view 142 metres (465 feet) above Lake of Bays in the gorgeous Haliburton Highlands area.
The Dorset Lookout Tower Trail begins behind the Dorset Heritage Museum on Main Street and continues for over two kilometres uphill through mixed forest to the base of the 30 metre (100 foot) tall tower. Catch your breath and climb up. The scene from the top is well worth the effort.
Location: 1191 Dorset Scenic Tower Road (located off Highway 35, just north of the village of Dorset), 40 kilometres (30 minutes drive) east of Huntsville and 60 kilometres (about a 50-minute drive) northwest of Haliburton.
Note: Operation season runs May through October, tickets must be purchased in advance and parking fees apply.
Where to stay: Haliburton Highlands and Muskoka offer a variety of accommodation options, from upscale lakeside Deerhurst Resort to Firehouse Lodge, Hollow Valley Resort and cozy cabins at Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Centre.
Nearby attraction: In Huntsville, check out Lion's Lookout. A 1.5-kilometre-long road accessed via Forbes Hill Drive and Camp Kitchen Road climbs up over the Muskoka River and Fairy Lake, with an overlook offering spectacular views of the city beneath and the surrounding hills. Limited parking at the top, more parking available at the Recreation Centre below.
East Lookout, Manitoulin Island
There are several trails along the Manitoulin Extension of the Niagara Escarpment, including the awesome Cup and Saucer Trail that leads you up the 350 metre (1148 foot) climb to the highest point on Manitoulin Island just past the East Lookout.
The trail begins at the parking lot on Bidwell Road and Highway 540 and involves a few ladder and rope climbs on the way to the top of the imposing 70 metre (230 foot) tall cliffs.
Location: Cold Springs, at the intersection of Highways 540 and Bidwell Road, 24 kilometres south of Little Current, north of M’Chigeeng on Manitoulin Island.
Where to stay: The design for The Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre was inspired by the beauty of the region and the Indigenous culture on Manitoulin.
Ouimet Canyon, near Thunder Bay
About an hour’s drive northeast of Thunder Bay, off the Trans Canada Hwy, lies Ouimet Canyon, one of Ontario’s most dramatic vistas.
Located within Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, the vast 150 metre (492 foot) wide gorge is flanked by 100 metre (328 foot) deep sheer cliff face and extends over 2,000 metres (6562 feet) long.
Follow the groomed trail and boardwalk connecting two observation platforms for the ultimate viewing spot. Or join local thrill chasers, Eagle Canyon Adventures, who invite you to cross Canada’s longest suspension footbridge and ride Canada’s longest, highest and fastest zip line.
Location: Greenwich Lake Road, Pass Lake, 85 kilometres east of Thunder Bay, exit onto Ouimet Canyon Road off Hwy 17 (Trans Canada Highway).
Robertson Cliffs, Sault Ste. Marie
Ila’s Loop hike to Robertson Cliffs is one of the many stunning hikes in the Algoma area. It’s located about half an hour north of Sault Ste. Marie.
Part of the Voyageur Trail Association, the loop is approximately five kilometres, starting from the trailhead on Robertson Lake Road, off of Old Highway 17, and is marked with white signage. Follow the blue trail to reach Robertson waterfalls, before returning to the main trail and climbing up to the top of a 150-metre tall cliff formation. The views of the boreal forest below and Lake Superior beyond are incredible. The yellow-marked trail is your best option for your descent as it is not quite as steep a grade.
Join Forest the Canoe on a three-hour, guided, interpretive hike to Robertson Cliffs.
Location: Outside of Goulais River, 35 kilometres (30 minutes drive) north of Sault Ste. Marie on Trans-Canada Highway 17, parking is available on the right side of Robertson Lake Road.
Where to stay: In addition to the luxury rooms and suites, the full spa, whirlpool and pools, fitness centre, grill pub, landscapes gardens and photo gallery, The Water Tower Inn feels more like a resort than a hotel.
Tower Hill Lookout & Heritage Garden, Parry Sound
For a stunning panoramic view of Georgian Bay, climb the 130 steps of the city’s unique, 30-metre-high observation tower at the Tower Hill Lookout & Heritage Garden.
Originally built in the 1920s as a fire lookout tower and a public observation point, the tower was designed both to entertain and to educate visitors about forest safety—a major concern for the local logging industry after the Great Fire of 1916.
After taking in the amazing views, come back to earth and stroll through the beautiful historic gardens below, complete with goldfish pond and pedestal sundial. Then visit the Museum on Tower Hill to learn more about local history—everything from shipwrecks to the local logging trade and what life was like in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Location: 17 George Street, Parry Sound, just east of downtown Parry Sound, access the Tower Hill Lookout on foot (about a 20 minute walk) or car (five minute drive) via Seguin Street and Great North Road.
Where to stay: Parry Sound offers overnight visitors lots of great options, from full-service hotels to cozy campgrounds and pet-friendly B&Bs. For a comfy stay in the heart of the city, try the Bayside Inn.
Fire Tower Lookout, Elliot Lake
Elliot Lake Fire Tower offers a spectacular view of Algoma’s autumn foliage from one of the region’s highest points. Cast your eyes across the orange, red and pink treetops, looking south toward Westner Lake. On a clear day, you might even catch a glimpse of Manitoulin Island.
Learn more about the region’s history—and grab a snack and a few souvenirs—in the nearby Fire Ranger’s Heritage Centre, a restored cabin that was once home to the tower watchman and his family. Don’t forget to share your tower view with family and friends, wherever they may be, via the tower’s livestream cameras.
Location: Fire Tower Road, Elliot Lake is an eight-minute drive from Elliot Lake. Travelling north on Highway 108, turn right (east) onto Milliken Mine Road and follow this for about three kilometres until you see Fire Tower Road on your right. The Tower is at the end of the road.
Where to stay: Give overstimulated eyes a much-needed rest at one of the many local hotels, campgrounds or lodges. For a rustic, lakeside stay try the nearby Ten Mile Lake Lodge or Dunlop Lake Lodge, or for a more urban experience try the Hampton Inn by Hilton Elliot Lake on Highway 108.
Nearby attractions: If you’re feeling adventurous, take in some of the other beautiful lakes, waterfalls and clifftops along the Deer Trail Drive that runs from Elliot Lake through Mississagi Provincial Park to Iron Bridge and Blind River.
Temagami Tower, Temagami
For unmissable views in Northeastern Ontario, visit the Temagami Tower and viewing platform. It’s one of the best spots to view the surrounding landscape’s vast forests, dotted with crystal-blue lakes.
The tower sits atop Caribou Mountain in the middle of the 800-hectare White Bear Forest, home to many of the province’s oldest pine trees (some more than 500 years old!).
Originally made of wood itself when it was built in 1910, the modern steel tower is the area’s most famous landmark. On a very clear day you might even spot the tower’s twin on Maple Mountain, one of the highest points in Ontario.
Location: You’ll find the tower at 112 Jack Guppy Way, Temagami, just a five-minute drive (or 30-minute walk) from the town of Temagami. From Highway 11, head east on O’Connor Drive. Then turn right onto Jack Guppy Way and follow the road as it winds around toward the tower parking lot, at the end of the road. The tower is a short walk from the parking lot.
Where to stay: Visitors looking for lodging nearby can find both dining and accommodation at Temagami Shores Inn and Restaurant. Fishing, ATV and snowmobile enthusiasts will discover lots of fun outdoor activities at Lake Herridge Lodge and Resort.
Last updated: September 25, 2023