10 Ultimate Ontario Fall Colour Lookouts
From climbing old fire towers to hiking rocky mountain cliffs, you’ll be rewarded with 100% Instagrammably breathtaking views lit up by a colourful medley of greens, ambers, golds and reds. No filters needed.
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The hike begins at Calabogie Peaks Resort with an easy 1.5 km (just under a mile) walk up a slow incline to the 120 m (394 ft) high cliff-top for a spectacular bird’s eye view of the wilderness below. Or opt for the longer 9 km (5.6 mi) Manitou Mountain trail that passes three other mountain vistas before leading up to the money shot at Eagle’s Nest Lookout.
Note: not to be confused with Eagle’s Nest Bancroft that provides a stunning view of the York River Valley.
Where to Stay: Choose from boutique hotel rooms or mountainside condos at Calabogie Peaks Resort.
For panoramic views worthy of any Instagram account, take a walk along Lions Lookout Trail in Huntsville. The 1.5 km long trail can be accessed via Forbes Hill Drive and Camp Kitchen Road, and climbs up over the Muskoka River and Fairy Lake, with an overlook offering spectacular views of the city beneath and the surrounding hills.
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.
Tip: Nearby, 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.
Where to Stay: Treat yourself to the height of luxury, elegance and hospitality at Langdon Hall Country Hotel & Spa in Cambridge.
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 m (1148 ft) 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 m (230 ft) tall cliffs.
Where to Stay: The design for The Manitoulin Hotel & Conference Centre was inspired by the beauty of the region and the culture of the Indigenous people of Manitoulin.
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 that looks a lot like Pride Rock in the Lion King. The full Skinner’s Bluff Trail system is 19 km (12 mi), 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 shinning waters and islands dotting Colpoy’s Bay, a scenic inlet of Georgian Bay.
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 four incredible fall getaway packages offered at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.
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 m (492 ft) wide gorge is flanked by 100 m (328 ft) deep sheer cliff face and extends over 2,000 m (6562 ft) 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.
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 just 50 km (31 mi) 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. 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 m (400 ft) high observation deck at the top of the 1000 Island Tower.
Note: This attraction includes an elevator.
Where to Stay: Soak up small town hospitality at The Cove Country Inn overlooking the lake in Westport.
The Scarborough Bluffs is a natural geological lakeside landmark in Toronto’s east end, the result of sedimentary deposits over 12,000 years ago, as well as wind and water erosion. The 15 km (9.3 mi) 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. Bluffers Park provides access to the beach below, another great vantage point from which to admire the splendid fall colour.
Where to Stay: There’s an accommodation option to suit every style and budget in Canada’s most cosmopolitan city. But if it’s views you’re after, check out the vista from Hotel X, Toronto’s waterfront oasis.
Just 20 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ila’s Loop hike to Robertson Cliffs is one of the many stunning hikes in the Algoma area. Part of the Voyageur Trail Association, the loop is approximately 5 km, starting from the trailhead on Buttermilk Ski Hill Road, 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.
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.
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 is a result of exposed and eroded shale, and the striking colour is due to iron oxide deposits. This sensitive landscape has recently been reopened to the public with new accessible boardwalk and 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.
Where to Stay: Rejuvenate weary muscles at the Millcroft Inn & Spa, a member of the elegant Vintage Hotels group of properties.