By Lori Straus
With temperatures beginning to drop and leaves starting to change colour, now’s a perfect time to go for one last family road trip: it’s not sweltering hot outside, nor is the driving horrid because of snow and ice. Below you’ll find a few recommendations for fall road trips in Southwestern Ontario.
Ciarán Myers, theatre arts professional and father, hails from Elora. He suggests taking Regional Road 23 from Bloomingdale to reach Elora. As you near Inverhaugh, you’ll find to your left a lookout over the Grand River Valley. “Great spot to take in the autumn colours before going into town,” he says. If the Elora Gorge is next on your itinerary, there are two ways to enter: Paid and free.
After your awe-filled stop at the lookout, continue to the main gates of the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. This is a paid entrance.
Or, recommends Myers, drive into town and park near the downtown amenities and restaurants. From Price Street (between West Mill Street and James Street), you’ll find a historic wall on a small hill. Follow the wall up to Victoria Park and enter the conservation area for free.
Father Timothy Veenstra and his family travel to Elora at least once a year. This year, they plan to camp there to celebrate family birthdays.
“Literally the best nature,” Veenstra says, “and a great little town.”
Tobermory sits directly between Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula. It is also the start of the Bruce trail, which runs along the Niagara Escarpment to Niagara. The main path is about 900 km long, and the side trails add up to about 400 km. Approximately 1,400 volunteers help maintain the trails.
“Once the summer crowds are gone,” says language professional and mom Mary Langford, “it’s amazing! Fantastic hiking on the Bruce Trail and stunning views of Georgian Bay.”
Langford suggests, though, that if you’re bringing along children, to stay on the Lake Huron side of Tobermory for hiking. “The Bruce Trail and Georgian Bay side of Tobermory is not a great spot for young children,” she says. “There are steep cliffs, cold water, and cobble beaches.”
How can you not consider Ontario’s perhaps most iconic provincial park as a possible destination for your Ontario road trip? I desired to see the leaves in Algonquin Park so much during the fall that my husband and I spent our honeymoon at a resort just outside one of its gates.
Algonquin Park’s website has a fall colour report, i.e., it shows you how far the leaves have come in their fall colour change. Maple appears to be near its height already, but poplar and birch trees are just beginning.
So, pack your family van, book a hotel or camping site spot, and head out. This is arguably the most beautiful time of the year in Southwestern Ontario, but it doesn’t last long.