If there was ever a best season for hiking in Ontario, the obvious answer would be FALL. Not only is the blistering heat of summer finally giving us a break, but the beautiful foliage of Ontario has begun to change colours – the red, orange, and yellow hues are a stunning sight to see. To really experience the best the Greater Toronto Area has to offer, we suggest the following hikes for all those wanting to experience the great outdoors this fall.
Located in Milton, within the Niagara Escarpment, Rattlesnake Point is more than just a beautiful view from the top of limestone cliffs. The area features four scenic hiking trails, all ranging in length, for a total of 12 kilometers of trails that are available for hikers of all experience levels. Stop at one of the five lookout spots indicated on the trail maps to fully immerse yourself in the fall beauty of the Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area. We recommend the Buffalo Crag Lookout Point for the perfect autumn picture. Breathe in the fresh air and breathe out the city stress! Details
2. Evergreen Brick Works
Scheduling in a fall hike into your hectic itinerary is easier than ever with the option to visit Evergreen Brick Works. Conveniently located in Toronto, the Don Valley Brick Works has an expansive green space, covering over 40 acres, that is open to all to enjoy. Wander around the shale and clay quarry and the trails while having the Toronto skyline in the distance. While hiking, explore the ponds and look for wildlife in your surroundings – each route varies in length. Best of all – the fall leaves will provide the perfect backdrop for photos.
3. Mast Trail
One of the most impressive Toronto area hikes is the Mast Trail, that starts at the Glen Rouge Campground located at the border of Scarborough and Pickering. It is an hiking experience of approximately 5 kilometres roundtrip that leads hikers through a 200-year-old former logging route. It features beautiful Carolinian ecosystems and trees that change to bright colours throughout the fall. Be sure to check out the Mast Trail ridge walk and staircase – you’ll want to bring your camera for this one! Details
4. Lynde Shores Conservation Area
For hiking enthusiasts closer to Whitby, the Lynde Shores Conservation Area provides the perfect environment for a fall hike. The trails of Lynde Shores Conservation Area require little prior experience making it an ideal spot for families and young children. There are a number of trails (approximately 5 kilometres) that are short and loop around, convenient for those wishing to get a glimpse of nature with minimal effort! With two significant wetlands in the area, diverse wildlife can often be seen. Stop along the Cranberry Marsh and try to spot some shorebirds, ducks, or waterfowl prior to their migration south.
5. Albion Hills Red Trail
Albion Hills, Ontario’s first conservation area, is another perfect fall hike destination. The park covers an impressive 1100 acres and gives outdoor enthusiasts plenty to explore. For an ideal fall day, spend your time exploring the Red Trail, a route that is 9 kilometres long. The natural scenery varies throughout, providing hikers with several different environments during the hike. Follow through forested land and cross Centreville Creek before reaching the centre meadows. During the fall, the meadow is especially impressive with bright coloured flowers such as goldenrod and aster. As the trail loops, take in the view of Caledon Hills before finishing your day! Details
6. Monocliffs Provincial Park
Located in Dufferin County, The Mono Cliffs Provincial Park features a connecting loop of moderate trails that is 9 kilometers in length, with stunning foliage such as maple and spruce trees, meadows, and raspberry bushes. Take the McCarston’s Lake Trail to get a view of the pond from above. As indicated by its name, the park has beautiful cliff faces that can be observed throughout the area, particularly from the viewing platform found along the Cliff Top Trail. One of the most impressive trails is Jacob’s Ladder, which takes you down the rugged rock and along the way you may even see fossilized sea creatures! (Though part of Toronto CMA, Mono is not in GTA) Details
7. Beaver Dam Trail
Conveniently located in Milton off the 401, the Hilton Falls Conservation Area offers stunning hiking grounds surrounded by several water features. Experience the fresh air of fall by taking a hike on the Beaver Dam Trail through dense forests and wetlands. Along the way, be on the lookout for beavers and learn about their impact at six interactive spots. Watch for other wildlife such as moose, bears, deer, and heron, and enjoy the various sugar maple, birch, elm, ash, and oak trees as they turn colours this autumn. The trail is 4.5 kilometres in length and is moderate in difficulty.
8. Applewood Trail
Within the sprawling urban development of Mississauga, you can find the Applewood Trail, named after the first development of apple orchards in the area – it serves as a great reminder of the days when the land was used for farming and pastures. The trail is easy to hike, kid-friendly, and is approximately 7 kilometres long roundtrip. This hike features a paved path that follows the Etobicoke Creek and passes through re-naturalized areas that sustain the ecosystem. Along the way you will find several footbridges, parks and playgrounds. It is the ideal place to spend a fall day with the family. Details
9. East Don Parkland
This fall, “walk the Don” and explore the lush ravines, wildlife meadows, and wetlands. With the . Of particular interest is the restored wetlands which boasts wildlife such as frogs, birds, and deer, all which have made it their home since 2008. The natural heritage of this trail will make you want to explore for hours, walking along the river and valleys, and make you forget that you’re on the edges of metropolitan Toronto. Details
10. Humber Arboretum and West Humber River Valley
Located in Etobicoke, the Humber Arboretum grounds cover 250 acres and are filled with beautiful forests, flowers, and ponds and its trails are a mix between hard-packed, paved, and grass routes. The easy trail is 10 kilometres long; it winds through the West Humber River valley and follows along the Humber River. The trail passes through ornamental gardens and woodland, consisting of over 1700 species of trees – the fall colours will be plentiful! Though it is close to the city and is filled with wildlife, the lush environment provides an isolated atmosphere and quiet experience throughout. Details
11. Joker’s Hill Conservation Area
Located in Newmarket, Ontario, the Joker’s Hill Conservation Area consists of three short hiking trails that vary between 1.5 and 3.0 kilometre loops. All three loops pass through the Koffler Scientific Reserve and are open to naturalists of all ages. The Green Trail runs through a habitat of restored red pines while the Blue Trail passes through a regenerating forest and maple sugar bush. For the fall, the hike we recommend is the Red Trail, as this loop is the longest of the three (3.0 kilometres) and offers the widest variety of trees, giving you the most opportunity to take in the changing colours of the leaves. Details
12. The Happy Valley Forest
Take a fall hike through one of the largest intact hardwood forests of the Oak Ridges Moraine. The Happy Valley Forest is located in King, Ontario – its 2850-acre land consists of rolling topography, fields, creeks and valleys. It also boasts swamps and wetlands, as well as rare species of birds such as the Hooded Warbler and Red-Shouldered Hawk. Hiking through this forest will allow you to enjoy several ponds and the many tree species that provide bright colours during the fall season. Look for the red maples, largetooth aspen, sugar maple and occasional beech tree. Details
13. Uxbridge Trails
At the ‘Trail Capital of Canada’, take your pick of fall hiking trails throughout the township of Uxbridge. The trails offer access to people of all ages, abilities, and interests, and is particularly pleasant to walk through during the fall. Explore the variety of natural habitats of the area such as meadows, dense woodlands, wetlands and ponds. Start with the Butternut Trail for an easy and short loop through the Butternut Village development. For a longer trail, look for signs that connect this trail to the South Balsam Trail or the Quaker Trail. Details
14. Bronte Creek Provincial Park
For a Fall hike with young children, visit Bronte Creek Provincial Park located in Oakville. The park provides leisurely trails that are available throughout its day-use area. Each trail is upto 2.5 kilometers in length, offering an excellent place to explore unique natural landscapes and wildlife. With over 190 species of birds, keep your eyes peeled for migrating hawks, eagles, and various owls! For an all-accessible trail, choose the short Trillium Trail (1 kilometre); for a longer route, choose the Half Moon Valley Trail (2 kilometres). An added bonus is the mp3 self-guided tour that is available for download prior to your hike! The fact that the trails are short and there is a barn with animals, makes it a perfect hike with your little ones! Details
15. Altona Forest
Located at the western edge of City of Pickering, Altona Forest is an environmentally significant Urban Forest, that protects many migratory and songbirds, foxes, beaver, owls, deer, wild turkeys, eastern coyotes, hawks and rare amphibians. Discover the colours of Altona Forest by hiking over five kilometers of trail system that takes you through cedar bog, amphibian ponds, maple hemlock forest beaver pond, and more!
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