When summer turns to autumn, few places on earth see as spectacular a transformation as Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Here are just a few of our favourite spots to see the changing fall foliage in all its red, green, and orange glory. By Kristin Braginetz.
Slip on your hiking shoes, pack a picnic lunch, and get ready for one stunning nature walk. Hundreds of kilometres of old Indian footpaths wind their way through 361 square kilometres of unspoiled land, making Gatineau Park the ideal way to spend a day outdoors. For those who prefer to travel on two wheels, much of the park is also bike-friendly. Several points offer awe-inspiring views — stop and catch your breath at Étienne-Brûlé Lookout, Eardley Escarpment, or the Mackenzie King Estate. Be sure to grab a map from the park’s visitor centre in Old Chelsea before you go. 613-239-5000; 819-827-2020, www.gatineaupark.ca.
Though it may be best known for being the world’s largest skating rink in winter, this Ottawa landmark serves a purpose year-round. In autumn, the trees that line the Rideau Canal turn vibrant colours, providing a beautiful backdrop for anyone walking, jogging, or biking along the historic waterway. For an active afternoon, nature lovers can rent a bike (see “Outdoor Adventures & Sports” on p.64 for a couple options) and spend the day cycling the length of the canal. If you’d prefer to be right on the water, consider a boat cruise, or paddle yourself around on a kayak. 613-239-5000, www.canadascapital.gc.ca.
THE DOMINION ARBORETUM
Where better to observe beautiful greenery than at a site that’s devoted to it? Over 2,400 varieties of trees and shrubs (some of which date back as far as 1889) on 26 hectares of land can be found at the Arboretum. Two lookout points — one on the southeast side and another at the northeast end — offer gorgeous views of the Rideau Canal and Dows Lake, respectively. Located right in the middle of the city (on the grounds of the Central Experimental Farm), it’s the perfect place to see fantastic fall leaves without leaving town. Experimental Farm Dr., www.friendsofthefarm.ca.
It’s a bit of a drive from Ottawa (about two to two and a half hours), but the stunning views at this popular Quebec resort are well worth the travel time. Through the fall, the snow-free ski hills and surrounding forests make a dramatic transformation. Take a gondola ride to the top of the summit to experience one of the most breathtaking sights in the region. While you’re at the resort, check out the bevy of fall activities on offer. If you’re looking to stay the night, Tremblant offers plenty of accommodations right in the pedestrian village. Mont Tremblant, Quebec, 1-866-356-2233, www.tremblant.ca.