Autumn’s Final Display: Welcome to The Golden Encore

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When the red and orange leaves drop to the ground, a second forest display commences in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto.

As October days and nights turn cool and crisp, the maple trees shed their bright red and orange leaves. But the annual fireworks are not over yet – fall has another show up its sleeve! It’s called the ‘Golden Encore’ and it is happening now across Ontario’s cottage country.

For the next couple of weeks, birch and poplar tree leaves turn vibrant shades of yellow, followed by the fiery shimmer of tamarack needles. Bathed in sunlight, these trees create a brilliant golden hue. There is nothing more magnificent than seeing this second splash of colour reflected in the deep blue tones of the area’s hundreds of lakes and rivers. With kilometres of scenic roads and trails winding through forests and around sparkling waterways, the Golden Encore is the perfect time to plan a late fall getaway.

Photo Credit: Fern Glen Inn Bed & Breakfast 

Why not start with a fall favourite, the Lake of Bays Scenic Drive. The 80 km route hugs the expansive shoreline of Lake of Bays, providing unparalleled views of the water and surrounding forest. You will also pass through the hamlets of Dwight, Baysville and Dorset.

The scenic drive is a Muskoka Signature Experience, and has several excellent opportunities for hiking and cycling. The Oxtongue Rapids Trail is a 2km trail of moderate difficulty that follows the shore of the beautiful Oxtongue River. Suitable for hiking or cycling, the trail rises and falls through the natural growth forest and even offers a picnic area that makes a perfect resting spot.

The Huntsville Mountain Bike Association‘s singletrack trails at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area wind through the forest, travelling up and over roots and rocks with continual grade changes that keep riders engaged and focused. One of the highlights of the trails here is the expansive lookout over the valley and Peninsula Lake. Only accessible by riding, this scenic treasure is worth the effort to get there. Check out more details about the trails on offer here.

Photo Credit: Fern Glen Inn Bed & Breakfast 

Further west, Highway #124 stretches 75 km between Parry Sound on Georgian Bay and the village of Sundridge, which is nestled against the shores of Lake Bernard. Along the way you will pass over Knoefli Falls on the Magnetawan River, travel past beautiful Whitestone Lake and cross the river that winds into Manitouwabing Lake. The road rises and falls with the landscape and features towering rock cuts hewn directly through Canadian Shield granite. While in Sundridge, head over to High Rock Lookout Park for a sweeping view of the golden foliage above Lake Bernard’s crystal waters.

Just outside Parry Sound, the Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre offers more than 30 km of trails suited for hiking and mountain biking. The centre offers a mix of challenging singletrack and wider roads that take advantage of the multiple lakes and natural granite outcroppings the area is known for. Be sure to check their website for day use permit information. Also in Parry Sound, explore the gentle Rotary and Algonquin Regiment Waterfront Fitness Trail or the more challenging North Shore Rugged Hiking Trail.

Photo Credit: Fern Glen Inn Bed & Breakfast 

To the north, the Loring-Restoule region is easy to traverse along Highway #522. On this route you will encounter few cars and wide-open views of golden leaves interspersed with blue lakes and rivers and quaint communities to explore. For a unique fall adventure, head a short drive off the highway on Little River Road to visit the Loring Deer Yard. Up to 10,000 white-tailed deer call the area home in fall and winter. A short walk from the road provides the opportunity to get a good view of these elegant creatures.

Restoule Provincial Park has mountain biking on the Angel’s Point Trail as well as five other hiking trails, including the Fire Tower Trail – a fall favourite with its spectacular view atop the 100 metre high Stormy Bluff.

Photo Credit: Fern Glen Inn Bed & Breakfast 

The easiest way to check out world-famous Algonquin Provincial Park is via the Highway #60 corridor. Rising and falling over forested hills and winding through a network of pristine lakes, the drive is one of the most scenic in the area, but keep in mind it is also the busiest. It is highly recommended to do this drive mid-week. (On weekends the park issues a limited number of day use passes. When at capacity, cars will be turned away.)  Plan ahead by checking their website for more information. If you want to get outside, the park has multiple options for hiking and cycling that are suited for multiple skill levels.

Photo Credit: Fern Glen Inn Bed & Breakfast 

With leaves and needles displaying a brilliant palette of yellow and gold, the roads and trails of the region are stunning in late autumn. Head north this October to see nature’s dramatic second act for yourself.

To plan your stay in the great Canadian wilderness north of Toronto, visit TheGreatCanadianWilderness.com.

TRAVEL SAFELY. Please respect all municipal, provincial and national travel advisories when booking a destination. Please also check with individual businesses prior to arrival to ensure safe protocols are in place.

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