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Just in Time for Leaf Peeping in Canada

Vancouver Nelson Mouellic

With more than 347 million hectares of forest, Canada is home to nine percent of the world’s forests – a sprawling expanse that transforms the country into a parade of red, yellow and orange during the fall months. So when it comes time to leaf-peeping, Canada tops the list.

Just in Time for Leaf Peeping in Canada

So why do leaves change colour in fall? Think back to high-school science: Leaves are green in the spring and summer because they’re making chlorophyll, which is required for photosynthesis. As summer shifts into fall, the days get shorter and there’s less sunlight. On cue, leaves stop making chlorophyll, the green colour fades, and their red, orange and yellow pigments become visible.

Timing travel: When chasing fall colours in Canada, keep in mind that leaf colour peaks earlier the farther north you go. Many regional websites and television stations across Canada offer weekly fall foliage reports, although reporting doesn’t start until the season is underway. In the meantime, plan your fall foray with this general guide to the best leaf-peeping from coast to coast:

British Columbia : Fall’s brilliant paintbox is a satisfying consolation prize to the end of summer. In fact, autumn is one of the best seasons to visit the province.

– In Campbell River, Strathcona Park – also known as Paradise Meadows – is one of the best spots in the region to see the changing hues of the forest. Cruise through the colours along Highway 28, which runs through the heart of the park and is considered one of the most scenic drives on the island, particularly when the trees change colours as the first dusting of snow lands on the mountains.

– Outside Vancouver’s downtown core, Queen Elizabeth Park provides a double dose of fall foliage. Wander the paths to see the changing leaves, then head to Seasons in the Park, a prime spot for lunch with a dazzling view. Here, you’ll see the city sprawled below in all her scarlet, gold, and amber

– From Vancouver, drive to the Okanagan Valley along Highway 3, through Manning Provincial Park; near Manning Park Resort, head up the Cascades Lookout for a fiery view of the sub-alpine larches. If you’re visiting in October, stay on for Manning Park’s annual Dark Sky Astronomy Weekends.

– In the Kootenay Rockies, head straight for Kootenay Lake. Brilliant autumn colours decorate the mountain towns of Nelson and Kaslo from mid-September through early November, while alpine peaks attract photographers capturing the spectacular sights.

Manitoba: Fall around Winnipeg is spectacularly short. However, before the leaves change and drop, locals and visitors are treated to gorgeous fall foliage whose auburn, yellow and red colours are nothing short of magical.

– Head straight to Assiniboine Park, where 1,110 acres houses paths lined with transforming trees. There’s also The English Garden, whose abundance of flora is notably enhanced in the fall.

– In Kildonan Park, the Witch’s Hut boasts a fairytale façade surrounded by elm and ash trees whose branches fill with colours… before abruptly shedding and turning into broom holders.

– Alternatively, wander the Bois-des-Esprits riverbank, where falling leaves intermingle with white-tailed deer and a three-metre-high carved spirit tree that’s said to guard the forest.

– For a bird’s-eye view of autumn hues, climb six storeys up The Forks’ observation tower, where uninterrupted views of the colourful landscape await.

Quebec: Fall brings plenty of diversions for visitors to the province.

– In the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region, Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay is an outdoor paradise whose flaming fall colours are renowned. Here, visitors can camp in the wilderness, tour the water in a sea kayak or zodiac, watch belugas from the shore, hike to the statue of Notre-Dame-du-Saguenay, or attempt the via ferrata cables – all while soaking in the unforgettable spectacle of leaves blazing red, gold and orange.

– In the 1920s ghost village of Val Jalbert, board a cable car and ride to the top of Ouiatchouan Falls – higher than Niagara Falls, these dramatic waterfalls offer breathtaking views of the autumn colours.

– In Orford, La Flambée des Couleurs celebrates the season with several mountain resorts inviting visitors to view local peaks clad in autumn garb. There’s plenty to see and do, including live music, food trucks and a colourful ascent as a chairlift whisks you to the peak.

– In the Eastern Townships, the wine route between Brome and Missisquoi boasts 20 vineyards, four bike tours and plenty of vino to sip while you admire the changing leaves in the vineyards.

New Brunswick: Some of the very best leaf-peeping opportunities in Canada can be found here, with bursts of colour at every turn.

– Climb the highest peak in the Maritimes at Mount Carleton Provincial Park and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of more than 10 million trees, which paint a fiery tableau of red, orange and yellow.

– With the Fundy Trail Parkway completed in fall 2021, visitors can fully appreciate the stunning park from end to end – a particularly memorable sight when the trees are draped in dazzling foliage. Set against the shimmering blues of the Bay of Fundy, the colours are even more striking.

– The Miscou Island peat bogs comprise eight bogs covering 45 percent of the island – and all of them turn a flaming red in fall. Visitors can
follow the interpretive boardwalks and snap selfies surrounded by bright backdrops provided by the bogs’ plants.

Ontario: Whether hiking majestic cliffs, exploring a provincial park or cruising to a robust collection of islands, Ontario’s fall foliage is best seen camera in hand.

– Experience the seasonal spectacle at Fall Rhapsody in Ottawa, which takes place over three weekends each October and showcases the colours in Gatineau Park and Ottawa’s Greenbelt.

– From Kingston, Rockport or Gananoque in Eastern Ontario, cruise to the 1000 Islands, a scenic archipelago where fall colours light up the banks of the St. Lawrence River and island shores. See the sight from a bird’s eye view by climbing the 1000 Islands Tower, and see the islands’ fall glory sprawled 400 feet below.

– Book yourself on an Ottawa Biplane Adventure, which treats guests to the seasonal sights from an open cockpit biplane from the 1930s for a unique view of the colours.

– In Algoma Country, step aboard the Algoma Central Railway’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train, where you’ll see glorious fall colours passing the picture windows. The one-day wilderness excursion travels 114 miles north of Sault. Ste. Marie, over towering trestles, alongside pristine northern lakes and rivers, and through the granite rock formations and forests of the Canadian Shield.

Nova Scotia: Fall here is truly spectacular, with fiery colours lighting up parks and green spaces across the province.

– The Cabot Trail is particularly pretty in fall, with foliage laid out like a carpet on the highlands; whether biking, walking or driving, save time to stop at the many designated lookouts to see stunning coastal views set against the fall colours. At the Skyline Trail, book a guided sunset walk and you’ll see a spectacular show as the sun sinks over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

– In Annapolis Valley, you’ll find brilliant canopies in the Minas Basin and Annapolis Basin – Blomidon Look-off Provincial Park and Luckett Vineyards are top spots.

– In Kejimkujik National Park, paddle along the lakes and rivers, a great vantage point to snap photos of the fall trees, or hike along the leafy trails.

National parks: For front-row seats to Canada’s seasonal tree transformation, head to a national park.

– In Alberta, Jasper National Park’s vast wilderness is dotted with glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, mountains and deep-cut canyons where visitors can hike, paddle and soak in hot springs surrounded by the gorgeous hues of fall.

– In Manitoba, Riding Mountain National Park invites guests to spend lazy nights under canvas and endless days exploring the sparkling waters and sandy beaches of Clear Lake. Share a picnic with friends and family on the deck of your oTENTik as you soak in the changing colours, then watch the sky shimmer with northern lights.

– At Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site in Ontario, explore lumber towns, farm villages and the spectacular pre-Cambrian landscape of the Canadian Shield – the shorelines blaze with colour in the fall.

– In Quebec, Forillon National Park offers a wide range of experiences by the sea, along cliffs and in the forest. Guests can snorkel among
underwater plants and wildlife, watch seals play, see the spouts of whales and watch the leaves shimmer in all their splendour.

– Kouchibouguac National Park sits off the Acadian Coast in New Brunswick, where lush mixed-wood forests lead to colourful salt marshes and warm ocean beaches. In fall, the changing hues in this Dark Sky Preserve are backdropped by millions of stars.


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