Fall is in the air and it’s time to plan an excursion to enjoy the best leaf viewing hotspots. Plan to get outside when the forests reach their pinnacle of colour, usually around the beginning of October. Not sure where to go to take in nature’s splendor? There is no shortage of nature destinations, scenic drives, hiking trails and wonderful walks in Hamilton Halton Brant.
Experience Carolinian forest in its colourful fall cloak along Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) 27 kilometres of walking trails that include over 20 lookouts, 7 boardwalks and 21 stream crossings. You’ll want to hike both in the Arboretum and along the nature trails.
Although leaf viewing choices here are almost endless, don’t miss the Rock Garden in autumn. This unique spot for uncommon perennials, flowering conifers, Japanese maples, ornamental flowering trees and water features displays remarkable fall colours and fantastic textures in the form of berries, seed heads and the colourful foliage of trees and shrubs.
A different type of colour adorns the garden beds at Laking Garden, where irises pop up on the Lower Terrace and autumn crocus and lily-of-the-field make their way out of the ground, marking the borders of the garden in pink and yellow. Vines, trees and perennials also provide fabulous interest in Hendrie Park.
RBG posts fall colour reports and provides a blooms calendar on its website to help you time your visit.
A visit to Dundas Peak and Hamilton’s network of waterfalls is a quintessential fall nature experience. You can spend the day in Hamilton exploring the sights, like Tews Falls, Spencer Gorge, Sherman Falls, and the Devil’s Punchbowl.
The Spencer Gorge-Webster’s Falls Conservation Area is home to Dundas Peak, touted as one of Hamilton’s best views, and to a wilderness area that is equally beautiful experienced by foot or bicycle. Nearby are two waterfalls – Webster’s Falls, a 21-metre tiered waterfall, and 41-metre tall Tews Falls, which is the largest waterfall in Hamilton. The Spencer Gorge is part of the Dundas Valley, and the Dundas Valley Conservation Area that boasts 40 kilometres of trails for fall hikes. Head to their parking lot off Governor’s Road and bring a picnic to eat at one of the many picnic tables at the Victorian train station before you head off to explore the trails and the stunning show of colour.
These picturesque towns boast quiet, tree-lined streets that merge into driver-pleasing countryside, with cafes, gourmet shops and farms beckoning along the way. Take Snake Road, a winding, tree canopied driver’s (and cyclists’) dream that starts in Burlington and leads you to Waterdown.
Consider a stop at Dyments, a pumpkin patch and farm market in Dundas that sits just past the crest of Sydenham Hill, offering epic views from the top of the Niagara Escarpment. If you need a warm up from the autumn chill, Detour Café offers great brunches and the city’s best coffee, located in the heart of Dundas’s quaint retail strip.
Fall-coloured trees make a walk on the Bruce Trail and Niagara Escarpment extra enjoyable and the conservation areas of Halton and the Credit Valley are perfect spots to access these famous natural wonders.
Experience the Niagara Escarpment’s cultural heritage at Limehouse Conservation Area in the Halton Hills. Seeing the vibrant red, yellows and orange leaves in one of the last old growth forests in Ontario is a “natural”, and here the Bruce Trail and its side trails take visitors through a variety of Escarpment landscapes. Head to its geological heart at an area known as the “Hole in the Wall,” where ladders cut through fissures in the escarpment rock.
Terra Cotta Conservation Area is a trail lover’s paradise with a variety of trails that run through the forests, fields, lakes and ponds of the Niagara Escarpment’s surroundings and let you experience natural settings close to urban and rural developments.
Spanning roughly one hundred square kilometres across and near the Niagara Escarpment, Rattlesnake Point has bold faced cliffs,13 kilometres of trails, and lots of scenic views and lookout points to populate your Instagram account with fall foliage photos. Hike through its gorgeous forest cover or take the Nassagaweya Trail to Crawford Lake Conservation Area.
If you’re looking for an exciting natural adventure on your hunt for fall foliage, head to Eramosa Karst Conservation Area. Filled with underground caves and streams, meadows and forest, it is also home to what is believed to be the largest number of unique karst features in any protected area in the province. Trails, boardwalks and bridges encourage exploration of these unique geological formations that include a natural dolomitic limestone bridge and Ontario’s tenth largest cave. On the outskirts of Stoney Creek, this unique watershed area has four kilometres of trails to explore this autumn.
Canoe, kayak or raft the Grand River and enjoy the fall-painted leaves of the surrounding Carolinian forest. Grand Experiences, Grand River Rafting, and Heritage River Canoe and Kayak Co. are all great local outfitters that will provide your group with the expert guidance and gear you need for a memorable trip.
The 2-kilometre Six Nations of the Grand River Nature Trail in Ohsweken takes hikers on a journey through Carolinian forests and is a great option for young hikers. Interpretative signs along the route help create an appreciation for the largest single block of Carolinian woodland in Canada.