Where to see the best and brightest fall foliage in Canada
Saturday, September 22, 2018, 7:16 AM - Splashes of red, orange and yellow are about to dot tree lines across the country. For many fall is the most photogenic season of the year, with colours typically peaking in September and October. Here's a coast-to-coast breakdown of where to find some of the best fall foliage over the coming weeks.
WHY DO THE LEAVES CHANGE COLOUR IN THE FALL?
"Temperature plays a factor in the coloration of trees, but the most important factor is called the photo period, or the length of daylight," horticulturalist Bob Osbourne of Cornhill, N.B. told The Weather Network.
"The shortening of the number of hours of daylight is the trigger for trees to start shutting down. A cork-like layer forms between the leaf stem and the branch, which will eventually fall off and it also protects the tree from any kind of fungal or bacterial infection. As it shuts down, it begins to stop water and nutrients from coming into the leaf and the chlorophyll dies."
It's this natural phenomenon that enables us to see the various pigments in leaves that have been there all along, but previously concealed by green.
Stress, whether it be from too much or too little water, is a big factor in the colour of the leaves and it is a big contributor to vibrant fall colours will be.
Factors such as drought, extreme heat or cold and air pollution can make the leaves appear dull.
We'd love to see the fall colours that are popping up in your neighbourhood. Upload your images directly to our website.
A PROVINCIAL GUIDE: THE BEST PLACES TO SEE FALL COLOURS IN CANADA
Newfoundland & Labrador
- Gros Morne National Park: Why not head to scenic Woody Point for a million-dollar view of fall's colours. Here, you'll get a pristine view of countless trees as well as a breathtaking view of the Table Lands -- low-calcium rock that looks like a barren dessert in the middle of the forest.
- Signal Hill is an historical site that overlooks the city of St. John's. It offers an incredible view of all the trees in the area, as well as the Atlantic Ocean. Head to Newfoundland between late September and early October -- that's when fall colours are at their peak.
- Corner Brook is the most northern city in Atlantic Canada, located at the mouth of the picturesque Humber River in the Bay of Islands on Newfoundland's west coast. Take a walk on the Corner Brook Stream Trail to visit the Glynmill Inn Pond and Three Bear Mountain.
Prince Edward Island
- The Confederation Trail is a 470-km recreational trail that was developed in the 1990s following the abandonment of all rail lines in the province. Nearly every spot on the trail will provide you with an excellent view of fall colours. Head to PEI between mid-September and late October to see the leaves at their best.
- There's a reason the Cabot Trail is often called one of the most beautiful drives on the planet. The highlands are blanketed in trees that light up in hues of red, orange and yellow during the second week of October. This 298-km path will give you a stunning panoramic of the island. If you'd like to stop and take in the colours in a park setting, swing by Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where "the mountains meet the sky," according to Parks Canada. Here, forested river canyons blanket the area and if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a bald eagle or a moose.
- The Fundy Trail in St. Martins is world-famous for its fall colours. Take in the sights by car, bike, motorcycle or by foot.
- Sugarloaf Provincial Park: Head to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, a 281.1-metre peak in the northern Appalachian Mountains in Campbellton. You can see pretty much everything from up there.
- There's plenty to see in Quebec's Eastern Townships area, which is home to four national parks and numerous mountains. Drive through the many winding paths in the region or stop into the town of Sutton between September 17 and October 16 for the Mount Sutton Fall Festival. You'll be able to enjoy a chairlift ride, go on a guided hike and partake in yoga on the mountain. After that, relax at the foot of the hill with a BBQ and some live music.
- Quebec City's Monte-Sainte-Anne offers stunning panoramic views any time of the year, but that's especially true during the fall season. The area is host to the Great Colour Adventure. Between September 19 and October 12, visitors are welcome to participate in numerous family-friendly activities and take in 145 km of biking and hiking trails.
- Algonquin Provincial Park has 18 interpretive walking trails, all of which are prime spots to take in fall colours. The trails "are a good bet for viewing the fall colours," Algonquin officials write on the park's website. "Trails offering lookouts with wide vistas are especially popular around the Sugar Maple peak and the later peak of poplar and birch species." Algonquin officials recommend visiting the park between mid-September and early October to see the best fall colours.
- Burlington's Mount Nemo offers a spectacular panoramic view of southern Ontario. The peak is surrounded in forest cover and on a clear day, you can get a clear view of Toronto's CN Tower, some 60 kilometres away.
- Whiteshell Provincial Park is a 2,729 km2 park in central Manitoba. There's plenty of places to take in fall colours in this giant forest. Park officials recommend hopping on one of the park's many roads and taking in the sights from there. Head to the park during the month of October to get the best views.
- Head to Prince Albert National Park in October for stunning fall colours. Park interpreter Bradly Muir tells National Geographic one of his favourites spots to see the foliage is the Spruce River Highlands Trail. "It's one of the only places where you can get above the trees to see the crowns of the hills and surrounding panoramas, which play best in the fall," he tells the publication. "Golden aspen leaves on the crowns, orange and gold tamaracks in the lowlands—it really reflects one of the core messages of the park, which is the transition from south to north."
- The Qu'Appelle Drive in Lumsden may change your assumptions about Saskatchewan. Located 30 minutes northwest of Regina, you'll be greeted with an amazing display of colours. A few minutes into the drive and it becomes apparent there's a lot more to Saskatchewan than just wheat fields and flat land.
- Elk Island National Park is home to countless hiking trails that will provide a front-row seat to fall colours. Parks Canada recommends the 3.5-kilometre Beaver Pond hike or the 2.5-kilometre Amish Wuche trail.
- Stanley Park is one of the best places to see fall colours in Vancouver. Whether you're at Prospect Point or over the narrows to Beaver Lake, you're all but guaranteed a great view. Fall colours peak a little later in B.C. The best time to see them is in October and November.
- Tofino is gorgeous, and it really comes to life during the fall. Here, you can take it all in on a seaplane ride, or watch the colours blend together during a 292-kilometre drive.
- Tombstone Territorial Park, Yukon sees the peak of fall colour a bit earlier in the season than their southern cousins, but the combination of the starkly beautiful fall landscape against the autumn aurora can't be beat as a stop along the Dempster Highway.
- The Barrenlands in the Northwest Territories contradict their name in August and September, when the tundra lights up with blazing fall foliage, as herds of caribou move south and the aurora flares overhead.