This Ontario Region Is Not to Be Missed This Fall
Explore the spectacular scenery in Kawarthas Northumberland by car, boat, bike or on foot
An easy hour-and-a-half to two-hour drive from Toronto, this scenic part of the province offers endless outdoor activities, arts and heritage, roadside attractions and gastronomic delights. Plus, Kawarthas Northumberland is one of the best places to see fall foliage in Ontario, with seven provincial parks in the region. Here are eight reasons why you should take a getaway here this fall.
Cruise along fantastic fall drives
If you’re a leaf lover, Kawarthas Northumberland is the place to be. Driving along the highways and back roads, you’ll be treated to brilliant orange, yellow and red colours rippling across farmlands, hilltops and the Canadian Shield.
The Great Fall Drive immerses you in fall foliage amongst the rolling hills of Northumberland County, as well as delicious eats and specialty shopping. You can also turn over a new leaf with one of six fall driving tours through Peterborough and the Kawarthas.
Did you know? Not only is Kawartha Lakes home to some great scenic drives, it also has the Arts & Heritage Trail, a driving route full of art galleries, artisan studios and craft shops, plus the Kawartha Settlers’ Village and Boyd Heritage Museum.
Discover a wealth of Indigenous rock carvings
Nestled in a protected forest is Petroglyphs Provincial Park, Canada’s largest-known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings. Explore the cultural centre, which outlines the rich history and stories associated with the site, then marvel at the 900 depictions of animals, objects, mythical creatures and humans carved into the white marble rock. There’s also a beautiful forested trail that’s worth walking.
Did you know? Petroglyphs Provincial Park is next to a rare meromictic lake, whose layers of water do not mix.
See an engineering marvel steeped in history
No visit to Kawarthas Northumberland is complete without a road trip to the Trent-Severn Waterway, a National Historic Site of Canada. Built mostly in the 1800s, the waterway is now owned and operated by Parks Canada, and offers boating access along a scenic 386-kilometre route of interconnected rivers, lakes, locks and canals.
There are countless must-see spots to enjoy by car, bike, or boat. For an unforgettable selfie, stop at the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge in Ferris Provincial Park; the backdrop of fall foliage from this 91-metre-long bridge, which hovers nine metres above the gorge, is spectacular. Liftlock and the Riverboat Cruises is your destination for a guided cruise through the epic Peterborough Lift Lock, the highest hydraulic lift lock in the world.
Did you know? The charming town of Bobcaygeon is home to the first lock constructed on the waterway, dating to more than 160 years ago.
Take the Butter Tart Tour
Did you know that Kawarthas Northumberland is home to the biggest culinary tour of its kind in Ontario? Award-winning butter tarts await you at over 50 destinations, including stellar local bakeries, charming cafes and elegant restaurants, as well as welcoming resorts and inns.
Enjoy a tart-to-tart experience with self-guided Butter Tart Tour itineraries. Or taste Ontario’s best traditional tarts, then experience creative fusion flavours with the Arts ’n Tarts program, a series of collaborations between bakers and local artists.
Did you know? The annual Butter Tart Tour Taste-Off is Sunday, September 23 during the award-winning Cultivate festival of food and drink in Port Hope.
Let loose at a fall fair
Every fall, the towns throughout Kawarthas Northumberland celebrate the autumn harvest with some of the best and longest-running fall fairs in Ontario. This year, the Bobcaygeon Fall Fair celebrates 160 years and the Norwood Fall Fair celebrates 150 years.
Did you know? The Port Hope Fall Fair, celebrating 187 years, incorporates great educational experiences about agriculture.
Paddle through quiet lakes
A road trip is an enjoyable way to explore the region, but why not take in the fall colours from a kayak or canoe? Dip your paddle into calm waters and stop over in quaint villages and culturally rich towns scattered along the waterways. The best part? The beautiful Trent-Severn Waterway quiets down in the fall months, gifting you with absolute tranquility.
For inspiration (and tips on rentals and guides) take a look at 10 of the signature paddling routes in Peterborough and the Kawarthas or get some tips on routes in Northumberland County and the Kawartha Lakes.
Did you know? The second-highest lock along the waterway is in Kirkfield. You can watch it in action from a shaded picnic area on shore.
Immerse yourself in art on a studio tour
Kawarthas Northumberland has some of Ontario’s longest-running studio tours. Every September, the region’s talented artists invite the public to explore their studios (and maybe pick up a piece to take home). Get the complete list of tours here.
Did you know? Some studio tours have evening events, too, such as dinners and performances by local singer-songwriters.
Set off on your choice of bike trails and road routes
From picturesque country roads to forest and rail trails, Kawarthas Northumberland has a big backyard to explore on two wheels. Each area has dedicated cycling groups that have cultivated some of the most popular routes in Ontario. Whether your riding preference is leisurely or more intense, you’ll enjoy quiet countryside, lakes and rivers, plus breweries, cafés and lakeside communities. Discover your own favourite fall cycling routes here.
Did you know? The spectacular views from Doube’s Trestle Bridge are a highlight along the scenic Kawartha Trans-Canada Trail.
Start planning your road trip
If you’re ready to take the scenic route, go to fallroutes.ca for more ideas and inspiration.
Image credit: Justen Soule and Chris Oliver