Fall In Love with Northern Ontario

Northern Ontario’s unspoiled forests, lakes, and rivers appeal to travelers searching for a mix of adventure and relaxation
By Brian Coughlin
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Autumn far outranks the other seasons as Northern Ontario's most spectacular time of year. The leaves change color, painting the landscape orange, yellow, and red, and the air becomes cool and crisp. Whether you have a week or a day, an array of attractions pepper this vast area, appealing to all types of travelers. It can't all be done in one trip, though.

There's the far North, the James Bay Frontier, the largest travel region in the province, with spectacular fishing camps and wilderness lodges accessible only by floatplane, and one of North America's last remaining "flag stop" trains, the Polar Bear Express, cuts a swath through the pristine and spectacular canyons before coming to rest in Moosonee.

Ontario's Near North covers over 24,000 square miles. It includes Temagami (Ojibway for deep water by the shore), where over 1,200 islands dot the shoreline, making this water playground ideal for fishing, boating, and canoeing. The hub of Ontario's Near North, the city North Bay is a sporting Mecca in itself and offers access to connecting areas via the Voyageur Route.

The last bastion of Ontario's North, and Canada's most populous area, is simply referred to as "up north" or "cottage country" by most inhabitants of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Within a few hours drive of most major centers, this area offers a relaxing spot to spend a week's vacation, or just a day's drive through some of Ontario's most spectacular fall foliage.

Each of these areas offers more than most could cover in a short time. The most accessible areas from the GTA include the Haliburton Highlands, Georgian Triangle, Muskoka, and Ontario's crown jewel, Algonquin Park.

The Georgian Triangle
A ninety-minute drive northwest of Toronto takes you to the Georgian Triangle. Once there, sit on the southern shores of Georgian Bay in the shadow of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve stretching 450 miles from Lake Ontario to the Bruce Peninsula. No better vantage point takes in the red, yellow, and golden hues of the sumacs, oaks, and aspens that cover the escarpment.

One of many options along the Bruce Trail (www.brucetrail.org), Canada's longest trail, includes the Loree Forest Loop, about a four-and-a-half mile hike. It offers spectacular vistas of Georgian Bay and an abundance of native flora and fauna. If you prefer tight spaces and cooler environs, venture into the Scenic Caves (www.sceniccaves.com), a self-guided tour inside Blue Mountain.

The Town of The Blue Mountains (www.thebluemountains.ca) is home to hamlets and quaint villages. Among them, the Village at Blue is the resort located at the foot of Blue Mountain. The top of the mountain can be accessed via the gondola that runs year round. In the fall, hikers enjoy the views at the top and mountain bikers navigate the route below. The village itself offers shopping, dining, and Plunge—a popular year round water park for kids.

The shores of Georgian Bay also feature Wasaga Beach, the world's longest freshwater beach. A summer haven for beachgoers, Wasaga transitions into a destination for fall travelers looking to take-in the spectacular colors covering nearby Blue Mountain.

Take a short trip within the Georgian Triangle to the quaint village of Creemore Short, located in the rolling hills of Clearview Township. Popular fall attractions include the Purple Hills Fall Color Studio Tour, a sampling of local artists and their studios, and a trip to the Creemore Springs Brewery for a sampling of their urBock, a seasonal release.

How to Get There:
Several major highways lead into the Georgian Triangle from other Southern Ontario towns and cities. Less than two hours northwest of

Published: 12 Oct 2007 | Last Updated: 23 Aug 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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