There are so many amazing places to see fall foliage near Ottawa. If you are looking for things to do in Ottawa and fall activities in Ottawa, read my post here. That post is filled with fun things to do in Ottawa like enjoying haunting season, enjoying Major’s Hill Park and Byward Market, the best fall colour experience and colours along the Rideau Canal. This post will give you some ideas of day trips (or overnight trips) to see fall foliage this year.
Fall is my favourite time of year, even though it’s a whirlwind of trying to cram as much in as possible before the cold hits and the colourful leaves are gone. The absolute best tool to see how the colours are doing is the Ottawa Fall Colour Report by doing a Google search for “Place + Fall Foliage Map”. Day trips from Ottawa include Ontario Parks, upstate New York and Quebec.
Gatineau Park Fall Colours
Fall Rapsody is Ottawa’s annual Fall Festival with locations in Ottawa and Gatineau. My favourite fall hikes are: Pink Lake, King Mountain, Meech Lake, Carbide Wilson Ruins and the Champlain Lookout. It gets incredibly busy as people flock to the park, so hikes further from Ottawa are ideal for those looking for smaller crowds. Check out Philippe Lake, Meech Creek Valley and Luskville Falls for less busy hikes. For those without access to a car, you can take the Fall Rapsody Bus Shuttle from downtown to the park. Drones are not permitted in the park but you can book a helicopter tour or the biplane adventure for birds eye views of the vibrant fall colours in Ottawa/Gatineau (see below).
Fall Hikes with Fantastic Lookouts
There are so many hikes within a few hours from Ottawa/Gatineau that are sure to impress with their lookouts. The Eagle’s Nest Lookout and Manitoulin Mountain Trail is a 1.5 hour drive from Ottawa and located in Calabogie. The lookout is a quick 20 minute easy walk from the trailhead and popular year round. Rock Dunder lies within the UNESCO Thousand Islands Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve and is about 1.5 hours from Ottawa. There is an admission fee for the 5 km loop. If you want a lookout that doesn’t feel like you’re still in Ontario, head to the Barron Canyon Trail in Algonquin Park (just over 2 hours from Ottawa). It’s a 1.5 km loop with a view of the 100 m deep canyon.
Chairlifts to see Fall Foliage
Another fantastic way to see the vibrant fall colours from above is to take a chair lift. The Calabogie Chairlift (1.5 hr from Ottawa), Mont Ste-Marie Chairlift (1 hr from Ottawa) or the Mont Tremblant Chairlift (2 hr from Ottawa) are all an easy day trip from Ottawa.
Scenic Drives during Fall
While the destination may be what you have in mind, the drive could be a trip in and of itself! Last year we drove through Quebec on our way to Kiamika (for the double covered bridges) and Mont Tremblant and the drive was absolutely beautiful. Some beautifully scenic drives include: Highway 309 to Kiamika, Quebec; Highway 323 to Mont-Tremblant, Quebec; Highway 105 to Chelsea, Quebec; Highway 7 to Algonquin Park, Ontario; or Thousand Islands Parkway, Ontario. Stop on the side of the road to see some horses, or fall foliage in the distance.
Mont Tremblant Fall Foliage
If you’re looking for a scenic drive AND a beautiful destination, head to Mont Tremblant Village. You can get a chairlift ticket for some spectacular views of the hill or do the short hike on one of the many trails up the ski hill.
Adirondacks Fall Foliage Scenic Drive and Hikes
The Adirondack Mountains are about 5,000 square miles, almost twice the size of Algonquin Park with a plethora of hikes through the mountains. The drive from Ontario to the Adirondacks is incredibly scenic and you’ll find yourself stopping constantly. There are 46 peaks in the Adirondacks, which can seem a bit daunting to a first time visitor. For a difficult 3 hour hike, try the Pillsbury Mountain. For easier hikes, try the Roaring Brook Falls, Cobble Hill Lookout or Goodnow Mountain (all about 3 hr from Ottawa).
Lake Placid Fall Views
Lake Placid is a 3 hour drive from Ottawa which makes it a long day trip or a nice weekend getaway. The centre of Lake Placid is Mirror Lake which is surrounded by trees that make for absolutely fantastic fall foliage photos. This little American city is also home to the Trapp Family Lodge (which is a fun place to stay, especially if you’ve ever heard of the Sound of Music film).
Ithaca, NY Fall Foliage
Ithaca, New York is home to Cornell University and is surrounded by amazing waterfalls (more than 100 within 10 miles of downtown) in the Finger Lakes region. The most impressive is the Taughannock Falls which is the central feature of the Taughannock Falls State Park. Check out all the waterfalls near Ithaca here.