Fall is the perfect time to pedal in Ontario. Back-to-school season means less traffic on the roads, parks and attractions are typically quieter, and cooler temperatures keep climbs from becoming sweaty slogs. Plus, if you’ve been riding all summer, you’re in top cycling shape for that longer bucket-list tour. And you won’t run out of fuel—fall is harvest season, providing riders with endless fresh produce and farm-to-table delicacies.
But there is one absolutely indisputable reason fall is the best season for biking: Leaf peeping.
Best Time for Fall Colours in Ontario
From mid-September to late October, the shorter days and crisp nights of autumn in Ontario trigger one of the most spectacular transformations anywhere on Earth. First to change are the province’s beautiful hardwood forests—warm amber, fiery orange and brilliant crimson burnish each leaf until the entire canopy is aflame with the colours of fall.
In Northern Ontario, the golden tamarack forests are next—these unique members of the pine family are the only Canadian conifers that shed their needles each year.
Where are the Best Fall Colours in Ontario?
This list takes the guesswork out of where to experience the most vivid fall colours, but you may still need a bit of help timing your tour to coincide with peak leaf change. Fortunately, Ontario Parks’ Fall Colour Report offers weekly updates on how the leaves are changing across the province.
The report provides a map of current fall foliage conditions at 62 parks and surrounding areas, with key viewing criteria like dominant colour, percentage of leaf change and leaf fall.
BEST GUIDED FALL BIKE TOURS & EVENTS
Participating in a guided fall bike ride or special event is a fun, social way to enjoy great fall touring while learning about a new area and meeting new people with a shared interest. All the logistics have been done for you – just book and go.
ALVAR FALL BIKE TOUR
Manitoulin Island’s all-inclusive Alvar Cycle Tour explores nearly 300 km of country roads and island attractions on a five-day tour with four nights at lakeside lodges and cottages. Two tours in early- and mid-September coincide with Manitoulin’s changing leaves and early autumn harvests.
Hosted each September by the Thunder Bay Cycling Club, the Thunder Grinder event offers several route options exploring all of Thunder Bay’s best gravel on the outskirts of the city. You can choose to ride the routes on your own time, but the real fun is to join in the race day fun and get to know like-minded cyclists in the area. Best of all, it all takes place against a backdrop of brilliant autumn foliage.
WALDEN MOUNTAIN BIKE CLUB
SAULT STE. MARIE MOUNTAIN BIKE TOURS
Red Pine Tours offers a number of cycling tours including gravel, urban and bikepacking—however, if you really want to take advantage of the fall colours in Algoma, coordinate with them on one of their mountain bike tours. You’ll explore the impeccably maintained singletrack winding through the colourful forest of Hiawatha Highlands.
PEDAL YOUR ARTS
Local adventure guide Yours Outdoors offers a variety of guided bike tours through peak leaf season, including the Pedal Your Arts day trip series. Meet local artists and watch as they demonstrate their craft on the easy 10- to 12-km Tour du Village Tour, moderate 35-km Gears for Guilford Tour or the challenging 60-km Rolling Hills of Harburn Tour.
6-DAY FALL COLOUR BIKE RIDE
See the best of beautiful Bruce County on a guided and fully supported six-day cycling tour along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay with Humdinger Bicycle Tours. This late-September tour visits beaches, lighthouses and villages, wrapping up on the Bruce Peninsula beneath the white cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment.
BRUCE PENINSULA LIGHTHOUSE GRAVEL GRAN FONDO
Experience the peninsula’s finest gravel back roads and secret trails on the one-day Bruce Peninsula Gravel Gran Fondo, held early-October annually. Route options from 30 kms to 15 kms skirt the shoreline between Lion’s Head and Cabot Head lighthouses, boasting panoramic lake vistas and canopy-draped roads painted with fall colours.
HASTINGS HIGHLANDS HILLY HUNDRED
Avid cyclists who prefer punishment to pampering will want to sign up for the Hastings Highlands Hilly Hundred, billed as Ontario’s Toughest Century Ride. Whether you select the 177-km Hilly Full Century Road Course or the 108-km Hilly Canadian Century Course, you’ll face nearly 1,000 metres of elevation gain while spinning through the colourful hardwood forests, small lakes, steep hills and peaceful river valleys around Bancroft.
New in 2022 is the 136-km Hilly Gravel Course, stringing together gravel side roads and ATV trails in the area. The event is held in early-October annually.
Best self-guided routes
There's no shortage of cycling routes, pathways and trails in Ontario. You'll find something that suits every skill level and desired trip length. The hardest part is choosing which to do this fall.
Challenge yourself on the Best Western Nor’Wester road cycling route and explore the countryside west of Thunder Bay. Choose between the Long 70-km and Short 25-km loops. Make pit stops at Thunder Oak Cheese Farm, A.J’s Trading Post, and Rose Valley Lodge and Restaurant en route. Don’t have a bike or don’t want to bring your own? Rent form Rollin’ Thunder, Fresh Air or Petrie’s Cycle & Sports.
Looking for a shorter ride to get a taste of autumn near Kenora? The Rabbit Lake Trail system runs along the shoreline of beautiful Rabbit Lake and through bush. You can take it easy and stop at multiple rest stations to take in the fall colours and plentiful wildlife. While visiting, eat at the Log Cabin Tavern, stay at the Kenora Bed ‘N’ Bale, and see a community-run production at the TryLight Theatre Co.
Head west from the Soo and visit Gros Cap, the location of a rocky beach and bluffs on Lake Superior. You can either do this as an out-and-back or loop ride. The bluffs are the perfect spot to stop for a break and stare out over the fall chop on the lake. Stock up on local produce, preserves and more at Neal’s Country Farm & Market, stop for a bite to eat at Boots & Saddles Roadhouse, and stay at Glenview Cottages & Campground.
The Callander-Powassan Cycling Circle will allow you to admire classic fall countryside views for 58 km. You’ll travel Lake Nipissing’s south shore, pass through the communities of Powassan and Astorville, and cruise quiet back roads. En route, visit the Nipissing Museum and have a bite at Echoes Restaurant before heading back to your cozy accommodations at Nanmark’s Lighthouse Resort.
Just east of Sault Ste. Marie, St. Joseph Island is renowned for its maple syrup producers, which should tell you something about the scarlet sugar maple canopies that adorn the island in the fall. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail makes a 70-km circuit of the island, with plenty of opportunities to get off your bike and savour the sights and tastes of St. Joseph’s friendly communities. Visit St. Joseph Island Museum, stay at the Stonefield House B&B, and eat at Tilt’n Hilton Steakhouse.
Summer crowds vacate Manitoulin Island just after Labour Day, but the ferry from Tobermory runs until mid-October, making autumn a peaceful time to enjoy the island’s diverse cycling routes and lovely fall foliage. Fill out your adventure with a stay at On The Bay Bed & Breakfast, a visit to the Old Mill Heritage Centre, and a meal at Mindemoya Grill & Chill.
The escarpment makes for an incredibly scenic backdrop for any ride in this area. Road riders should try the 85-km Island View ride heading north out of Owen Sound or a shorter route with a big climb on the Blue Mountain Loop. Want to stick to an off-road ride? The Georgian Trail is tree-lined and sure to be stunning this time of the year.
The views and the hills are equally breathtaking in the Haliburton Highlands, where Technicolor forests cradle deep-blue lakes. A smattering of pretty villages are linked by meandering roads that lend themselves to looping day trips or even a weekend adventure.
Local cycling group Cycle Haliburton produces a map of recommended routes, as well as resources for visiting cyclists. There are lots of fall colour bike rides to explore, including a 109-km looped route passing through Tory Hill and Kinmount; an easier 39-km loop following in part Kashagawigamog (say that fast!) Lake Road; and the 33-km County Rail Trail to Kinmount, connecting to the longer Victoria Rail Trail.
The Muskoka region offers an intoxicating combination of twisty back roads and fiery red maples, highlighting panoramic views of oranges and yellows. Add a bluebird sky and the emerald spires of Muskoka’s hallmark pines, and you have a pedalling paradise. Check the region’s detailed fall colour report for the best places and times to visit, and then choose from a dozen popular cycling routes.
Forks of the Credit Road is famed for fall colours and draws a huge crowd. With the reduced speed limit of 30 km and speed bumps installed, sharing the road with vehicles is easier. Experienced cyclists can try the 30-km Credit River Ride loop, just off the Greenbelt Route, while trail riders can enjoy the area along the Caledon Trailway, a 37-km path connecting park lands and villages.
Ride the rail trails
For an intimate view of the changing leaves, Ontario’s widespread network of former railways converted to recreational trails are perfect for casual bike riders or families. Even avid riders will appreciate not having to jockey with vehicular leaf-peepers in bustling hot spots like Algonquin Park.
Following along the southern shore of Georgian Bay, cyclists on the 35-km Georgian Trail enjoy lake views on one side and the jewel-toned cliffs of the escarpment on the other. Autumn also brings brilliant red apples—and tasty apple-infused treats—to the orchards and country markets straddling the trail between the towns of Meaford, Thornbury and Collingwood.
SAULT STE. MARIE
Not a rail trail, but deserving of a mention here, is Sault Ste. Marie’s Hub Trail, which takes cyclists on a stunning fall colour tour without leaving the city. This scenic 23-km circuit links the city’s waterfront, downtown and historic districts with its greenbelts and forest parks. A leafy oasis in the northwest corner of the Soo, Fort Creek Conservation Area offers some of the finest viewing.
There's a reason thousands of people flock to Algonquin Provincial Park in autumn each year. The red and sugar maples shine brightest from mid-September to early-October, followed by the “golden encore” of aspens, birch and beech, with the tamaracks wrapping up the display in mid- to late-October. Escape the traffic jams on Highway 60 and witness the rolling hills of colour from your saddle on the park’s Old Railway Bike Trail, which runs 16 km from Rock Lake Campground to near Cache Lake.
Best fall mountain bike rides
Carving through the trees on a mountain bike is an exhilarating, up-close way to experience the fall colours.
Minutes from downtown Sudbury, fantastic trail networks in Kivi Park, Lake Laurentian Conservation Area and the Walden Trails weave through a magnetic landscape of Precambrian shield outcrops, sparkling lakes and hardwood forest. The bare-rock riding here is addictive, so be sure to take a break at numerous trailside panoramas.
SAULT STE. MARIE
Cross-country riders will find over 50 km of fast and flowy singletrack just north of Sault Ste. Marie at the Hiawatha Bike Trails and Stokely Creek and Algoma Highlands Conservancy. Algoma’s rugged topography and extensive maple forests create a breathtaking autumn backdrop, offering something for riders of every level with trails ranging from easy to technical. In the Soo, Vélorution rents top-of-the-line bikes to get you trail ready.
Head to sprawling Hersey Lake Conservation Area just north of Timmins and make the most of the 55 km of trails available to cyclists. Visit scenic lookouts at Grouse Point, Jack Pine Lake and Rainbow Lake to take in the best views of the fall colours. You can rent mountain bikes from Timmins Adventure Tours.
Bike & Stay
To pack in as much activity as possible on your getaway, book a stay at incredible accommodations with bike trails right onsite. There's nothing quite like camping in fall, snuggled up in your sleeping bag at night and enjoying quiet morning rides with mist rising up from the trees.
Fall is the best time to explore Beausoleil Island, where no vehicles are allowed. Accessible by Parks Canada’s DayTripper boat from Honey Harbour, you can rent a bike at the island’s visitor centre to explore over 20 km of pleasant trails through mature maple-beech forest, or more challenging riding to windswept pines, lake vistas and granite shores. Secluded campsites and waterfront cabins allow cyclists to extend their park visit overnight.
You can stay and play at Minaki Yurt Adventures, located 45 minutes west of Kenora. Spend cool fall evenings in a cozy yurt and crisp days mountain biking on 20 km of maintained trails that wind through the colourful boreal forest. They even have a wood-fired pizza oven which you can use for some delicious post-bike meals.
Looking for a weekend long ride? Then this 135-km, two-day ride itinerary that starts in Caledonia, follows the Grand River to Lake Erie and loops back after an overnight in Dunnville (such as at the Dunnville Inn Bed & Breakfast) is the perfect fall bike trip. Get a preview with cute local guides. For some fall day rides in the area use the interactive cycling map.
For a late season camp-out and easy ride, enjoy the parkway through Long Sault islands, alongside the St Lawrence River, a part of the Waterfront Trail. Close to Quebec, enjoy bilingual hospitality in the area with a longer 100-km road ride on the Long Sault Loop. Check out the many Parks of the St Lawrence campgrounds to find the perfect place to stay.
GRAB YOUR BIKE AND GO
When the leaves begin to change, grab your bike and get rolling on these colourful fall bike rides. Autumn is one of the best seasons to enjoy mountain bike trails and cycling on roadways, trails and bike paths.