The fall colours in Ontario and Quebec are brilliant come October. Peak season is typically around the middle of October, and if there’s a nice day and a chance to get out and enjoy the fall colours in Ottawa then you definitely want to take advantage.
This year I’ve visited some fall favourites that I have visited before, and also had the chance to go to a few new places!
It’s very easy to get swept in to the excitement of seeing Gatineau Park during Fall Rhapsody. The Gatineau Park is beautiful (and included at the end of the post) but it’s also insanely busy during Fall Rhapsody to the point where it is sometimes not possible to reach the park. That’s why this post is mostly about all of the other amazing places that you can go to see the Ottawa fall colours.
- The Top Things to do in Ottawa in Fall
- Epic Ottawa Adventures for Every Season
- The Best of Manotick
- The Ultimate Gatineau Park Trail Guide
Ottawa Fall Colours
Ottawa Fall Colours in the City
Mer Bleue Conservation Area
Part of Ottawa’s Greenbelt, Mer Bleue is a unique ecosystem in the South end of the city. Walk the board walk through the regions only bog and you will see fall colours top to bottom. What makes Mer Bleue unique is that there are plants and bushes low to the ground the change colours too!
Getting there: driving only. View on Google Maps.
Cost: free parking and free access
The Dominion Arboretum + Fletcher Wildlife Garden
The Dominion Arboretum is one of those places that makes you feel like you’ve entirely left the city even though it’s right in the middle. Walk the 3km + loop along the Canal and up through the Arboretum and you will be immersed in the trees and up above them with a spectacular view of the park. Pop in to Fletcher Wildlife gardens right next door to see more variety of plants, birds, frogs, and nature. Pro tip: I like to take the O-train to Carleton, walk through the Arboretum, and then catch the train at Carling on the other side to get back home.
Getting there: take the train (Line 2) to Carleton or Carling Station. View on Google Maps.
Cost: parking (dependent on time of day) fees may apply if driving. Free access.
Ottawa’s downtown is overflowing with fall colours come October. Make your way to Major’s Hill Park for stunning views of Parliament and then walk down along the Ottawa River Pathway or the Rideau Canal (or all of the above). Whatever route you choose, you are guaranteed to find some spectacular fall colours set against Ottawa’s architecture.
Getting there: take the train (Line 1) to University of Ottawa to begin at the the Rideau Canal, or to Rideau or Parliament to begin at Major’s Hill Park. View Major’s Hill Park on Google Maps.
Cost: parking fees apply at University of Ottawa and in the Byward Market. Free access.
Hog’s Back + Vincent Massey Park
These locations are summer favourites that are often overlooked in fall, but they’re worth revisiting. Hog’s Back has a beautiful waterfall with walkways on either side, so you can take in spectacular fall colours all around. Vincent Massey is walking distance away, so you can either start there or at Hog’s Back, and has benches for a picnic lunch and trails that span the river.
Getting there: accessible by bus (111) or by train Line 2 (Mooney’s Bay stop. View Google Maps location of Hog’s Back Falls.
Cost: paid parking at Vincent Massey. Free parking at Hog’s Back. Free access.
Stony Swamp + Jack Pine Trail
This beautiful section of the Greenbelt has over 40km of trails to offer. The ecosystems vary from forest to marsh, with trails on land an on board walks. It’s the perfect place for a fall walk with some scenic variety. Start your walk from Stony Swamp or Jack Pine trail.
Getting there: driving is easiest. Semi-accessible by bus. Take the 57 and walk 21 minutes. View on Google Maps.
Cost: free parking. Free access.
Chapman Mills Conservation Area
Spend a fall day in Manotick and explore the Chapman Mills Conservation Area. Enjoy boardwalks and a natural shoreline without having to leave the city. There are over 20 acres to this conservation area so there’s lots to explore! You won’t be far from Manotick either. Stop by the Manotick Mill to see it surrounded by fall colours and visit great cafès and restaurants for snacks or lunch.
Getting there: Most accessible by car. Accessible by bus route 99 + walk 15 minutes. View on Google Maps
Cost: no parking fee. Free access.
Ottawa Fall Colours Day Trips
Omega Park – Quebec
It’s possibly that fall is the most spectacular time to visit Omega Park. The elk calls are their loudest in fall, so load up your car with carrots and go pass them out. This time of year is great for photos and it’s a little quieter than visiting in the summer. Omega Park at night is also running throughout the fall. Visit the park after hours for a nighttime light & sound experience.
Info: View Hours and Prices
Location: View on Google Maps
Wheeler’s Pancake House
Get your fall colour fix and some delicious pancakes at Wheeler’s Pancake House just an hour outside of Ottawa. There’s a large property with trails that you can explore, and you can also take in some of the exhibits about maple syrup. Break for lunch and fill up on delicious, fresh pancakes.
Foley Mountain Conservation Area
This stunning conservation and lookout sits above the small town of Westport and is the perfect day trip to see fall colours. The epic lookout pictured above is just moments from the parking lot so you can stop for a photo-op and then enjoy a hike around one of the many trails to choose from before going for lunch in town. View my full guide to the town of Westport.
Wakefield – Quebec
Make a day trip out to Wakefield. It’s always a summer favourite, but Wakefield is equally spectacular in the fall. Walk along the old railway track or make your way to the covered bridge for stunning screens of fall along the water. There are several nice coffee shops, bakeries, and restaurants in town for lunch. I love Hibou!
Calabogie Peaks Resort
There are couple great ways to see the fall colours in Calabogie. If you’re visiting on the weekend, catch the chairlift for a bird’s eye view of the trees and the lake – only operational on the weekends + Thanksgiving Monday until mid October. Check out the Calabogie Peaks Resort website for more details. There are also several hiking trails that you can explore. Make your way to Eagle’s Nest for a spectacular photo-op and view. Check out this guide for hiking.
Cost: hiking is free. There is a $15 fee for the chairlift.
Montreal – Quebec
Montreal has lots to offer during the fall, including gorgeous colours and a spectacular exhibit at the botanical gardens. Make your way up to Mont Royal to see the city’s best fall foliage. Then, spend the evening at the Montreal Botanical Gardens for Gardens of Light.
Information: Gardens of Light
Mont Tremblant -Quebec
The picture-perfect small town for fall colours, Mont Tremblant offers a chair lift, hiking trails, a cute town, and great food. This is the perfect option for a day trip from Ottawa to see the fall colours. It’s also a great place for a weekend getaway, and not an expensive place to stay.
Ottawa Fall Colours in Gatineau Park
Gatineau Park remains a favourite because it’s beautiful and offers incredible fall colours and views, but during Fall Rhapsody it can be extremely busy.
View: Gatineau Parks Trail to Guide to find the right trail for you!
The NCC free shuttle for Fall Rhapsody operates on weekends + Thanksgiving Mondey from the Supreme Court. View detailed route. However wait times can exceed an hour. If you’re visiting Gatineau Park go early or go during the week to avoid the massive crowds and long wait times.