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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer in retreat; leaves turning colours already across Ontario

   One-Tank Trip for Sept. 8/12

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Reality check: After a long hot summer that started early and seemed to go on forever, the end is near.
   Ontario Parks’ fall colours reports have started and it might be hard to believe there are signs summer is on the wane.
The fall colours have begun to appear at Algonquin Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)
   Algonquin Provincial Park reports already up to 19 per cent of its leaves have changed colour while earlier this week the percentage of fallen leaves is up to nine per cent at the park near Huntsville.
   Good spots to view the colourful spectacle are the Algonquin Parkway Corridor on Highway 60, with the best lookouts being Hardwood, Track and Tower, Centennial Ridges and Lookout and Booth's Rock trails.

   Leaf peepers in droves
   Changing colours and special activities attract more than one-million visitors to Ontario Parks in the fall, said Lori Waldbrook, senior marketing specialist.
   Mid-September to late October is the prime time to view the flaming red maple, deep yellow poplar and white-barked birch trees leaves.

   They become the backdrop for touring artisan studios, enjoying fall photography workshops and hunting for great antiques.
Ontario Parks report the fall colours have just started. (Ontario Parks photo)
   It’s easy to track the changing colours on the Ontario Parks’ website at www.parkreports.com/fall with suggestions for the best viewing locations and links to “Great Fall Drives” around each park.
   There’s also the Ontario Tourism's fall colour report starting soon at www.ontariotravel.net
   The other provincial parks reported the fall colours are just starting and listed their changes all at zero to nine per cent.

   Magnificent migrating monarchs
   Along with leaves in the parks this fall, there’s the Monarch Butterfly Migration Festival at Rondeau on Sept. 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Thousands of monarch butterflies fuel up for their trip south at the park at Morpeth, southeast of Chatham, every fall.
Get up close to migrating Monarch butterflies at a festival at Rondeau Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks photo)
    Nature’s long-distance marathoners fly to Mexico and this event has the Friends of Rondeau and park staff helping to send them on their way.
   There are guided butterfly hikes, information on how to tag a butterfly and learning about plants they like, a barbecue and local artisan wares.
   Naturalists are concerned over the drought-like conditions of the summer that have caused the early peaking of milkweed plants that monarch caterpillars feed on.
   This could result in not enough nectar to go around during their long journey, suggested Rondeau’s Laura Penner.
   Events details at www.rondeauprovincialpark.ca; (519) 674-1768

   Look, see, paint and photos
   Watercolour painting workshops will be held at Algonquin Provincial Park on Sept. 16.
   Called Look, See, Paint, they feature artist Jeff Miller leading two half-day sessions (adults only in the afternoon) about creating art in the park.
   The nature outdoor painting program is aimed at “connecting kids and adults to the beauty of Algonquin Park.”
   An Autumn Landscape Photography Workshop will be held at Algonquin on Oct. 9.
   The workshop is led by Debbie Bradley to “take advantage of the current stage of the fall leaf colour change when the forest floor and bogs are dressed in beautiful yellow and golden hues.”
   Details:  www.algonquinpark.on.ca; (613) 637-2828 ext. 236
   Artists and easels will be on park trails capturing the fall colours in Killarney Provincial Park from Sept. 20 to 23.
   This park on the north shore of Georgian Bay is where Canada's famous Group of Seven members often visited in the fall to sketch.
   This event is held for members of the Ontario Society of Artists, marking its 140th anniversary. http://friendsofkillarneypark.ca
   Take the challenge now through Oct. 31 at Frontenac Provincial Park, north of Kingston.
   The Frontenac Challenge is to hike all 160 kilometres of the trails and receive a certificate and plaque in the park office. www.frontenacpark.ca

   Forget roughing it
   New types of accommodation are being piloted in three Ontario Parks this fall.
Go camping in style with deluxe tents at three Ontario Parks this fall. (Ontario Parks photo)
    Visitors can reserve camp cabins and deluxe tents at Pinery Provincial Park on Lake Huron, Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville, and Murphys Point Provincial Park, southwest of Ottawa.
   The cabins sleep five and the deluxe tents sleep four comfortably, with both featuring rustic-style log furniture and screened-in porches with Muskoka chairs.
   Check them out at: www.parkreports.com/parksblog/?p=2857
   There are 84 parks with hiking trails of varying distances and skill levels, with 11 of them offering overnight backpacking trails. Go to the park locator at www.parkreports.com/locator/search.php or Ontario Parks main site: www.ontarioparks.com


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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