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Monday, September 30, 2019

Leaf peeper guide to Ontario Parks; Algonquin and more . . .

   One-Tank Trip for Sept. 21/19

    (c) By Jim Fox

   Just a “heads up” while taking in the kaleidoscope of fall colours in Ontario Parks.
   You don’t have to encounter Highway 401-like traffic while in the woods marvelling over the vibrant fall spectacle.
   Visitors can find themselves shut out of Algonquin Provincial Park near Huntsville because of traffic gridlock on Highway 60 that passes through.
   “The secret is out,” said Jeff Brown of Ontario Parks about Algonquin’s fall colours that are “beautiful and it’s one of our busiest parks in the fall.”
Many Ontario Parks feature blue water and colourful leaves in the fall. (Jim Fox photo)
    Weekends get “extremely crowded, especially at the West Gate,” he said, adding: “Sometimes, it completely fills up and visitors are unable to enter.”
   Leaf-peepers need not despair as “Algonquin is far from the only park in Ontario where visitors can experience incredible fall colours,” he said.
   To check on the progress of the seasonal change follow the Fall Colour Report (ontarioparks.com/fallcolour) that showed the first signs of changes in the past week.
Algonquin Park traffic bogs down on fall weekends. (Ontario Parks)
    Ontario Parks offers these alternatives for parks that are “awe-inspiring” in the fall while avoiding traffic and crowds.

   The falling leaves
   Bonnechere Provincial Park in Killaloe has “incredible fall colours,” that can be best seen on its hiking trails.
   This includes the McNaugton Trail along the meandering Bonnechere River or canoe to Jack’s Chute observing flora and fauna.
   There are scenic campsites, a beach, visitor centre and cottage and four rustic cabins available.
   Restoule Provincial Park is just west of Algonquin, is south of Lake Nipissing and north of the Muskoka Lakes.
Taking a fall walk at Bon Echo Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks)
    The forest is similar to Algonquin with red and sugar maples dominating with deep reds and brilliant gold and orange hues.
   Towering, gnarled yellow birch add to the warmth of the canopy, while red oak adds a deep reddish burgundy and pine and hemlock add green.
   The seven-kilometre Fire Tower Trail peaks at a fire tower, one of the few remaining in Ontario.
   Mikisew Provincial Park is called the “perfect complement” to Restoule with an extended camping season until Oct. 15.
   “Sleep in a campground surrounded by mature maple trees in all their fall beauty, or tuck yourself away in a lovely red pine forest with that fresh pine smell,” Brown said.
   The park is on the shores of  Eagle Lake with trails and an 18-hole disc golf course.
    Rondeau Provincial Park is called “an oasis of nature nestled between Windsor and London.”
Rondeau park shows its fall finery with colourful maple leaves. (Ontario Parks)
    Established in 1894, it’s Ontario’s second-oldest provincial park after Algonquin, it “has it all – spectacular colours, vibrant wildlife and activities for the whole family.”
   Being at the same latitude as California on Lake Erie, Rondeau stays warmer to late October and has activities throughout the fall.
   These include a Halloween celebration on Oct. 12 and a chili cook-off on Oct. 19.
Spectacular fall colours can be seen in Algonquin Park along Highway 60. (Barbara Fox photo)
    The colourful Spice Bush Trail winds through a southern hardwood forest of old-growth tulip trees, American beech and maple. Open until Oct. 27.

   Colours galore
   Other less-crowded spots include Sandbanks Provincial Park in Picton, open until Oct. 21.
   It’s a chance to discover Prince Edward County with apple and pumpkin picking, beer and wine tasting, and hunting for antique treasures.
A photo opportunity is from the deck at Algonquin Park’s Visitor Centre. (Jim Fox photo)
   Bon Echo Provincial Park in Cloyne has the fairly rugged overnight Abes & Essens Trail with three loops for spectacular views of lakes, forested areas and wildlife.
   Many of the Group of Seven artists were frequent visitors.
   Lake Superior Provincial Park offers amber reds, warm yellows and brilliant oranges unparalleled hiking trails, now bug-free.
   The Awausee Trail takes visitors past lookouts with views of  the Agawa Valley and Lake Superior. The find out more: www.Ontarioparks.com; 1-800-ONTARIO


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

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