Experience the dramatic fall colours in Peterborough and the Kawarthas with these 5 incredible places to experience autumn in central Ontario.
After spending a week paddling some of the gorgeous lakes of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park I was inspired. It was incredible to be back in the area where I grew up. The fall colors of Peterborough and the Kawarthas were just coming into bloom. And I was reminded of just how incredible this region of Central Ontario is during the fall season. I decided that it was time that I took the time to really share this incredible area with people. Fall in Peterborough Ontario and the surrounding area is BEAUTIFUL. And at an hour-and-a-half from Toronto, it’s truly one of the best places to experience autumn in Ontario.
Where Is Peterborough Ontario?
Peterborough, Ontario is often called the gateway to cottage country. Unless you’re traveling north to Muskoka, you’re probably traveling east through Peterborough in order to reach the amazing Kawarthas and the small towns that lie around them. Peterborough sits right near the base of the Kawarthas on the shores of Little Lake. To go from Toronto to Peterborough it’s a quick drive along the 401 followed by HWY 115 which ends on the southern edge of Peterborough.
This city of a little more than 80,000 people is a popular stop for those searching for fall colours in Ontario. From the beautiful parks, the booming culinary experiences, and the university and college scene, Peterborough is one of the most popular cities in Ontario. During the autumn season, Peterborough absolutely explodes with color. The city is surrounded by nature. And all of those trees make for a spectacular show during the fall season in Peterborough.
Best Places To See Fall Colours In Peterborough And The Kawarthas
You don’t have to look far to find fall colors in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. The region is a nature-lovers paradise. And both inside the city limits, and within Peterborough County itself, you can find amazing Ontario fall foliage almost anywhere. Here are a few of my favorite places to see the fall colors in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.
Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
One of the top spots to see the fall colors in Peterborough and the Kawarthas is near the town of Apsley. Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is a huge area to explore. And with Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park being the second-largest provincial park in southern Ontario, there’s plenty of foliage to explore. The trails along Loon Call Lake are among my favorites. It’s also a great spot to spot the Peterborough fall colors by canoe.
If you are looking for great fall colors drive near Kawartha Highlands Park by following HWY 23 up past Trent University. Turn left on HWY 36 and follow it to HWY 507. This is one of my all-time favorite fall color road trips in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. There are a lot of places to stop and turn off. Have a picnic on the edge of Mississauga Lake at the end of Mississauga Dam Rd.
To break up your fall colour exploration stop in at Viamede Resort on Stoney Lake. This cottage-style resort has a beautiful waterfront. You can even enjoy one of the region’s incredible 7-course pairing menus. It features farm-to-table cuisine, much of it taken from their on-site farm. This experience is reserved mostly for guests of the resort.
Less than 30-minutes up HWY 28 from Peterborough is the small town of Burleigh Falls. Between the rushing waters of the waterfalls to the lush-tree lined shores, Burleigh Falls is one of the most beautiful areas to see the fall colors in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. A quick turn off the highway before the bridge and you’ll find a small dirt parking lot of the left-hand side.
There are a few trails around the base of Burleigh Falls where you can see the Peterborough fall colors in all of their glory. Here you get the added benefit of seeing the beautiful Burleigh Falls course from Lower Buckhorn Lake into Stoney Lake. Burleigh Falls is a perfect place for a picnic. You can also stop by the Burleigh Falls Inn for a bite to eat if you didn’t bring your own provisions. Burleigh Falls Inn also makes for a great place to stay if you want to spend the weekend soaking in these Burleigh Falls fall colors in Peterborough and the Kawarthas.
The campus of Trent University in Peterborough is one of the most beautiful in Ontario. In fact, it’s so beautiful there that Christina and I chose Trent University for the location of our wedding reception. Trent University sits on the banks of the Otonabee River. The river flows through the city but some of the best spots for Peterborough fall colors are on campus.
There are a number of great hiking trails in the hills surrounding Trent University. Or you can see the fall foliage from the river on a canoe or kayak ride. If you don’t have your own boat you can rent one on the Otonabee River at Peterborough Pedal n’ Paddle. I particularly like the area just n0rth of the pedestrian bridge that crosses between the west and east sides of the river.
If you’re looking for some food near Trent University check out the Cabin at Trent on the east shore of the Nassau Mills Rd bridge. This Peterborough classic serves up classic grill-fare and has some pretty great views of the Otonabee River.
Urban parks and conservation areas are always a great place to experience Peterborough in the fall. Jackson Park and the Kawartha Trail which starts up near Monaghan Rd. and Parkhill Rd. in the east-end is one of my favorite places to see the Peterborough fall colours with kids. Jackson Park is teeming with walking trails along the pretty and shallow Jackson Creek.
The Kawartha Trail through Jackson Park is a great bike ride. The route passes through beautiful Kawartha wilderness and farmland out over fields and trestle bridges to the town of Omemee. One of the top places in the park to visit is around Jackson Park Pond. The pagoda bridge is especially beautiful when it’s surrounded by the fall colors of Peterborough.
For a great meal near Jackson Park head downtown to Kettle Drums on the corner of Aylmer and Hunter St. This restaurant has a great patio for enjoying the Peterborough fall weather. Their gourmet grilled cheese is especially tasty.
The town of Warsaw is a place where I spend a lot of time. And one of the most beautiful parts of the region is Warsaw Caves Conservation Area off of HWY 4. Warsaw Caves has beautiful hiking and biking trails to explore while the fall colors of Peterborough are in bloom. And as per its name, Warsaw caves also has an incredible series of caves that are amazing to explore with the whole family. We usually end up here every couple of years exploring.
The Warsaw Caves aren’t show-caves like those up in Bonnechere. These are active caves that often change year-to-year based on the shifting of the ground over winter. And if you decide to explore the Warsaw Caves make sure you’re prepared with headlamps, gloves, and good quality shoes. They can get slippery and rough inside. The area around Quarry Lake as some of the best foliage for Peterborough autumn colors.
If you’re looking for a nice break from the fall colors in Warsaw Caves head over to nearby Lakefield. At the corner of Water St. and Bridge St is Canoe and Paddle. You can enjoy some great local pub-grub right alongside the Otonabee River. During the evenings there is often live music to enjoy. If you’re just looking for a treat you can also grab a local Kawartha Dairy ice cream at Stuff’d Ice Cream right next door to Canoe and Paddle.
Best Hotels For Fall Colours In Peterborough and the Kawarthas
IF you’re looking to spend a weekend in Peterborough searching for fall foliage here are a few of the best hotels for fall colors.
Holiday Inn Peterborough Waterfront
Holiday Inn Peterborough has one of the best locations in the city. It’s perched right on the shores of the Otonabee River just a short distance from Little Lake. The view from the back patio is perfect for waking up to the Peterborough fall colors. The hotel also has a pool and a popular restaurant as well. You can check out their prices and availability here.
Situated on the beautiful shores of Stoney Lake, Viamede Resort is a popular getaway from city-living in Peterborough. This cottage-style resort has a beautiful tree-filled waterfront, on-site dining, and a waterfront pool. Guests can take part in the high-end 7-course wine-paired dining experience at Viamede as well.
Peterborough Inn & Suites
Although the Peterborough Inn & Suites doesn’t offer much in the way of views of the Peterborough fall colors, it does have a great, central location. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown Peterborough, this hotel has convenient access to many of the great Peterborough restaurants. The high-end rooms are spacious and comfortable. You can check out the prices and availability here.
Disclosure: This post was made possible with the support of Peterborough and the Kawarthas Tourism. All opinions remain our own. Wandering Wagars is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
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