If you don’t catch that perfect week for the fall colours, you just might blink and miss them. They are difficult to catch at just the right time, but if you find the perfect moment, the spectacle of viewing Ottawa’s fall foliage can be absolutely breathtaking!
Usually in Ottawa, the leaves are in their prime during the first week of October. But this isn’t always the case. They can range from the last week of September all the way to the last week of October. There is a website you can periodically check on which lets you know when the leaves are at their best: 400eleven.com
When that perfect week strikes, Ottawa has some great places to enjoy the fall foliage right here in the city. If you are a true fall lover and are willing to day trip out to one of our neighbouring towns, there are some great places nearby! Check out our list of the top 10 places in the Ottawa area to view the fall foliage.
Ottawa is a beautiful city during all seasons of the year, but there is something extra special about it during the fall. The colours light up the city in a unique way that only comes around once a year for a very short time. These next 4 places are our top spots for viewing the fall foliage within the city of Ottawa.
15 minutes from downtown
The Arboretum covers 60+ acres of lush rolling land between Prince of Wales Drive, Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal. The Arboretum is most well-known for its mature trees, shrubs and beautiful landscapes. Have you ever visited in the fall? The leaves and the Rideau Canal, bridges and walking paths all blend together to create an enchanting place to stroll. All of these things together makes the Arboretum one of Ottawa’s top places to view fall foliage.
1-15 minutes from downtown
Speaking of the Rideau Canal; basically anywhere you walk along the historic waterway will give gorgeous vistas of colourful leafy trees. On a calm day, you can even get amazing reflections of the leaves in the water. Whether you are in the heart of downtown with Parliament as a backdrop, at Lansdowne Park, or at Mooney’s Bay Park, you will not be disappointed with the scenery you will find along our famous 202km canal system!
15 minutes from downtown
If you are already going for a walk along the canal, you might as well stop at Hog’s Back Park to check out the leaves among the falls. There are lots of different perspectives you can get above or below the falls with leaves. Once you are finished with Hog’s Back, you can then walk along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway and check out Mooney’s Bay and Vincent Massey Park. These parks have one thing in common – they are spectacular autumn foliage viewing points! Bring your camera for this walk, you will definitely capture some great fall photos!
20 minutes from downtown
Did you know that Mer Bleue is the largest bog and natural area in our Capital Region? It is also the second largest blog in southern Ontario. The northern boreal landscape that Mer Bleue has to offer is a popular stop at any time of the year, but in the fall you can enjoy some truly amazing displays of colour! The impressive boardwalks make a great focal point among the leafy trees in the background. Some areas of the path will even allow for reflections of the trees in the water. Bring some birdseed with you for this walk, the chickadees really love this area as well.
If you are really into this fall foliage thing, you might want to take a bit of a road trip to see the leaves changing. The places listed below offer some really spectacular views of the fall foliage. The great thing about taking a road trip is you are going to have great views of leaves changing all around you the entire ride! All trips are less than an hour and a half away from downtown Ottawa.
40 minutes from downtown Ottawa
Due to the the growth of microscopic algae in the water in Pink Lake, the water has an emerald deep green colour in the fall months. This sparkling green paired with the warm tones of the leaves creates a stunning combination of colour and scenery. There is a trail that wraps around the entirety of the lake giving you unique views and perspectives during your walk. With lookouts along the way, this is surely a Gatineau Park fall favourite!
1 hour and 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa
The Eagle’s Nest Lookout is an easy 1.5km hike along a logging road with a gradual uphill climb. The short hike leads to a spectacular lookout atop a 120-metre cliff with amazing views of the Madawaska Valley. This is a great lookout at any time of the year but extra special in the fall with all of the deciduous trees and shrubs in the valley. Because this view is so fantastic and popular during the fall months, you may want to get your hike in early in the morning to avoid the crowds. If you show up early enough, you may even catch some fog over the hills which makes for some magnificent fall photos.
1 hour from downtown Ottawa
Fitzroy Provincial Park is set along the Ottawa River offering a mature forest of century-old white pine trees and 300-year old oak trees. This park features great views of the fall foliage against the Ottawa River. The reflections you can get with the leaves are simply breathtaking! Why not also check out the quaint small town of Fitzroy Harbour and catch a sunset over the Ottawa River. This road trip is only 1 hour from Ottawa and is sure to be a great day trip with the family.
30 minutes from downtown Ottawa
The Mackenzie King Estate features historic ruins settled between vibrant orange and yellow trees. The Estate is always picturesque with its magnificent grounds and charming estate, but when you pair this with fall foliage, you get an impressive display. You’ll want to bring your walking shoes as there are tons of hiking paths near the Estate that offer great scenic views of the changing leaves on the trees. The Waterfall Trail is only a short 10 minute walk from the Estate and shouldn’t be missed. The water trickling down the rocks with the leaves and foliage in the background is a sight not to be missed!
If you absolutely LIVE FOR FALL and are looking for a more unique vantage point of the leaves, these next couple of places will be sure to dazzle you. Each place is less than a 2 hour drive from Ottawa – and totally worth it! So buckle up and get ready for a road trip!
1 hour and 40 minutes from downtown Ottawa
Though Mont Tremblant is mostly visited in the winter and summer months, autumn is also a great time to enjoy this delightful town. Take the chairlift up to the top and enjoy a spectacular view from the highest peak in the Laurentian Mountains while taking in the amazing transformation of nature. There is plenty of hiking in the area along with viewing decks, ziplines, great food, shopping and more! What could be a better location for viewing the fall foliage than on top of a mountain?
1 hour and 40 minutes to downtown
Speaking of heights, the Mont Morissette Park has an 18-metre observation tower that offers breathtaking views of the majestic Blue Sea Lake and the surrounding area. Not a hiker? No problem! There is a road that takes you right to the foot of the tower. If you do enjoy a good hike, there are 13kms of easy marked trails. You won’t get sick of the scenic fall views paired with an abundance of crystal clear lakes. The views you will get from Mont Morissette are not to be missed this fall!
We hope you enjoyed our top 10 places in Ottawa area to view fall foliage. This is just a short list and there are tons of other great locations in the Greater Ottawa Area to take in the fall scenery. Our city has an abundance of hiking and walking trails that offer vistas of the foliage.
Looking for more trails and hikes in the Ottawa area?
Check out our blog post: Best Trails in Ottawa