If you’re looking to experience the fall colours in Muskoka, here are the best places to see the changing colours in and around the Muskoka area.
There’s something magical about the leaves changing colour in the fall. And while there are many great places to see the fall colours in Ontario, we think that Muskoka and the nearby area is one of the best experiences you can have (yes, we’re a bit biased…).
Just over a 2 hour drive from the GTA, it’s an easy weekend getaway, or even a day trip, and there are plenty of great places to see fall colours in Muskoka.
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Where is Muskoka?
Muskoka is affectionately known as ‘cottage country’, as its many lakes are dotted with cottages lining the shores.
It’s just under 2 hours north of Toronto, and an easy weekend or day trip from Toronto.
Just north of Muskoka is the under-rated region of Almaguin. The crowds are notably less but the foliage here is even more vibrant.
We may be a bit biased, as this is where we spent a fair bit of time in the summer and fall before moving to the East Coast, but we think this is one of the best areas to see the fall colours in Ontario.
When is the Best Time to See Fall Colours in Muskoka?
Fall officially begins Sept 21st, but we all know that Mother Nature often has a mind of her own and sometimes fall doesn’t seem to appear until a few weeks later.
In Muskoka and the Almaguin Highlands (just north of Muskoka), the leaves usually begin to change colour during the first few weeks of September.
Depending on the temperatures, peak colour can happen anytime towards the end of September or the beginning of October.
Some years the peak colour is even a week or two later and perfect timing for (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend.
Check for the latest conditions and updates on fall colour here on the Ontario Parks website. While the site only lists the provincial parks, you can use the colour report for Arrowhead, Algonquin and Mikisew Provincial Park to predict the leaf colour and condition nearby.
Tips for Seeing Fall Colours in Muskoka
- Popular areas, such as Algonquin and the Highway 60 corridor can be very busy on weekends and evenings. If possible, try to plan your visit around these times.
- Provincial Parks do require a day permit when visiting. Fee information and online bookings can be found here.
- Algonquin can be very busy and the park will be closed once capacity is reached. Plan your visit in advance and get your day permit ahead of time!
- Many highways will be awash with colour. Please be safe and do NOT stop on the highway for a photo. There are plenty of spots to park and safely get out to view the fall colours.
How to Plan your Visit to see Fall Colours in Muskoka
Muskoka is about a 2 hour drive from Toronto. You can plan a day trip (we have done it!), but the area is so lovely that I bet you will want to stay longer!
Huntsville is one of the larger towns in the area and has plenty of accommodations to choose from.
Located just off of Hwy 60, Holiday Inn Express & Suites and the Best Western Plus Muskoka Inn are two of the most popular hotels in Huntsville. They both have indoor swimming pools, free parking and complimentary breakfasts. Both hotels are only a quick drive to Algonquin, Arrowhead or the downtown area of Huntsville.
For those looking for a more luxury stay, Deerhurst Resort is another popular place to stay. Conveniently located close to Algonquin Park, it’s also easy to access downtown Huntsville.
Fall Colours in Muskoka Map
Best Places to See Fall Colours in Muskoka
Algonquin Provincial Park
Highway 60 passes through Algonquin Provincial Park and there is no shortage of fall colours to see along the way.
It is one of the more popular places to see fall colours in Muskoka though, so be aware that it does get busy and traffic will be slow.
You won’t need a day permit to drive through the park but if you are stopping to hike any of the trails (which we highly recommend!), then you will need to purchase a day use permit. Info can be found here.
Some of the more popular trails are the Lookout Trail, Centennial Ridges and Hardwood Lookout.
The Lookout Trail is a short 2.1km loop that’s fairly steep in sections but the hike is worth it for the stunning views of the surrounding area. There’s a parking lot at km39 (distances are measured from the West Gate) and the trail is well marked from there.
Hardwood Lookout is another popular trail. The short 1 km trail has some steep climbs but has a fantastic lookout over the lake and surrounding hills.
Centennial Ridges is a longer, more challenging hike but it has some spectacular views of the fall colours! The 10km hike will take around 5-6 hours and can be muddy, so come prepared with proper hiking boots!
Arrowhead Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is just 7km north of Huntsville and a great place to see the fall colours in Muskoka.
Not quite as popular as Algonquin but just as gorgeous, Arrowhead has a stunning lookout and a trail that leads to a waterfall.
Whether you prefer to hike or just head to the lookout, Arrowhead offers some great views of the fall colours in Ontario.
Stubb’s Falls trail is a 2km trail that follows Little East River to a waterfall that cascades over the rocks. It’s a stunning waterfall, regardless of the season, and one of our favourite trails in the area. In the fall, it’s gorgeous with the coloured leaves hanging over the falls.
For those that prefer not to hike, Big Bend Lookout is another great place in Arrowhead to see the fall colours. Looking out over the bend in the river (hence the name), Big Bend Lookout offers a birds eye view of the fall colours.
Arrowhead Provincial Park does require a day-use permit and spots do fill up ahead of time (which is why the photo is from the summer, not with the fall colours), so be sure to book your tickets ahead of time!
Lions Lookout, Huntsville
A popular spot in Huntsville any time of the year, Lions Lookout is a great spot to see the fall colours in Muskoka.
Whether you choose to hike up the 1.3km trail that follows the Muskoka River to Fairy Lake, or simply drive up to the lookout, you won’t be disappointed!
The views overlooking the town and across the lake are worth seeing anytime of the year, but shouldn’t be missed in the fall!
Hunter’s Bay Trail, Huntsville
Hunter’s Bay Trail is a 4.6km trail that’s great for biking or hiking.
It can be accessed from either the Center St bridge in downtown Huntsville or off Muskoka Road 3, just under the Hwy 11 bridge on East Airport Road.
The trail winds along the river and over some sections of floating boardwalk on Hunters Bay. It’s not a loop trail though!
Indian Landing, Port Sydney
Just south of Huntsville, Indian Landing is another great spot to see the fall colours in Muskoka.
While the fall colours can be seen all along the river, it’s a large maple tree that is the most stunning to see.
A designated heritage tree, the maple leans out over the river and turns a gorgeous, vibrant red in the fall.
Although we missed seeing the tree at its’ peak, it’s easy to see how stunning it would be!
Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve
Just a 25-minute drive from Huntsville, Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve is a fantastic spot to experience the fall colours in Muskoka.
This private wilderness area is open to the public year-round and has over 70km of hiking trails that wind through over 10, 000 unspoiled acres of mixed forest. The trails are well-maintained and clearly marked, with boardwalks and benches to rest on.
The Buck Lake Lookout Trail is a great one to see the changing colours. It’s a bit steep in spots, but the views from the lookout make it worthwhile! And entry to the reserve is absolutely free.
Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower
As the name suggests, the tower provides a very scenic lookout. Just north of Dorset, and about 30 minutes drive from Huntsville, the Dorset Tower was originally used as a fire lookout tower, with views over the surrounding area.
A new tower was built, specifically for visitors to enjoy the view, and in the fall, it’s a popular spot to see the fall colours.
Tickets are required to climb the tower and must be purchased in advance for weekends in September and early October, but during weekdays, tickets can be purchased at the gate on arrival.
Best Places to See Fall Colours Around Muskoka
The Almaguin Highlands are just north of Muskoka and are a great place to see the fall colours in Ontario.
Less popular (and less busy) than Muskoka, the Almaguin Highlands are just as stunning in the fall. It’s a great places to get out and enjoy the fall colours in Ontario, without the crowds!
Screaming Heads, Burk’s Falls
The Screaming Heads is a unique attraction in Ontario and a perfect spot to visit in the fall.
Wander through the artist’s large property with over 100 sculptures that he’s created over the years.
Screaming heads and hands rise from the ground all throughout the property.
There’s also gargoyles, a spider web gate and a giant head that is the artist’s studio.
The entire property is surrounded by trees, which provide a gorgeous backdrop to the statues rising out of the ground.
A visit to the Screaming Heads is a great place to see the fall colours in Ontario and get a unique, spooky experience at the same time!
Heritage River Walk, Burk’s Falls
Following the Magnetewan River, the Heritage River Walk is an easy and short trail in the Almaguin Highlands.
During the fall, the trees lining the river provide a colourful backdrop to the already stunning scenery. Take a short hike and be rewarded with some great views and one of the best, quietest places to see the fall colours in Ontario.
Final Thoughts: Best Places to See Fall Colours in Muskoka
Fall in Ontario is gorgeous and there are plenty of great places to soak up the changing colours. Whether you’re looking to go for a hike, take in the views from a lookout or simply take a fall colours drive, these places to see fall colours in Muskoka won’t disappoint.