Fall is a gorgeous time of year in Canada, and nowhere is that more true than in Nova Scotia. The province comes alive with beautiful fall colours as the leaves on the trees change from green to a range of oranges, yellows and vibrant reds. So grab your sweater and check out the best places to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia.
When is the best time to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia?
Being from Ontario, we’re pretty spoiled with seeing the leaves change colour throughout September. By the end of the month, the fall colours in Muskoka and Almaguin have usually reached their peak, and the fall colours in Southern Ontario will soon follow suit.
So when we first visited the East Coast in mid September, I was a little disappointed with the Nova Scotia fall foliage.
But what I didn’t realize were two things:
One, everything in Nova Scotia blooms a few weeks later than what I’m used to in Ontario, and the leaves don’t begin to change colour until the end of September. Peak season for fall foliage in Nova Scotia usually occurs around the middle of October.
And two, I didn’t really know where to find the fall colours in Nova Scotia.
I mean, you can see some colours on the trees as you’re driving along the highway, but there are definitely some better places to get out and see the fall colours!
So after a bit of exploring, we’ve now found some great places to see the fall colours in Halifax and other places throughout the province.
To help you plan your Nova Scotia leaf-peeping adventure, we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to see fall colours in Nova Scotia.
Where to See the Fall Colours in NS
Cape Breton Island
The Cabot Trail is a scenic drive to do anytime of the year, but it’s especially stunning in the fall. The fall colours in Cape Breton are some of the best in the province, as the trees explode with colours of yellow, orange and red, making for a truly breathtaking drive.
There are plenty of lookout points along the Cabot Trail where you can stop to take in the views, and there are also lots of hiking trails if you want to get up close to the fall foliage.
The Skyline Trail, the most popular trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park, is a great hike to do year-round, but the view from the boardwalk is stunning in the fall. The coastline contrasts with the changing colours of the forests, and you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the Cabot Trail winding its way along the side of the mountain.
The trail out to the boardwalk takes about 45 minutes to hike, or you can do the full loop which takes about 2-3 hours. The Skyline Trail is a great hike to do with kids, but be careful along the boardwalk section!
Aspy Trail, between Pleasant Bay and Cape North, is another great trail to see the fall colours in Cape Breton. It takes about 3-4 hours to hike the 9.6km but you’ll be surrounded with gorgeous fall colours as you hike through the Acadian forest.
Driving along the Cabot Trail near Ingonish, you’ll be rewarded with some stunning colours on Cape Smokey, Nova Scotia’s highest peak. Take a ride on the Atlantic Gondola for even more incredible views of the fall foliage.
Read more | A Cabot Trail Itinerary for 2 Days
And be sure to check out the Celtic Colours International Festival, held each year in mid-October, beginning on the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving, that is). There are nine days of events and activities taking place across the island, from world-class concerts to local dance and fiddling sessions or cultural demonstrations and presentations. All with the backdrop of some spectacular scenery, as the fall colours will be at their peak by then!
The Annapolis Valley
The Annapolis Valley is one of the most picturesque regions in Nova Scotia, and it’s especially beautiful in the fall. The valley is home to many different types of trees and plants, so you’ll see a range of colours as you drive through the area.
And fall in the Annapolis Valley is more than just colourful leaves – stop by one of the many apple orchards to pick your own apples, enjoy a glass of cider at one of the local wineries, or check out the pumpkin people in Kentville.
Bear River has some spectacular fall colours, especially along the river where the maples turn a bright red. One of the best places to view the river and the fall colours is from the Purdy-Chute road leading into Bear River.
The Bay of Fundy coastline is also a great place to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia. The cliffs are dramatic at any time of year, but they’re especially stunning when they’re contrasted with the colourful leaves of fall.
Burntcoat Head Park, home to the world’s highest recorded tides, is a great place to experience the tides of the Bay of Fundy and see the fall colours. The trees lining the driveway into the park are awash with colour, and the view of the mountains across the Minas Basin contrast with reddish-brown ocean floor.
One of the most popular places to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia is the Lookoff.
Just past Wolfville and a bit of a steep drive up a narrow road, the Lookoff is a popular spot anytime of the year, but it’s especially stunning in the fall.
The Lookoff is at the side of the road, so no hiking required and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views over the Annapolis Valley.
Farm fields spread out below the Lookoff, and in the distance you can see the town of Wolfville and the Minas Basin.
Wentworth Valley is a popular ski hill in the winter months and in the fall, it’s one of the best places to see the fall colours in Nova Scotia.
Enjoy the gorgeous colours as you take a chairlift ride up Wentworth Mountain, and admire the view of the valley below. Then get up close to the fall colours as you hike back down through the forest. Information on tickets can be found here.
And, as a bonus, just across the road from Wentworth Mountain is Wentworth Falls, one of the best waterfalls near Halifax.
Victoria Park, located in the centre of Truro, is a great spot to see the leaves changing colour. The park is home to a wide variety of trees, and in the fall they turn vibrant shades of yellow, orange and red.
One of our favourite spots in Victoria Park is Waddell Falls, because for me, there’s always something special about waterfalls. But it’s also an especially pretty spot when framed by the fall colours. There are also plenty of trails through the park, so you can get out and soak up those autumn colours.
Halifax & Dartmouth
You don’t have to leave the city to see some stunning fall colours – there are some great places to see the fall colours in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Point Pleasant Park is always a favourite place to get outside in Halifax, no matter what time of year. And it’s a great place to see the leaves changing colour, as the golden-leaved larch trees turn a bright yellow. The park is also a great place for a hike, with over 39km of trails to explore as well as views across the harbour and toward the Atlantic.
Shubie Park, an urban park in the middle of Dartmouth, is a local favourite all year round. But in the fall, it’s truly spectacular with the changing colours.
There are plenty of trails in Shubie Park but some of the best views (in my opinion) are found on the trails from the main parking lot that lead around the lake. There’s something about the colourful leaves reflecting off the water that just make the fall colours really stand out.
But whichever trail you take though, you’re sure to find some gorgeous fall colours
Just minutes from Downtown Halifax, the Bluff Wilderness Hiking Trail is a fantastic spot to get outdoors and enjoy the fall colours in Nova Scotia. There are several stacked loops so you can choose how long you want to hike for.
For those who want a short hike, the Pot Lake Loop takes about 2-3 hours to complete or you can add on loops to make a longer hike. Along the trail, you’ll have spectacular views of the reds and yellows, as the leaves contrast with the rock face. The views over the lake are pretty spectacular too!
Kejimkujik National Park
Kejimkujik National Park, or Keji as it’s known to locals, is a popular place to visit in the summer, but it’s also a gorgeous place to visit in the fall.
While it’s not on the ocean, there’s still plenty of water at Keji which provides a stunning backdrop for the changing colours.
Hike along the Slapfoot Trail where you’ll have views of the colourful leaves against Kejimkujik Lake, or take the Mills Falls Trail along the Mersey River. For a different viewpoint, rent a canoe at Jakes Landing and take in the fall colours from the water.
Final Thoughts: Best Places to See Fall Colours in Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia in the fall is a great place to be and there are plenty of great spots to see the fall colours, no matter where you are in the province.
While there isn’t an official Nova Scotia leaf watch page, be sure to check #nsleafwatch on IG for some gorgeous photos of the fall colours in Nova Scotia.
Do you have a favourite spot to see the Nova Scotia fall foliage? Let us know in the comments below!
For more inspiration and ideas on travel in Nova Scotia, be sure to check out these posts: