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Mer Bleue. Photo: Hannah Manning

Check out the many ways to enjoy the fall colours in the Capital

By Hannah Manning on October 13, 2021





It’s unbe-leaf-able how gorgeous Ottawa is in the fall. It feels like overnight the city has turned a beautiful golden red hue. Fall foliage photos are sprouting up all over my Instagram feed and with winter on the horizon, there’s no time like the present to go enjoy fall. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few favourite spots to check out.

Gatineau Park

The obvious choice, for good reason. Gatineau Park is one of the busiest spots in the region each fall, so plan ahead to make your trip worthwhile. Note that roadways are closed to cars until noon each day to allow for active users. On weekends, you can take the free shuttle to enjoy the Fall Rhapsody. The National Capital Commission tracks the fall colours via their Colour Meter and posts regular updates on Instagram. Check out this video from the 613TV crew taking the shuttle back in 2019.

Rideau Hall

Fall at Rideau Hall. Photo: Hannah Manning

Rideau Hall is home to more than 150 trees planted by members of the Royal Family, visiting heads of state, and other dignitaries. Download a self-guided tour brochure or take part in a guided tour (available on weekends from 9am–4pm until Oct. 24). The grounds of Rideau Hall are open daily from 8am to one hour before sunset. Visit their website for the latest information, including parking and any schedule changes. Note that the grounds are currently only accessible via the main gate located on Sussex Drive at the roundabout.

Rideau Canal and Major’s Hill Park


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Thanksgiving weekend marks the end of the Rideau Canal boating season, but there are still plenty of gorgeous trees along the pathway that are worth a peek. Start your tour in Major’s Hill Park and wander behind the Chateau Laurier to the Rideau Canal pathway. Cross over at the Corkstown Bridge or the Flora Footbridge and enjoy the return trip. Pro tip: Stop in at Tavern on the Hill or the newly opened Tavern at the Gallery for a drink and snack.

Dominion Arboretum, Central Experimental Farm and Hog’s Back Falls


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While the Arboretum is a well-known and much loved spot in the spring, the Experimental Farm is a great spot for a fall visit. You can pop into the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum while you’re there. If a farming experience isn’t your speed, you can head to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, which is a great spot to enjoy some fall birdwatching, by the way!

While this route might not have the same impressive colours as Gatineau Park or Rideau Hall, you’re less likely to encounter big crowds. You’re also just a short trip away from Hog’s Back Falls.

613 Geotours

Apt613 contributor Bruce Burwell has an excellent series called 613 Geotours with a whole list of alternatives to Gatineau Park for leafy views. Highlights include Mer BleuePetrie Island, the Erotic Erratic, and day trips to Parc Omega or Chateau Montebello. Don’t miss his bonus tip to head to a local sugar shack. Those maple trees we love for their sugary syrup are also worth a visit in the fall!

When adventuring out to enjoy the fall foliage, be sure to check the weather, dress accordingly, and respect local health measures. Tag @apt613 in your photos and let us know which of your favourite spots we’ve missed!