Whoever said that modesty is a virtue has probably never experienced the wonder of autumn. With all that colour, fall is anything but modest. Here in York Durham Headwaters, we’re not too shy to show off what we’ve got. After all, Ontario is known around the world for its beautiful expanses of parks, trails and natural spaces. At this time of the year, all that dense green summer foliage transforms into a canopy of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows that you simply have to see to believe. Have you ever smelled fall leaves? Actually breathed them in as you’re surrounded by them from above and below? Trust us—they have an indescribable scent. That is why we cordially invite you to enjoy all that the autumn season has to offer in YDH as you bike, hike, stroll and enjoy our parks and trails. Not sure where to go for your fall adventure? Here are our top picks and suggestions for experiencing Ontario’s amazing colours.
That being said, this year has presented us with quite a challenge. COVID-19 has arrived on our collective doorstep, which has required all of us to adapt to a new way of enjoying our outdoor spaces so we can keep ourselves and each other safe. You may think you don’t need to worry about health and safety regulations at a public park, but with so many people wanting to experience our natural spaces, there are some key things you need to know before you visit. Let’s all be responsible citizens and do our part to keep York Durham Headwaters a destination of reduced risk.
A note on responsible trail and park usage
We are counting on you to be responsible when enjoying our outdoor public places. This means continuing to follow all of the public health advice which includes:
- physical distancing from others by at least two metres
- wearing a face covering when physical distancing may be challenging or not possible
- washing hands regularly with soap and water or using alcohol-based sanitizer where soap and water are not available
- getting tested if you worry you have COVID-19, or if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
This is especially important in parks and on trails, where the likelihood of public interaction at places like water taps, washrooms and trail pinch points increases. If you haven’t seen our post on this, called Trail Etiquette for COVID-19—What You Need to Know, we encourage you to check it out. We’ve put together lots of tips and best practices for a successful and safe visit to our trails and parks. First and foremost, your successful visit begins with planning ahead. Not all parks have opened yet, not all amenities may be open for those parks that have, and different municipalities may have different rules for visiting.
Planning ahead is the best way to view our fall colours responsibly.
Ontario Parks wants you to experience all the wonderful open spaces we have in this province, and has made promoting the use of our provincial parks in a safe and respectful manner a priority this year. Katrina Greenfield, Learn to Camp program coordinator for Ontario Parks, reminds us that “Ministry officials are present in provincial parks to provide information, assist with emergencies, and enforce provincial park rules and regulations. Additionally, these areas may be patrolled by local police or other enforcement agencies.”
YDH’s top picks for fall colours
So you’ve read our etiquette guide, and you’ve planned your fall colour adventure in one of our parks. Now you’re ready and excited to get out there and start exploring! For some ideas on where to go and what to do, here are a few of our top picks. But please: this list is by no means exhaustive. We’ve got so many great places to experience autumn in YDH, so don’t forget to browse our website for more destinations and inspiration.
Kortright Centre for Conservation
9550 Pine Valley Dr., Woodbridge
- Take a self-guided walk in Kortright’s beautiful mixed hardwood forests to view the fall colours at their best, and join the Kortright Education Team at the campfire to learn about nature in the fall. This ticketed event is being hosted all weekends in October. Tickets can be purchased online at https://kortright.org/event/fall-colours-celebration-2020.
Black Creek Pioneer Village
1000 Murray Ross Parkway, North York
- Nothing brings to mind those vibrant fall colours like Thanksgiving. Black Creek Pioneer Village invites you to enjoy beautiful autumn hues as you stroll back in time through this pioneer village. With activities for the whole family, you can truly celebrate the harvest season the old-fashioned way. Plans for the harvest-themed weekend are still underway, so visit https://blackcreek.ca/event/thanksgiving-at-the-village-2020/ for details as they become available.
Rogers Reservoir Conservation Area
2nd Concession Rd., East Gwillimbury
- Birders, photographers and wildlife lovers will have no shortage of autumn activity in this 84-hectare preserve. For hikers, joggers and cyclists, you’ll love the 4-kilometre gravel trail. And just in time for Halloween, don’t miss the remnants of the “Ghost” Canal System project, which was abandoned in the early 1900s. For more information and safety precautions, visit https://www.lsrca.on.ca/Pages/Rogers-Reservoir.aspx.
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
26071 Park Rd., Jackson’s Point
- This Ontario park is a spectacular place to experience fall. With hiking trails and a large, sandy beach on Lake Simcoe, it is perfect for families and those looking for moderate activity. Don’t miss the Sibbald Point Loop Trail, a 1.8-kilometer loop trail that features a beautiful forest setting and a number of activity options. For more information and safety precautions, visit https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/sibbaldpoint.
Other great parks and trails for fall colours in YDH
Story by Katherine Ryalen