An Insider’s Guide to Viewing Ottawa’s Best Fall Foliage

Even though summer is officially over, don’t get the winter woes just yet! We’re heading into what many people consider the most beautiful season of the year in Ottawa – FALL! It’s time to grab a hot chocolate and head out for a “leaf-peeping” stroll in one of the city’s spectacular parks, but what parks you may ask? Whether you live in Ottawa or are visitors to our beautiful city, I’ve come up with this guide to help you see the most of Ottawa’s stunning fall foliage.

The Aboretum

Located in the Central Experimental Farm, the Aboretum is home to more than 2,000 species of trees and shrubs and covers about 64 acres of rolling terrain between Prince of Wales Drive and the Rideau Canal. With so many species of trees including many varieties of maple, birch and oak, you will not believe the fabulous display of colours each fall. There is a handy guide to help you find the particular species of tree you’d like to see in all its fall glory. I’ve also mentioned the Aboretum in a previous blog about the Top Spots in Ottawa for a Summer Picnic. No matter what the season, the Aboretum is a true Ottawa gem that is open every day from sunrise to sunset and is free of charge.

Gatineau Park

Located just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa- Gatineau, this year-round park offers some of the best viewpoints from which to take in the beauty of fall. Although the entire park is impressive with its fall colours, there are certain lookouts that I guarantee will take your breath away. Be sure to check out Eardley Escarpment, where you can view the eastern red cedar – a particularly rare species of tree for Quebec that can live up to 400 years. Other notable leaf-peeping viewpoints in the park are Champlain Lookout and Pink Lake. While checking out autumn in Gatineau Park, don’t forget your hiking shoes or your bike – you’ll be sorry if you do!

Rideau Falls Park

Located in the heart of Ottawa and within walking distance to Parliament Hill and Byward Market, Rideau Falls Park is known as the meeting place of the Ottawa River and the Rideau River which is seen via twin waterfalls. This lesser known park offers spectacular views of Ottawa’s waterways, the city of Gatineau and, of course, the spectacular fall scenery along the rivers. While taking in the natural beauty of the park, you can also visit several commemorations including the National Artillery Monument, the Mackenzie-Papineau Monument and the Commonwealth Air Force Memorial.

Mer Bleue

Located in Ottawa’s Greenbelt area, Mer Bleue is a conservation area that is home to a 7,700-year-old bog that hosts regionally rare and specific plants, birds and other wildlife. Popular for hiking and bird watching in the summer and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter (there are over 20 kilometres of trails to explore), Mer Bleue also attracts those wishing to get a glimpse of the changing of the seasons from summer to fall. Don’t be surprised to see photographers catching the beauty of the bog with their cameras when fall foliage is at its best.

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