In many places across Canada, the fall colours are peaking right now. And you don’t even need to leave where you live to take in the show of the changing leaves ― good news for families staying home more and hoping to avoid big crowds, as COVID-19 cases rise again.
Visiting urban forests is a great opportunity to breathe in fresh air, get some exercise, and see the faces of humans who are not in your immediate bubble ― even though it’s still necessary to follow the six-foot-apart rule, in parks and on trails.
This fall, many Canadians have been enjoying blue skies and warm weather. Let’s hope that’s what’s in store for Thanksgiving 2020, so we can all get outdoors and take advantage of nature’s most colourful display.
Here are some of our favourite urban leaf-peeping spots across the country’s major cities:
It’s hard to believe you’re in Greater Toronto when you’re exploring the forest trails of Rouge National Park. The park opened in 2015 and is still expanding in the Toronto, Scarborough and Pickering areas.
Bringing kids? Pick up a Club Parka booklet or download it from the Parks Canada website, so you can learn about the park’s wildlife. To date, 44 species of mammals, 73 species of fish, 247 species of birds, and 27 amphibian and reptile species have been identified in this urban oasis. Bring binoculars!
Mount Royal Park was designed by the landscape architect behind New York’s Central Park, Frederick Olmstead, on a hill overlooking the city of Montreal. While you’re getting the most incredible city views from the lookouts and exploring the winding trails, by bike or on foot, be sure to stop off at Beaver Lake, where you the kids can feed the ducks and revel in the likes of this golden tree.
In the heart of Vancouver, and on the edge of English Bay, you can take in the fall colours at Stanley Park. Walk, rollerblade or cycle along the seawall to get some of the most fiery views. Be sure to take the kids to see the First Nations totem poles, once they’re done playing in the leaf piles.
(Photo: Dr. Sabbir Ahmad)
Calgarian kids will have a blast at Prince’s Island Park at this time of year. As well as admiring the fall colours, against the backdrop of downtown Calgary and the Bow River, families can learn all about the wetlands and wildlife conservation at the Chevron Learning Path. Help the kids identify birds such as bald eagles, ospreys and magpies, and animals such as jackrabbits, muskrats, and beavers ― this city park is teeming with wildlife.
Between Ottawa and Kingston, Ont., you can take in the glory of the fall colours from a boat, cycle path or walking trail at the Rideau Canal. Nature lovers should look out for deer, ducks, Canada geese and other critters in these parts.
Fishing, kayaking and hiking are all fun activities to enjoy with the kids at Shubie Park, in Dartmouth, NS, on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour. There are more than 9 km of wooded walking trails, and walking there when the leaves are changing colour is a magical experience.
A popular destination for Edmontonians to capture the fall colours is Terwilleger Footbridge, in Terwilleger Park. Kids will love running across this 262-metre bridge over the North Saskatchewan River, and family dogs can frolic in the leaves in the expansive off-leash zone.
At Beaver Creek Conservation Area in Saskatoon, kids will not just see the gorgeous reds, oranges, yellows, purples and browns of autumn in the forests, prairies, valley and creek habitats, they’ll be able to get up close with nature and feed friendly chickadees by hand.
Families living in St John’s don’t need to go far to take in the glorious colours of the season. The Atlantic Coast city ― a riot of colour in its own right, with its “Jellybean Row” houses ― is built on a hill, so the views of the trees in fall are just spectacular from a downtown vantage point.
Wrap up warm, this long weekend, and make the most of Canada’s most colourful urban scenes!
WATCH: The fall colours in Quebec are just spectacular this year.