Cold nights produce the fall colours in the leaves- and the temperature drops
3 degrees C for every 304.8 metres you rise.
I know that about temperature from my years as a glider pilot. Many a fall day, I’ve steamed on the ground and found my teeth chattering a few thousand feet up. (Aviation still uses “feet,” not metres, to measure altitude.)
So now that fall colours season is upon us, make the most of your fall colour drives. Start where the chances are best that you’ll find the splendor you want.
Your best bet is to start out early in the morning so that you can catch all the glory of fall colours before the sun goes down. Also, you’ll be able to enjoy a full day of fall colours without having to drive home in the dark.
The Ontario Tourism Travel Information North of Toronto publishes updates every week. It also lists fall colours drives, parks information, and lots of leads to inns, studio tours, farmers’ markets and events.
The Forks of the Credit – close, and higher than the highest point in Toronto
At 390 metres above sea level, Belfountain caps one of the most beautiful drives in southern Ontario – Forks of the Credit Road. Fall colours at Belfountain have a tiny head start over those at the 209 meters of Toronto’s highest point – the Steeles Avenue and Keele Street intersection. But it’s arguably a way more beautiful drive.
The easiest way to get to Belfountain is to take Highway 10 north toward Orangeville and turn onto Forks of the Credit Road. Belfountain is about an hour from Toronto.
Belfountain is a charming hamlet with an old-fashioned general store at its heart. The Credit River is across the road – and parallels the Forks of the Credit Road most of the way from Highway 10.
The hilly, winding Forks of the Credit Road attracts fall colors fans and driving enthusiasts from all over. It also attracts the cops, so really, really obey the speed limits.
There’s plenty of good eating within about 20 kilometers.
Devil’s Glen – a little farther, higher, more fall colours, sooner
The ski hills at the private Devil’s Glen Country Club top out at 510 meters and their base is only 90 meters lower, so you can be sure there’ll be plenty of glorious reds, yellows and oranges to welcome you.
The route up from Toronto runs through two lovely towns, Orangeville and Shelburne. Orangeville is a little over an hour out of town, so it might make a great lunch stop.
The Creemore Springs Brewery is almost around the corner from Devil’s Glen. You can tour the brewery and enjoy some free samples, 7 days a week from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., with tours on the hour.
Choose your reds on the trees or in the bottle on a Niagara Wine Country drive
To my surprise, the hamlet of Jordan Village, atop the Niagara Escarpment near Niagara-on-the-Lake, is lower than Toronto’s Steels and Keele intersection! So it’s probably a good idea to save this fall colours drive until a little later in the season. Less altitude and the moderating warmth of Lake Ontario (that makes for a great wine region) should delay the fall colours a little.
Just take the QEW towards Niagara and peel off at Exit 55. Follow the signs up the Escarpment and you’ll find yourself in the Twenty Bench area of Niagara Wine Country.
There’s a real difference between the wines made from grapes grown on the Escarpment, compared with those from wineries on the flat plain along Lake Ontario and the Niagara River. Discovering the difference can only add to the pleasure of your fall colours drive.
To enjoy colours on canvas, clay, fabric and paper, as well as on trees,
try a studio tour
The 400 Eleven website has long list of fall studio tours. Some will have taken place already, but there are others than run well into October. They make another great reason for a fall colours drive in Southern Ontario.
A fall colours drive make a great day for sons, daughters and seniors.
I’d be delighted to share a couple of hours driving through fall colours with my own kids and their spouses. It’s a great way to take the driving load off any one person. And if the tour goes into the dark evening, the younger folks probably can handle the driving a little more easily.
Why not give it a shot? Just one piece of advice: Stop frequently and change seats, so that everyone gets a panoramic view of the fall colours through the windshield and the side windows.