Fall is my favourite time of the year to hit the walking and hiking trails in my area – the trails are less crowded and temperatures are cooler plus there’s the fabulous fall foliage to enjoy!
These are my recommendations for 8 of the best hikes in Halton and Peel Regions to enjoy fall colours – hiking and walking trails where everyone can get out and enjoy the fabulous fall season.
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Hiking and Walking Trails in Halton Region
These are a few of my favourite hiking and walking trails in Halton Region that are great anytime of year but particularly enjoyable when you want to get outside in the fall and enjoy the cooler weather and the changing leaves.
1. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area
Rattlesnake Point, one of eight conservation areas in Halton, is one of my favourite places to hike in the region at any time of the year for the great combination of forest hiking and scenic escarpment views.
There are three trails at Rattlesnake Point – the Buffalo Crag Trail, the Vista Adventure Trail and the Nassagaweya Canyon Trail. My favourite is the 3 kilometre Buffalo Crag Trail which has a lookout where visitors can enjoy incredible views over the escarpment. The views are spectacular when the leaves have changed in the fall!
7200 Appleby Line south of Highway 401 in Milton, Ontario. Reservations recommended but not required. Adult Admission Fee is $10.50 + HST with an advance reservation and $12 + HST at the gate. Reduced admission fees for children and seniors. Admission included with membership.
2. Mount Nemo Conservation Park
Mount Nemo is another of the Halton Conservation Parks which is fun to hike in the fall to enjoy the incredible views of the Niagara Escarpment. The Brock Harris Lookout provides a spectacular view over the escarpment and on a clear day you can even see the CN Tower in the distance! Mount Nemo is also a popular spot for rock climbing so if that’s your jam then you can enjoy leaf peeping from the cliffs of the escarpment!
5317 Guelph Line, Burlington. Reservations recommended but not required. Adult Admission Fee is $10.50 + HST with an advance reservation and $12 + HST at the gate. Reduced admission fees for children and seniors. Admission included with membership.
3. Hilton Falls Conservation Area
Hilton Falls Conservation Area is known for its 10 metre waterfall, however, there are also 33.5 kilometres of colour-coded trails in a series of overlapping loops available for hiking and biking. This is a very popular spot in the fall so it’s better to visit on a weekday if possible to avoid the weekend crowds.
There are several hiking trails at the park but the most popular is the Hilton Falls Trail as it seems that most visitors are there only to view the falls. It’s a 3 km roundtrip looped trail that goes through the forest to the river and waterfalls and is a fairly easy walk. The other trails are just as nice for leaf viewing and they won’t be crowded at all!
4985 Campbellville Road, Milton. Reservations recommended but not required. Adult Admission Fee is $10.50 + HST with an advance reservation and $12 + HST at the gate. Reduced admission fees for children and seniors. Admission included with membership.
4. Crawford Lake Conservation Area
I love visiting Crawford Lake because it boasts several beautiful hiking and walking trails of various difficulties as well as a rare meromictic lake and a recreated Wendat longhouse village to learn about the area’s Indigenous history.
My favourite trails are the Crawford Lake Trail and the Niagara Escarpment Trail. The Crawford Lake Trail is approximately 1 km in length and, as it is mostly on an elevated wooden boardwalk through the woods around the lake, is quite an easy walk. On the way to this trail you will find several beautiful wooden animal sculptures which kids love.
The Niagara Escarpment Trail winds it’s way through the woodlands to a lookout where there’s a spectacular view of the canyon and the Niagara Escarpment that is particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves are changing colour.
3115 Conservation Road, Milton. Reservations recommended but not required. Adult Admission Fee is $10.50 + HST with an advance reservation and $12 + HST at the gate. Reduced admission fees for children and seniors. Admission included with membership.
Hiking and Walking Trails in Peel Region
These are a few of my favourite hiking and walking trails in Peel Region that I have enjoyed during the fall season.
1. Rattray Marsh Conservation Area
Rattray Marsh Conservation Area, a Credit Valley Conservation Park, is located along Mississauga’s Lake Ontario shoreline and only a few minutes drive from our home in Oakville so we head there for a walk quite often.
This beautiful park featuring a shale beach and pedestrian boardwalk overlooking a natural wetland is very popular with birdwatchers. There are several trails which are rated easy making it accessible to most everyone. It’s a great spot to get out and enjoy nature and fall colours – and if you’re lucky you might see wildlife as well!
Rattray Marsh can get crowded on the weekends so visit on a weekday whenever possible or parking might be an issue.
660 Bexhill Road, Mississauga – free parking at Jack Darling Memorial Park, 1180 Lakeshore Road West. Entry is free.
2. The Cheltenham Badlands
The Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon is one of the most unique natural sites that you will find in Ontario and is absolutely gorgeous at the height of the fall leaf peeping season! The rolling red hills and gullies of the badlands is exposed red shale that formed as a result of erosion accelerated by poor farming practices. The land that the site is on was acquired by the Ontario Heritage Trust and is managed by Credit Valley Conservation and the Bruce Trail Conservancy.
You will likely do more looking and taking photos than hiking here but there is a short trail that connects to the viewing platform (visitors can no longer walk on the badlands) and there is also a portion of the Bruce Trail on the site.
There is a time limit of 90 minutes at the Cheltenham Badlands so it’s easy to combine a visit with either Belfountain Conservation Area or Terracotta Conservation Area which are both nearby if you would like more of an outing.
1739 Olde Base Line Road, Caledon. Reservations are not required but recommended due to capacity limits. Same day reservations are not available. Vehicle permit is $11.30 including HST if purchased in advance and $16.95 if purchased at the gate. Fall hours open daily 8am – 7pm.
3. Belfountain Conservation Area
We had a lovely visit exploring Belfountain Conservation Area for the first time last fall. Belfountain is a great option if you’re looking for a pleasant place to spend time in nature but not a particularly challenging hike.
Located on the Niagara Escarpment in the valley of the Credit River, Belfountain has several short trails to enjoy – two which are rated easy and two which are more difficult – as well as some accessible paths. There are some metal stairs with grates that are designed to make the trail surface less slippery but aren’t suitable for walking with a dog.
The highlight of the visit is the beautiful waterfall which you can appreciate from the suspension bridge that stretches over the river. The bridge was originally built in 1908 and provides incredible views of the conservation area. My fear of heights made me a little nervous about the suspension bridge but I did walk across it – I just didn’t linger long!
There is a lovely fountain, a heritage feature of the property, that was restored as part of the park’s 2021 restoration project. The fountain which was originally installed by Charles Mack in the early 1900s has a bell on top to honour the nearby town of Belfountain. Be sure to also take a photo with Lucky the Fox who sits at one of the lookouts on the Riverside Trail. Lucky pays homage to the park’s groundskeeper when it was owned by Mack early in the 1900s.
819 Forks of the Credit Road, Caledon. Reservations not required but recommended due to limited parking capacity. Visit is currently limited to 2 hours. Open 7 days a week 8am – 7pm seasonally – end of April to end of October. There is a vehicle permit fee for parking and also a per person admission fee. General Admission Entry Fee: Adult $7 including HST (reduced fees for children and seniors). Admission is free with a CVC membership. Vehicle Permit $11.30 at gate (space permitting) and $5.65 if reserved in advance. Same day reservations are not available.
4. The Riverwood Conservancy
The Riverwood Conservancy is another site that we visited and enjoyed for the first time last fall. This 150 acre property, located in the heart of Mississauga and co-owned by the City of Mississauga and Credit Valley Conservation, is an urban nature preserve situated on the shores of the Credit River that offers a variety of programs and events designed to connect people with nature.
The site has self-guided walking trails through the woodlands and along the river and there are guided walks led by naturalists available as well. We had an enjoyable walk through the trail system towards the end of October last year so were a bit late for peak foliage. I plan to return this year a little earlier in the season to see more leaves on the trees than the ground!
The Riverwood Conservancy also has lovely public gardens that are beautiful in the fall and enjoyable to stroll either before or after a trail walk.
Riverwood is considered one of the most diverse ecosystems in the Credit River watershed – a great place to connect with nature for everyone as it is easy to access by public transit and free to visit!
Entrance is at the corner of Burnhamthorpe Road and Riverwood Park Lane. Open daily from 7am – 11pm. Park admission and parking are free. There is a fee for programs and guided tours.
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