Best places to view the Fall colours on the Rideau Canal

The peak season for Fall colours in Ontario is October and one of the best ways to take in the beauty of the Autumn season is to travel down the UNESCO World Heritage Rideau Canal in your own houseboat. You can enjoy canopied canals or get out and stretch your legs at the many parks, trails, and scenic lookouts along the way!

Don’t worry there’s still time to see this natural spectacle, the Le Boat season doesn’t end until October 11, 2021, and we have a list of all the best places to take in the beauty.

Sand Lake Rideau Canal

Photo Credit: Ken Watson

Ottawa: Major's Hill Park

Major's Hill Park

Featuring some of the best lookouts in Ottawa, Major’s Hill Park offers stunning views of the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River, and the Parliament Buildings. Just steps away from Ottawa’s ByWard Market, the Park is a beautiful Fall retreat, with pristine lawns, rolling pathways and grand trees. You can also tour its cultural and historical buildings and read interpretive panels as if you are in an outdoor museum.  

Photo Credit: Parks Canada

Ottawa River Pathway

Ottawa River Pathway

After Major’s Hill Park, why not go for a walk down the Ottawa River Pathway? Starting from Major’s Hill Park, you can either travel east or west along Ottawa’s riverfront. The path is open from April to November and offers fantastic Fall views of the city.

Dow's Lake: The Dominion Arboretum

Dow's Lake

Next to Dow’s Lake and part of the Central Experimental Farm is the Dominion Arboretum, a free attraction that is open from dawn to dusk. This magnificent collections of trees and shrubs covers about 86 acres of land. From here you can al see incredible views of the city, on the south-east side you can see the Rideau Canal and from the north-east side you can overlook Dow’s Lake and the surrounding city.

Photo Credit: R. Hinchcliff

Long Island Lockstation: Chapman Mills Conservation Area

Chapman Mills Conservation Area

Located in the village of Manotick, Chapman Mills Conservations Area features boardwalks, natural shoreline and over 20 acres of conservation! You can also stop by Manotick Mill and see it surrounded by Fall colours and from there you can visit nearby cafes and shops.

Photo Credit: Rideau Valley Conservation Authority

Cruising to Poonamalie Lockstation

Cruising to Poonamalie Lockstation

Travelling from our base at Smiths Falls to the south, you will follow the buoys to the very narrow cruising grounds near Poonamalie Lockstation. Here you will be shrouded in the Fall colours as you make your way through this heavily treed region.

Westport: Foley Mountain Conservation Area

Foley Mountain Conservation Area

High atop a granite ridge overlooking the historic Upper Rideau waterway and Village of Westport is Foley Mountain. For a $7 day pass you can enjoy the scenic lookout of Spy Rock, 10km of hiking trails and picnic areas.

Photo Credit Rideau Valley Conservation Authority

Chaffey's Lock: Cataraqui Trail

Cataraqui Trail

Chaffey’s Lock is a recommended stop for the Fall colours and on Thanksgiving Weekend (Oct 9-11) the Lockmasters House Museum is usually open (with hot cider available). From Chaffey’s Lock you can explore the Cataraqui Trail as it crosses over the old 1912 railway bridge. The section near Chaffey's Lock is arguably the most scenic part of this trail.

Photo Credit: R. Ludlow

Jones Falls: Rock Dunder Lookout

Rock Dunder Lookout

Also owned by the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, Rock Dunder near Morton offers stunning summit views of the colourful treetops and the canal. The trails here are open until November and do require a Day Pass to access. You can buy a single pass for $5.00 or a group pass (3-6 people) for $15.00 and children under 6 are free. Passes can be purchased online ahead of time here.

Photo Credit: Rideau Waterway Land Trust

Kingston: Fort Henry

Fort Henry Kingston

The historic site of Fort Henry is located on Point Henry in Kingston, an elevated point next to the mouth of Cataraqui River before it flows into the St. Lawrence River at the east end of Lake Ontario. At this UNESCO World heritage site, you can go on guided tours, take in performances and military demonstrations and experience scenic views of the city. See the Fall colours in the evening as the sun is setting. If you are visiting between Oct. 1-17, stay from 7-10pm to experience the special event Pumpkinferno, a spectacular outdoor experience of glowing pumpkins inside the walls of this historic site. Make sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time here.

Photo Credit: Parks Canada

Rideau Canal lock

This Autumn, discover the beauty of the Rideau Canal, Ontario, Canada on your last minute houseboat holiday

Photo Credit: Parks Canada