North Bay’s Best Fall Hikes

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Fall, Outdoor Adventure

A welcome cool crisp air has settled over North Bay, Ontario and with it the change to another spectacular season marked by a kaleidoscope of colour, cozy knits and delicious harvest fare to warm the belly.  

North Bay sits in the transition between the Northern boreal forest and southern Ontario’s deciduous forest. This means a diversity of tree types and a full palette of colour in autumn presented on North Bay’s living masterpiece: the 70-meter escarpment that wraps around the city centre. Before you go, check Ontario Parks’ fall colour report for a barometer of the colour change and percentage leaf drop in the area around North Bay. Restoule, Mikisew and Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park are the fabulous local parks to check.

Education Centre Trails – Photo Credit: Ontario Tourism

Grab a fresh roasted, fair-trade, organic latte from Twiggs Coffee Roasters and hit the trails at the Education Centre. The parking lot on Highway 17 gets you close to the stunning Duchesnay Falls where you can soak up some positive energy while you sip on that delicious latte.

Laurentian Escarpment Conservation Area trails-  Photo Credit: Skye McCourt

The yellow hues and rustling leaves of the poplar trees at the Laurentian Escarpment Conservation Area trails have a mystical feel during a light rain when the mist rises. Start your hike from Laurentian Ski Hill’s parking lot at the top of the hill for stunning views of the city, Lake Nipissing and Trout Lake along the McNutt Family Trail. On your way back down the escarpment stop at Ivan’s Restaurant for a hearty harvest soup of the day. Ivan’s is a North Bay tradition since 1945 and make a mean milkshake too!

Otter Lake Photo credit: Discovery Routes

The Otter Lake Recreation Area offers a quiet solitary hike through the forest a 15 minute drive from downtown. Pack your backpack with a fresh loaf of sourdough bread from The Culture Club or a fresh treat from Cobs Bread Bakery to savour on the shore of Otter Lake where the colours reflect beautifully in the calm waters. Cell reception is intermittent on the trail – just the way we like it. 

Cranberry bog at the Cranberry Trail – Photo credit: Discovery Routes

Bring your rubber boots to the Cranberry Trail and venture out into the cranberry bog to see if you can find some wild cranberries. FYI – They begin to ripen after a few heavy frosts. The Municipality of Callander celebrates Cranberry Day in early October each year with family-friendly activities and tons of cranberry treats. The flaming red hues of the sumac that line parts of the trail are especially stunning in the fall.

The south end of the Kate Pace Way is an easy walk on level pavement making it great for strollers and those who like to stroll. Watch for the distinct clusters of the high bush cranberry along the trail. Just down the road The Crown and Beaver Pub on Lakeshore Drive serves up some ridiculously scrumptious burgers and a pretty amazing mac & cheese.

La Vase Portages Conservation Area hiking trails – Photo credit: Discovery Routes

Head up Highway 11 North to the Black Forest Trail to hike amongst the towering red pines. The blanket of pine needles on the forest floor are a beautiful backdrop for your fall family photos. La Vase Portages Conservation Area hiking trails are a lesser known network of trails on the outskirts of North Bay accessed off Highway 17. The land trails follow the La Vase Portages connecting Trout Lake to Lake Nipissing and used for thousands of years by our ancestors that didn’t have the privilege of alternative pathways!

Laurier Woods Conservation Area – Photo credit: Northeastern Ontario Tourism

A late fall hike at family-friendly Laurier Woods Conservation Area is the place to see the active beaver colony busying for winter collecting and storing food. The tamarack trees display their golden glow in late fall and the cattails reach their height along the boardwalks.  The Orange Trail takes you to all the best sights with a quick side trip on the Purple Trail to the beautiful Michael’s bridge to watch the turtles sunning on the logs before they burrow deep into the bottom of the pond to hibernate for the winter. A harvest inspired pizza from Arugula made fresh in their wood-fired oven is the perfect end to an afternoon on the trails.

Michael’s Bridge at Laurier Woods – Photo credit: Discovery Routes

You’ll need more than a day to explore Northern Ontario’s most colourful season. Cozy up at one of the North Bay’s quaint and comfortable hotels that you can find through Tourism North Bay accommodation search. Local tip – Hampton Inn has great views of the escarpment!

About Jennifer McCourt

Jennifer McCourt is the Executive Director of Discovery Routes, a trails and cycling advocacy organization based in North Bay. She lives in Callander, Ontario and is always keen to explore and discover new trails with her family.

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