Fall Travels Around Orillia

Parks  ◘ Scenic Drives  ◘ Nature Areas  ◘ Island Princess  ◘ Winter Fun   

The areas outside Orillia are some of the most beautiful scenes you will come across during the fall and autumn season. The colours are spectacular with a multitude of reds, russets, oranges and yellows mixed in with many of the conifer trees, which retain their greens even in winter months.

From the harbour area (Port of Orillia) at the foot of Orillia's downtown to the countryside just five minutes outside of Orillia's borders, there is almost nothing more pleasing than taking a fall drive to see the "colours". Although we often drive these country roads in other seasons, autumn is one of the most beautiful times to go.  To follow one of our country routes through the surrounding countryside in fall, see this page - there is a printable map, and descriptions of what you'll see in various areas.

In winter, if you can catch the day at the right time, this same drive can be a wonderland of sparkling white snow covering the firs, and clinging to the bare branches of the deciduous trees, filling the forest floors with a covering of pure white. The best time is morning - early enough that the sun is shining, but hasn't yet melted the overnight snows from the branches of the trees, forming a tunnel shrouded in fluffy white. A perfect winter day to drive these routes is one with blue skies, bright sunshine and a fresh new coating of snow. For those who enjoy night photography, a winter drive in the evening hours can produce some spectacular imagery, so if you are skilled with night photography, don't rule out a cold, sharply cold night drive. Eventually, I hope to be able to show you a different route for winter splendor, but for the moment, the fall drive map linked above also works for winter.

©J. Gracey Stinson, all rights reserved.
©J. Gracey Stinson, all rights reserved.
There are some organizations in and around Orillia that offer fall tours by bus and vans to see the most popular areas in autumn. Orillia Boat Tours (via the Island Princess) offers a fall colour cruise (if you haven't ever done this it's a wonderful way to see the local colour from the water) and Lake Country Airways offers a fall colour tour from the air. But the most popular tours end up being by bus (or by driving your own car) and to find these at the appropriate season, one must pay attention to the advertisements in the local newspaper (The Orillia Packet).  This is because the groups organizing and running these tours vary from year to year, and rent a motorcoach in order to facilitate the tours, so if you prefer a leisurely trip where you can just gawk out the window and the stunning colours and beautiful countryside, you'll need to begin checking The Packet early in the season, from the end of August onwards.

If you would rather drive yourself (particularly good for photographers who like to explore areas that intrigue them), then you need a good map of the townships, towns and hamlets that surround the Orillia area:

Ramara Township (.pdf) - Map
Oro Medonte Township (website) - Multiple Maps
Severn Township (.pdf) - Map
Severn Township (website) - Interactive Maps

©J. Gracey Stinson, all rights reserved
Heading north from Orillia you'll want to stop in areas like Washago, Ardtrea, Coopers Falls, Severn Bridge,  Kilworthy, Gravenhurst and Muskoka Falls. All of these areas can be accessed directly by heading north along Highway 11 and stopping at your own pace in the places that look most promising. As you move towards Gravenhurst from Orillia, you'll be entering the area knows as "The Muskokas" which is a cottage destination for many. Continuing on along Highway 11 you'll pass the Muskoka Airport, come across Muskoka Falls, and eventually reach Bracebridge. The gateway to the north. Leaving Bracebridge, Port Sydney, Huntsville, and carrying on along Highway 11 you'll hit the edge of Arrowhead Provincial Park (popular vaction park and hiking grounds) before you come to smaller hamlets like Novar, Emsdale and Burks Falls (worth a stop to see the falls here). Further north you'll be entering the "real" northern parts of Ontario, running across many small towns, villages, and hamlets (Stirling Falls, South River, Trout Creek). Undertaking the entire route is not a day trip - this distance is is quite long, and when you take into account the length of time you may spend at each place you decide to stop, you may find yourself spending a night or two enroute.

Travel Map Hwy 11

©J. Gracey Stinson, all rights reserved.