Exploring The National Parks of Southern Ontario

Blog #8: Fall in the Parks

By N. Glenn Perrett

Photos © Lynn and Glenn Perrett

Fall is a wonderful time of year – especially in the national parks where you can enjoy nature with fewer biting insects, compared to spring and summer, and with moderate temperatures. The cool night temperatures combined with sunny days helps to change deciduous forests from green into colours of yellow, gold, orange, red and purple. While trees change colour around the world, Ontario’s autumn colours are second to none. These spectacular colours set amongst the greens of coniferous trees (with the exception of tamaracks that turn a brilliant gold colour in fall before losing their needles) are short lived however so you might want to make arrangements to visit a national park and enjoy the forests when they are dressed in their fall finest!

The reason for the stunning array of colours in the deciduous forests has to do with chlorophyll disappearing from the leaves. Chlorophyll plays a vital role in photosynthesis and it is the pigment in trees that give leaves their green colour. During autumn, photosynthesis stops in deciduous trees as there is not enough available water and light. As a result, the chlorophyll disappears from the leaves allowing the other pigments already in the leaves to become visible.

All six national parks in southern Ontario feature beautiful forests along with numerous trails from which you can enjoy the changing colours. The parks also boast a variety of waterways from which you can enjoy autumn in Ontario.

My wife Lynn and I canoed the Rouge River in Rouge National Urban Park as well as Cyprus Lake in Bruce Peninsula National Park in October. The pleasant temperatures, scarcity of biting insects and scarcity of visitors made for a great day in the parks. We have also enjoyed boating in Georgian Bay Islands National Park and hiking trails on Beausoleil Island when fall colours were putting on an impressive display. We have also walked many of the footpaths in Rouge National Urban Park in autumn.

Fall is also a good time for bird watchers who can observe not only birds who reside in and around the parks, but also those species that migrate through the protected wilderness areas.


N. Glenn Perrett is a writer and environmentalist whose book Southern Ontario's National Parks has just been published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

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