The prettiest autumn getaway.
Witnessing summer's deep greens change into an explosion of red, orange and yellow is one of the many perks of living in Ontario. There are plenty of places across the province that are perfect for watching the leaves change, but if you want to experience the season's vibrancy in new and exciting ways, consider looking north of the GTA.
The region of Sault Ste. Marie (also affectionately known as "the Soo") is one of Canada's top five locations for fall foliage, according to Forbes. Think of a place where maple forests turn cozy shades of red, where you can lose yourself in the coast's orange and yellow splendour, and where the vast multicolour landscape takes your breath away — this is Sault Ste. Marie in the fall.
But the Soo is more than just a pretty face. On top of being a magical spot in autumn, Sault Ste. Marie — which is just a one-hour plane ride or six-hour scenic drive north of the GTA — is one of Ontario's most exciting outdoor adventure destinations.
From new bike trails and canoe tours to modern microbreweries, there are so many fun and unique ways to explore Sault Ste. Marie's fall colours and these seven spots will give you an idea of what awaits. Bring on that sweater weather!
Hike Robertson Cliffs With An Interpretive Guide
Address: Robertson Cliffs, Algoma Region, ON
Why You Need To Go: Enjoyed by many visitors every year, this challenging hike is just 20 minutes north of the Soo. There are just over four kilometres of eye-catching landscape to discover on this trail, which is situated on the cliffs of the Algoma Region.
You can walk the whole loop and discover a breathtaking waterfall along the way, or you can hike directly up the cliffs to overlook the vibrant boreal forest. You can totally tackle this hike by yourself or you can take a guided tour with Forest the Canoe or Blaq Bear instead.
Explore Fort Creek Conservation Area
Address: Fort Creek Conservation Area, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Why You Need To Go: Fort Creek Conservation Area is one of Sault Ste. Marie's best-kept secrets. This is the place to be in autumn, where red and orange leaves create a cozy atmosphere.
The Hub Trail is a multi-use trail that circles the Soo, but the Fort Creek section is especially beautiful. You might even spot some beavers on this family-friendly and wheelchair-accessible route. If you'd rather kick back and soak up the nature vibes, you can eat a leisurely lunch at the sheltered picnic area.
Hike Or Bike Around The Hiawatha Highlands
Price: Free in fall
Address: 780 Landslide Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Why You Need To Go: Say hello to Hiawatha, a favoured local destination filled with wooded trails that make for a serene autumn outing.
Though it's a highly regarded location for winter sports, the Hiawatha Highlands is beautiful all year round. It's full of nature trails and waterfalls that look enchanting come fall time. Grab your bike or take a hike through the hundreds of hectares of forests with creeks, lakes and wetlands.
Cruise The Breathtaking Superior Coast
Address: From Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, ON
Why You Need To Go: The Lake Superior Shoreline Tour is one of the best road-trip routes in the province. On this eight-hour drive that connects the Soo to Thunder Bay, you'll pass through a handful of Ontario's best provincial parks.
There are plenty of places to stop and soak up the scenery which includes plenty of wildlife, stunning waterfalls, rocky cliffs and picturesque beaches.
Enjoy The View With Craft Beer & Local Eats
Address: 350 Queen St. E. (Outspoken) & 50 Pim St. (Northern Superior Brewing), Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Why You Need To Go: Nothing calls for a refreshing craft beer and good, comforting food like a day full of exploring in the crisp fall air. Sault Ste. Marie has no shortage of top-notch, family-owned restaurants offering the best local eats to help you refuel.
Take A Canoe Trip Around Sault Ste. Marie's Rivers & Lakes
Price: Free (kayak and canoe hire available for various prices)
Address: St Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
Why You Need To Go: The Soo is located on St. Marys River, which connects two of the country's largest lakes, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. It's little surprise that paddlers love visiting these popular and picturesque waters.
If you're not expert enough to take on the waters alone, you can sign yourself up for a tour with Indigenous-owned and -operated Thrive Tours, where expert guides will help you reconnect with nature through guided canoe and kayak experiences. They also offer hiking, snowshoeing and year-round camping.
The region's other tour companies, like Forest The Canoe, also offer canoe rentals and overnight guided camping trips.
Experience Sault Ste. Marie's Fall Festivals & Events
Why You Need To Go: Events are slowly making their way back onto the scene after being halted by the pandemic. This fall, visitors to Sault Ste. Marie will have the pleasure of enjoying the return of Bushplane Days from September 18-19, Nerd Con from October 2-3 and Thomson Farm's pumpkin-themed festivities every October weekend.
If you're competitive, you can check out DU283 on September 6 (a run-bike-run race to raise money for local mental health services) and Ultra Trail Stokely Creek (a trail race through the rugged Canadian backcountry) from September 17-18.
Other festivals making a comeback include the Algoma Fall Festival, Oktoberfest, and Batchewana Pow Wow. You can stay up to date with fall events on Sault Ste. Marie's website.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Sault Ste. Marie. No matter where you lose yourself in the spectacular fall colours, you'll find great places to stay and delicious things to eat to help you refuel while you adventure around the Soo.
Get your coziest plaid jacket on, grab yourself a pumpkin-spice latte (Scott Coffee has one of the best in town) and hit the road. It's time to take advantage of this glorious season in Sault Ste. Marie.
To learn more about autumn adventures in Sault Ste. Marie, visit their website or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.