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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blazing colours of fall leaves: Summer we hardly knew ye



   One-Tank Trip for Sept. 24-16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   With the passing of those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, the fall season is a colourful one with plenty of sightseeing opportunities.
   The Muskoka tourist region is one of the top places to view the onset of fall – with its vivid colourful palette of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and golds throughout the lakeside forests.
   As one of the hottest and driest summers in history, southern Ontario could see a shorter and less vivid season, said David Phillips, Environment Canada senior climatologist.
Midland Tours offers boat cruises to see the fall colours on the Trent-Severn Waterway including Big Chute Marine Railway. (Jim Fox photo)
   The weather conditions will likely result in the leaves “falling earlier because they have had to endure a little more stress than usual,” said Jordan Mulligan of Muskoka Tourism.
   At mid-week, there was about a 15-per-cent colour change but things happen quickly as the season reaches its peak around Thanksgiving to mid-October, he added.


   Out on the water
   There are many ways to experience the Muskoka fall transformation – something that happens in just 14 percent of the world’s forests.
   Get out on the water with six fall cruises aboard “masterful vessels” that ply the blue-black Muskoka lakes.
   “The scenery is truly spectacular at this time of year,” said John Miller of Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre, home of the historic Segwun and Wenonah II steamships.
   “Our captains will sometimes adjust the route to get the best viewing, but really anywhere you look is a dazzling array of colour – often doubly so because it is reflected off the water,” he added.
Fall colour tours on the historic Segwun steamship are offered from Gravenhurst.
   The steamships offer daily excursions including a Thanksgiving Day cruise on Oct. 10. realmuskoka.com
   Other cruises include the Lady Muskoka in Bracebridge; Sunset Cruises, Port Carling; SS Bigwin, Lake of Bays; Midland Tours, Port Severn; and the Island Queen, Parry Sound.
   Algonquin Provincial Park’s sugar and red maples reach their peak in the next few weeks followed by a second colour wave from beech trees, yellow and white birch, trembling and largetooth aspen, red oak and tamarack.
   One of the best spots to view the spectacle is the Highway 60 corridor through the park on trails such as Hardwood Lookout, Track and Tower, Centennial Ridges and Lookout, and Booth’s Rock.
   When things start to happen, latest images and live webcam views can be seen at algonquinpark.on.ca
   Also colourful is the annual harvest starting this weekend at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh and Muskoka Lakes Winery in Bala.
   It adds cranberry reds to the abundance of oranges and yellows around the marsh.
Having some fun during the harvest at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh.
   There are daily tours, wine tastings, shopping, hiking, and wagon and helicopter rides through Oct. 31.
   A highlight is the Bala Cranberry Festival from Oct. 14 to 16

   Fall getaways
   Muskoka Tourism suggests the “top five” fall getaways for overnight stays:
   - Killarney Lodge, Algonquin Park: Relax in private lakeside cabins or by the fire in the lounge.
   Each cabin is decorated in a “comfortable, Canadian country style.”
   Rates include three meals daily and the use of a canoe in this lodge that has no TVs, radios or phones in the cabins.
   - Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville, near the western entrance to Algonquin Park, offers modern luxury to experience the fall colours.
   Guests can save up to 20 per cent on midweek stays this month and next (from $152 a night) with a $50 resort credit for dining, golfing or retail goods.
   - Residence Inn Muskoka Wharf Gravenhurst is where you can buy the Muskoka Steamships and Muskoka Discovery Centre Package and combine a stay with a fall cruise.
   - Beauview Cottage Resort, Huntsville has fall specials in a “cozy” one-bedroom cottage with hot tub for $189 a night.
   - Rocky Crest Golf Resort, MacTier has “breathtaking surroundings and Lake Joseph views.”
   The package includes suite accommodations, a bottle of wine, daily breakfast and one dinner for two.

Colourful fall drives are abundant in Muskoka. (Photo: Explorers’ Edge)
   If you leaf-peep
   Check out the Muskoka online report for leaf colour updates at discovermuskoka.ca/ontario-fall-colour-report
   For Muskoka Tourism getaways and events: discovermuskoka.ca
   To see what’s happening at the colourful provincial parks: ontarioparks.com/fallcolour

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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