Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
Fall colours.

Today’s blog comes from Heather Stern, Discovery Leader for Samuel de Champlain.

I’ll confess: I LOVE fall. For me it is the best season because it is the time when I can go camping.

As park staff, it’s tough to go during the busy summer months, but as things start to wind down in the fall, there’s usually more time to get away and visit some provincial parks.

But this doesn’t bother me, because camping at this time of year is the best! The cooler temperatures and shorter days provide opportunities we don’t have in July and August.

And, for me, fall camping is best at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

This is why:

Gaze at the stars without staying up all night

The shorter days of September and October mean you can wake up to watch the sunrise with a hot cup of coffee, enjoy a sunset on the beach and still have more than enough energy for a night of stargazing.


Jingwakoki Beach is a great place to watch the stars come out, offering an unobstructed view of the southern night sky.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, my favorite place to stargaze is the Wabashkiki Boardwalk. It is a quiet place where it is unlikely to find vehicle lights or flashlights.


Campers in early October can begin to see some meteors from the Orionid meteor shower that peaks in the middle of the month. Constellations are always fun to spot too. Try to find classics like Ursa Major or Cassiopeia, or just have fun and make up your own!

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Take the road less traveled

Located between the north side of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Mattawa River, Samuel de Champlain is located in a beautiful section of the Canadian Shield, which means we have lakes and rivers galore.

Morning fog.

Long Lake is a wonderful place for an afternoon paddle. With tall granite cliffs towering above you and a mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, you will feel like you are in a remote place.

Did we mention Long Lake is also great for fishing?

Two people in kayaks on the water.

If you have your own canoe or kayak, take a longer paddle entering Campion Rapids and paddling up the Mattawa River to the Gut Inlet.

The Gut is a beautiful hidden gem in Samuel de Champlain as the only ways to access it are by boat or boot (hiking).

view of the blue river from the top of the gorge

As you paddle down the Mattawa River, look up at the sheer cliffs and consider how these natural walls would have echoed the wonderful songs of travelers as they kept the rhythm of their paddling more than 200 years ago.

Fall Colors (We Have Those Too!)

Autumn leaf changes can turn even the most boring forest view into something spectacular!

And Algonquin isn’t the only park with beautiful fall colors.

The smaller crowds at Sam D mean you’ll have an unobstructed view. You may even be the only person on the trails if you come mid-week.

Autumn colors.

The main road into the park has wonderful golden yellows of the aspens, reds of the maples, and rusty browns of the oaks. Easily accessible scenic spots are Campion Rapids and the bridge to Jingwakoki Campground (don’t park directly on the bridge!).

Fall colors and a lake.

Do you want to see nice views and colors outside the car without having to walk too far? The Wabashkiki Trail gives you a glimpse of the colors at Jingwakoki Campground, as well as some stunning vibrant reds across the swamp.

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See more, sweat less

Cooler temperatures make fall hikes more enjoyable. You are less likely to sweat and it is more comfortable to wear layers of clothing. There are no bugs, so you don’t have to worry if you get to the trailhead and realize you forgot to bring your bug spray.

Autumn colors.

With less foliage and a clearer view, you’ll have a better chance of seeing the beaver, busy working on its dam for the winter, or the deer grazing peacefully at the edge of the clearing. The only time I saw a moose in the park was during the fall, so this is an opportune time to see wildlife during your hike.

Fall of Samuel de Champlain Park.

Since there are no mistakes, why not try a longer day hike? The Etienne Trail system on Sam D is a series of four hiking trails of varying lengths and challenges.

The Red Pine Trail is a quick 3km loop that takes you along the top of the bluffs overlooking the Mattawa River. With two scenic overlooks along the way, this is the perfect fall trail if you only have a couple of hours.

Autumn colors.

The Nature Loop and History Loop are the two longest trails in the park and are part of the Etienne system.

The green Nature Loop follows the shoreline of Long Lake and takes you to Gut, while the blue History Loop follows the shore of the Mattawa River and also takes you to Gut. Both trails offer great panoramic views from the cliff tops and beautiful fall colors along the way.

Samuel de Champlain is the perfect park for fall camping if you want to get away from the crowds and experience the beautiful changes of season.

Maybe I’ll see you on the Red Pine Trail this fall.

Happy camping!