Thu. Feb 29th, 2024
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When we hear the words “fall colors,” our minds often jump to Algonquin. The problem is that Algonquin has become so popular that fall brings long lines, crowded trails, and leaf jams that cause a lot of traffic.

So where can we go to see the stunning fall colors, hike to stunning viewpoints, and avoid crowds?

Restoule Provincial Park.

Haven’t you heard of him? It is a jewel. And it is a multicolored gem in autumn.

Where is Restoule?

cliff covered in fall foliage in Restoule

Restoule is just west of Algonquin. While Algonquin covers the rugged Algonquin Highlands, Restoule lies next door within the Almaguin Highlands. Almost as rugged as Algonquin, but not as elevated, the Almaguin Highlands lie south of Lake Nipissing and north of the Muskoka lakes.

The forest there is very similar to that of Algonquin. Red and sugar maples predominate, with their deep reds and brilliant shades of gold and orange. The towering, gnarled yellow birch adds warmth to the canopy, while the red oak adds a deep reddish burgundy color to the mix. Pine and hemlock add green to the forest palette.

A massive forest fire in the early 20th century put an end to the area’s early logging industry, giving the park a very old and diverse forest.

lake in autumnStormy lake in autumn

This colorful autumn forest covers steep hills and contrasts with the bright blue waters of Restoule and Stormy Lakes.

Hiking and cycling

Experiencing the autumn landscape in Restoule can be as simple as following your feet. The park contains several trails that will immerse you in all the benefits of an autumn forest. Did you know that trees release beneficial biochemical substances into the air that actually make us feel better?

river trail

autumn forest with riverThe Restoule River between Restoule and Stormy Lake

River Trail follows a section of the Restoule River that flows between Restoule Lake and Stormy Lake. Red, orange and gold are reflected in the river rapids seen from this 2km trail.

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Ranger Point Trail

View on lake in bluff with fire towerThe Bluff and Fire Tower, from Ranger’s Point

This trail circles Rangers Point for a kilometer and offers panoramic views of Stormy Lake to “the Bluff”, a 100m high cliff overlooking the lake. Fall foliage surrounds the lake and highlights the towering cliffs in the distance. The trail is double track with some steeper climbs, making it better for walking and biking.

Angel Point Trail

golden leaves and skyBeech and maple form a golden canopy

The Angel’s Point Trail (3 km) offers two mountain biking loops through vibrant hardwood forests.

The Inner Loop is a new single track trail designed for mountain biking. With gentle, winding curves, moderate elevation changes and drops, smooth humps and bumps, the trail is ideal for all riding levels.

Cyclists look out over the water from the shore on a sunny day

The double track outer loop is an easier option with a wide trail surface and fun hills.

fire tower trail

autumn leaves over the blue lake

The name is a bit misleading; This trail peaks at a fire tower, one of the few remaining in Ontario, but there’s so much more to see!

We say the 7km trail should take you about two hours (moderate with rocky, steep terrain), but there’s plenty to explore along the way, so you could easily spend half a day hiking, birding, photographing and hiking. picnic.

This trail also has one of the best viewpoints in Ontario parks.

Two hikers looking at the lake.Storm Lake Overlook, on the Fire Tower Trail

The trail enters a red pine forest shortly after the trailhead; These tall trees in straight rows fill what were once a farmer’s fields. The estate, founded in 1881, was acquired to create the Restoule Provincial Park. The trail winds through the forest, crossing boardwalks, wetlands and streams.

It then rises steeply into a rocky forest of red oaks. This forest occupies the dry, broken edge of a high ridge known as “the Bluff.” This overlook offers hikers panoramic views of Stormy Lake and the Restoule River, which flows west along a fault line to the French River. Bald eagles have been seen taking advantage of the updrafts at the cliff edge.

two hikers standing on the fall lookoutStormy Lake Lookout

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In autumn, the view becomes even more impressive, when the forest takes on its autumnal hues.

rowing

Stormy Lake is another great place for leaf peeping. While it’s not a huge lake, it’s wide enough to give you a pretty expansive view and has plenty of shoreline to explore (plus, it connects directly to neighboring Clear Lake).

lantern with autumn treesThe Lantern by Stormy Lake

Paddling to the base of the Bluff and its towering cliffs gives you a different perspective than the panoramic views from the top. A short portage will take you to Hazel Lake, a pretty little lake on the north side of Stormy.

camping in the countryside

For easy backcountry camping, Stormy and Clear Lakes have eight backcountry sites that are accessible by water (and without transportation!).

For a longer trip through the countryside, Stormy empties into the Restoule River and then the French River. This creates a four- to six-day canoe trip returning to Clear and Stormy lakes from Lake Nipissing to the north. Explore magazine called it one of Ontario’s 25 Incredible Trails.

group of hikers resting on a rocky outcropAmber Lake, on the Fire Tower Trail

As with all of Northern Ontario, the indigenous people living in this region have been paddling these routes for thousands of years. The French River section of the voyage was the main fur trade route for the better part of three centuries. The French River was named Canada’s first “Canadian Heritage River” due to its exceptional natural, cultural and recreational values.

the camping

boat docks in autumn.  reflection of autumn color in the water

Restoule camp is at the end of the road, literally. Highway 534 leaves the four-lane Highway 11 in Powassan, passes through the village of Restoule, and ends at the park.

Restoule is far from major highways, railways and big city lights. It’s quiet, with dark night skies that are absolutely filled with stars. A star party around the campfire after a day of hiking in the woods seems like a perfect fall day.

RV and campfires at overnight campsites

The park has a full complement of camping facilities:

  • 286 campsites, 97 of them electric
  • 12 Backcountry Sites with Water Access in Stormy and Clear Lakes
  • 2 comfort stations
  • Boats and Boat Docks in Restoule and Stormy Lakes
  • 2 designated swimming beaches and one designated dog beach

Ready to bathe in autumn splendor? Book a fall trip to Restoule!