Autumn is upon us, and the fabulous fall colours are painting our watershed red, gold and yellow.
Foley Mountain is famous for its fall views from Spy Rock Lookout, but it can get very busy. This year, don't be afraid to break with tradition and get your fall fix from lesser-known hikes inside the park. We promise the colours are just as spectacular, and you won't be fighting for a spot on Spy Rock!
Try these three hikes for a refreshing take on Foley's fall splendor.
1. Red Oak Trail
You can hop on the Red Oak Trail (formerly the Ridge Trail) at the Spy Rock picnic area where it meets the Blue Circle Trail.
As you pick your way across the ridge toward the Interpretive Centre, you'll be treated to great views of Upper Rideau Lake and Westport village. Benches dot the trail so you can soak it all in.
When Red Oak hits the White Pine trail, continue on White Pine and then onto the Orange Maple trail down to the Interpretive Centre, where you'll find towering maples, ash and poplar trees alive with colour.
From there, you can turn around and head back to Spy Rock, or take the 400m walk from the parking lot down to the beach for a fresh perspective from the water.
2. Beaver Pond Trail
If you've got little humans in tow, the Beaver Pond Trail is your best bet – especially since you don't have to commit to the entire 1.2 km loop to find fantastic fall foliage.
Starting just across the road from the Spy Rock parking lot, the trail follows the shoreline of a picturesque pond. Foley Mountain supervisor Rebecca Whitman said this part of the trail is particularly beautiful in the fall.
"It's a mix of deciduous and coniferous trees, so you get the bright fall colours with the deep greens and it all reflects into the nice, still water," she said.
Early in the hike you're rewarded with a lookout over the pond, and that's a good spot to turn back if your party isn't up to doing more.
3. White Pine Trail
You'll almost certainly leave the crowds behind if you tackle the White Pine Trail – and you'll be rewarded for your efforts on this rocky, rugged loop.
Parking at the Interpretive Centre, you can start on the Orange Maple trail to connect to White Pine, turning right to follow it onto the ridge.
Up high, you'll find towering white pines and stunted oak trees on the rocky outcrops, mixed with excellent fall foliage as you pick your way back down the mountain.
"It's a beautiful part of the park to go into," Whitman said.
According to Whitman, Foley's fall colour peak is usually around Thanksgiving, give or take a week. She said planning ahead will help you avoid the crowds even more. Come early for quieter trails or late for a sunset hike: it won't be warm, but it'll be worth it!
Whitman said she's hopeful for an especially spectacular season. She's keeping a watchful eye on a big maple that always turns early: it's already yellow.
"We did have some dry conditions this summer which can contribute to vibrant colours," Whitman said.
For all the details and directions to the park, visit https://www.rvca.ca/conservation-areas/fee-required/foley-mountain-ca.