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Algonquin Park Fall Colour Report

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Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 9, 2017

Image above: View from the Algonquin Park Webcam at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre on October 16, 2017. Click to view the live webcam.

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Summary

Photographers on the morning of October 16, 2017 enjoyed patchy light snow on the remaining fall colour leaves in portions of Algonquin Park.

Leaf fall has increased with the yellow colour of poplar and birch now in decline after recent heavy rain and high winds. Check the live views of these species via the Algonquin Park Webcam. Red Oak, one of the later changing species each year is showing its rusty red colour often near the tops of hills in Algonquin Park. The maple canopy is now bare and the maple understory is thinning as these species prepare for winter.

Tamarack, Algonquin’s only cone-bearing tree that drops all its needles and the latest changing tree species each year, is showing various intensities of yellow/golden-yellow depending upon the exact location. Search for Tamaracks in wetlands and bogs including the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, the Mizzy Lake Trail, or along the Opeongo Road.

Planning a walk on the Park's interpretive trails is a good way to see the remaining fall colour in Algonquin Park. The best colour along Highway 60 is in the eastern portions, such as the Lookout Trail, Visitor Centre, and Opeongo Road.

The Algonquin Park Visitor Centre is open daily for late season fall colour watchers.

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide
Autumn Day Use Guide - EN, FR, DE, ZH, JA, KO
Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

Fall Colour History in Algonquin Park

During the past 40+ years, the earliest Sugar Maple peak recorded in Algonquin Park was September 15 (1982) and the latest October 9 (1996). During 2015 and 2016, the peak Sugar Maple colour was determined to be October 8 (almost record late) and October 5, respectively. The average peak of the Sugar Maple canopy in the western portion of the Highway 60 Corridor is September 27.

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

The best fall colour watching in Algonquin Park is expected from mid-September to mid-October. Fall colour is subject to numerous environmental variables such as daylight length, moisture, temperature, frost, wind, heavy rain, etc., so the exact peak of fall colour is difficult to determine in advance. High winds, rain, or even snow can sometimes quickly result in fragile leaves being knocked off the trees increasing what is called leaf fall.


Live Algonquin Park Webcam

Algonquin Park Webcam: Live Views of Algonquin ParkFor real-time video, plus daily panorama images of Algonquin Park, watch the Algonquin Park Webcam broadcasting from the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. It should be noted that this location is dominated by poplar and birch species that show their best yellow-orange colour in early to mid October, after the peak of the Sugar Maple forest. Thus we would not recommend using this live webcam as indicator of Sugar Maple colour in Algonquin Park. Use the "current status" graphic below for Sugar Maple fall colour.


Current Status of Algonquin Park's Fall Colour

Below is the current status of Algonquin Park's fall colour change. Please check back throughout fall for more detailed updates as conditions warrant.

Current Algonquin Park Fall Colour Status

Report Date:
Current Status Category: PAST PEAK
Percentage of Colour Change: 100%
Percentage of Leaf Fall: 75%

Current Maple Colour Status in Algonquin Park

Current Poplar and Birch Colour Status in Algonquin Park


Recent Images of Algonquin Park

Below are recent images of Algonquin Park. Click to enlarge the images and see the captions for the image date and location. For live video see the Algonquin Park Webcam or The Friends of Algonquin Park's Facebook page for additional images.

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 12, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at the Rock Lake Road in Algonquin Park on October 12, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 12, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 41 in Algonquin Park on October 12, 2017 (click to enlarge).Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 12, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 20 in Algonquin Park on October 12, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 12, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 16 in Algonquin Park on October 12, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 12, 2017

Image above: Approaching the West Gate in Algonquin Park on October 12, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 6, 2017

Image above: At km 16 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on October 6, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 6, 2017

Image above: At Big Pines Trail in Algonquin Park on October 6, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 6, 2017

Image above: Maple-dominated forest at km 20 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on October 6, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 6, 2017

Image above: Poplar fall colour at Rock Lake Road in Algonquin Park on October 6, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour October 6, 2017

Image above: Poplar and Tamarack fall colour at Ring-necked Pond in Algonquin Park on October 6, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on October 3, 2017

Image above: Near Peck Lake Trail in Algonquin Park on October 3, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on October 3, 2017

Image above: Hardwood Hill at km 16 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on October 3, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on October 3, 2017

Image above: Approaching the West Gate of Algonquin Park on October 3, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park September 28, 2017

Image above: Approaching the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 28, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park September 28, 2017

Image above: Near Killarney Lodge at Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park on September 28, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park September 28, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 20 Algonquin Park on September 28, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour

Image above: Fall colour and new pavement along Highway 60 at km 26 in Algonquin Park on September 22, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 19, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at Park Lake near the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on September 19, 2017

Image above: Fall colour approaching the West Gate in Algonquin Park on the foggy morning of September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 15, 2017

Image above: Fall colour near Tea Lake Campground in Algonquin Park on September 15, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Fall colour at Highway 60 and the Track and Tower Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Fall colour at Highway 60 and the Track and Tower Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).


Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

When Should I Visit Algonquin Park?

A trip to Algonquin Park between mid-September and mid-October is best for observing Algonquin Park's fall colour, but more precision regarding an exact date depends upon what species of tree you are interested in observing.

Red Maple in Algonquin ParkAlgonquin Park is home to 34 native species of trees. Of these species 10 are classified as conifers (cone bearing) and will retain their leaves (needles) year-round and are often referred to as "evergreen". The only exception is the Tamarack that changes to golden yellow colour before dropping its needles in preparation for winter. The other 24 species of deciduous trees change colour at different times, depending upon the species, their location in Algonquin Park, and the specific environmental conditions in that area.

No tree happens to grow in a random location, rather each tree struggle against great odds and hazards for a place in the sun and each species is subtly equipped to do better than its competition in certain conditions. Certain species of trees grow in different locations in Algonquin Park. Therefore the mosaic of forest types in Algonquin Park is no accident but is determined by soil type, moisture, climate, etc. resulting in the amazing blend of green, yellow, orange, red, and purple colours makes Algonquin Park's fall colour so special.

Traditionally, Algonquin Park's fall colour occurs earlier than surrounding areas because of the Park's higher elevation, up to almost 600 metres above sea level. This can mean the best colour is observed several weeks (or more!) prior to leaf colour change in places like Ottawa (70 metres above sea level), Toronto (75 metres above sea level), or or even communities just outside Algonquin Park's boundaries. Algonquin Park’s high elevation, thin soils, and cooler temperatures results in a shorter growing season for all plants including its trees.

Mid-September to Early October

Fall Colour in Algonquin Park

If visiting Algonquin Park during mid-September to early October, you will observe the colour change of the Sugar Maples and Red Maples. This fall colour covers hills in orange and red colours and is best observed at locations with expansive views such as trails and views across water. During the past 40+ years, the earliest Sugar Maple peak recorded was September 15, 1982 and the latest October 9, 1996. During 2016, the peak Sugar Maple colour was determined to be October 6 (almost record late), as a result of warm fall temperatures and a late frost. The average peak of the Sugar Maple canopy in the western portion of the Highway 60 Corridor is September 27. See the current status of Algonquin Park's colour change above.

Early to Mid-October

Large-toothed Aspen in Algonquin Park

An Algonquin Park visit between early to mid October (including Thanksgiving) will observe the yellow-orange colours displayed by poplar and birch species, plus the orange colour of the Sugar Maple understory. This time known as the "Golden Encore" generally occurs after the Sugar Maple and Red Maple peak colour, but offers great landscape views in poplar and birch dominated areas. The eastern portion of the Highway 60 Corridor and the Park's East Side is a great location to view this colour.

Once leaves have fallen from the tops of the Sugar Maples, the understory changes colour at ground level as it was previously protected from cold temperatures by the blanket of overhead leaves. A hike along an interpretive trail dominated by maples is a great way to see understory fall colour up close.

Mid to Late October

Tamarack

A mid to late October visit showcases Tamarack at their peak yellow colour before dropping their needles in preparation for winter. The Tamarack is Algonquin Park's only cone bearing tree that changes colour and drops all its needles in preparation for winter. Search for Tamaracks in wetlands and bogs including the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, the Mizzy Lake Trail, or along the Opeongo Road. By late October or early November (depending upon environmental conditions) all deciduous trees are bare and prepared for winter.

How Long Will the Fall Colour Last?

Upcoming weather conditions (including wind, rain, and snow) will determine the end of the fall colour viewing season. In some years, the best colour is short lived as a result of high winds for example. In other years the best viewing will remain for weeks. Environmental conditions control the duration that various species of trees will retain their fragile fall coloured leaves.


Red Maple in Autumn, Algonquin ParkWhy Does Fall Colour Happen?

Algonquin Park is ablaze with vibrant colours during September and October. In a landscape so often dominated by the green of summer, how does this brief explosion of reds, oranges, and yellows happen in the early autumn? The answer involves a complex process of numerous chemicals and environmental variables. Read more at Why Does Fall Leaf Colour Change Happen?


Where Should I Visit in Algonquin Park?

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide
Autumn Day Use Guide - EN, FR, DE, ZH, JA, KO
Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

The "Algonquin Dome" refers to the high elevation piece of the Canadian Shield that underlies the western two-thirds of Algonquin Park. Here an ancient mountain range continues to exist increasing elevation well above that of surrounding areas (primarily outside the Park). These ancient rolling hills covered by soils deposited by a glacier thousands of years ago, creating suitable conditions for the growth of maples. The maples - primarily Sugar, Red and Striped - experience a cooler climate than those outside the Park area as a result of the higher elevation. These cooler conditions and the resulting shorter growing season make for an early fall and thus an earlier fall colour watching season than other locations in southern Ontario. Fortunately for visitors, Highway 60 runs through a large section of Algonquin Park's higher elevation. The Highway 60 Corridor provides easy access to the Park area dominated by these three species of maples for keen "leaf peepers".

Below is a satellite image taken near the peak of the Sugar Maple canopy showing the red/orange colour of the Sugar Maples and the boundary of Algonquin Park. Algonquin Park's West Side including the Highway 60 Corridor is dominated by maples, while the the Park's East Side is dominated by pines that show green needles that do not change colour. This satellite image was taken on October 1, 2012.

Algonquin Park's Fall Colour Seen From Space

Suggested Places for Viewing Algonquin Park's Fall Colour

Below are suggested places for viewing Algonquin Park's fall colour. These locations change according to the date and conditions observed within Algonquin Park.

Recommended Interpretive Walking Trails

Regardless of the exact date, Algonquin Park's Interpretive Trails are a good way to view the fall colour. Trails offering lookouts with wide vistas are especially popular around the Sugar Maple peak and the later peak of poplar and birch species. These day walking trails range in length from 800 metres to 11 kilometres in length. Trails that are suggested for fall walking include:

Side Roads with Foliage Viewing Opportunities

The following side roads connected to Highway 60 offer foliage viewing opportunities with lower speed traffic than Highway 60.

  • Roads leading to Access Points around the periphery of Algonquin Park

Related Information

Images

Plan Your Visit

Other Resources

 

 

Reserve your developed or backcountry campsite for your next visit.

Share your passion for Algonquin Park by becoming a member or donor.

Special regulations for Algonquin's special fishery.