It’s that time of the year again! The air feels crisper, the days grow shorter, and the leaves change to vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow. I love fall getaways in Ontario for so many reasons: the weather is perfect for outdoor activities (not too hot, not too cold), the autumn landscapes are stunning, and the crowds thin out. For a peaceful getaway in nature, I recommend taking a road trip to Bonnechere Provincial Park. Whether you’re traveling from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, or the USA, you’ll enjoy a beautiful fall drive on your way to the park. Once you reach Bonnechere Provincial Park, you’ll enjoy a quiet retreat to see some of the best fall colours in Ontario.
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There are so many things to do in Bonnechere Provincial Park, even if you’re visiting during the shoulder season of fall. While it might be too cold to lounge at its sandy beach, there are lots of outdoor adventures and lasting memories to create. I traveled to Bonnechere Provincial Park for two nights with my sister, Robyn. There are multiple ways to stay overnight at the park: camping and roofed accommodations (a cottage and rustic cabins). The Riverside Rustic Cabin (C3) was our home during our stay at Bonnechere Park.
Spend the Night in a Rustic Cabin
I love spending time in nature, but I’m more a glamping type of person than a camper. There’s nothing wrong with having a comfortable place to rest your head at night. Plus, during the fall in Ontario, it can get a little cold at night to sleep under the stars. Bonnechere Provincial Park’s rustic cabins are the ideal solution for those seeking a roof over their head while exploring the wonders of nature.
I didn’t really know what to expect when pulling up to our rustic cabin in the woods. From the exterior, the wooden cabin looks super cute. There’s a place to park your car out front, and the cabin comes with an ample supply of firewood for a bonfire. There’s a barbecue for each cabin, and the Riverside Rustic Cabin overlooks the beautiful Bonnechere River.
Before entering the cabin, there’s a screened porch with a bench where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. It’s great to have a barrier between the outdoor world and the cabin in order to keep the bugs out.
Interior of the Rustic Cabin
The rustic cabin includes many comforts of home. While there isn’t any running water in the cabin, there’s a small fridge and a microwave. Enjoy your meal at the custom pine kitchen table in the cabin or outdoors on the picnic table. There’s a large living room with a sofa and a propane fireplace. Adjust the heat easily on the thermostat to ensure that the cabin stays warm and toasty.
There are two bedrooms in the cabin: one has a double bed, and one has a double bunk bed. A family of four can easily sleep in a rustic cabin, and there’s probably room for a couple more people, too. There are wooden shelves and coat racks inside the bedrooms to store your belongings.
What’s Included and What To Bring
With every rustic cabin rental, you have access to the small kitchen inside the cabin, the BBQ outdoors, and some firewood. There’s also a canoe, paddles, and life jackets included with every cabin. You can take the canoe out to the river anytime you like from your own small dock.
Be sure to bring the following from home: bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows), pots and pans, dishes and cutlery, food items, and any other personal items. If you love coffee and tea, you’ll need to bring an electric kettle and a French press. Feel free to check out my tips for making coffee on the road.
Please note that there isn’t any Wi-Fi and the cell signal isn’t the greatest in the area. It’s a great place to unplug and enjoy nature. However, if you’re looking to enjoy a little bit of technology in the evening, I recommend downloading some shows on Netflix before you leave home. Robyn and I watched some shows on my laptop in our cozy cabin at night.
Please note that pets are not allowed inside the cabins, and smoking is not permitted. To reserve a cabin, please phone Ontario Parks at 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) or 1-519-826-5290 outside of North America.
There isn’t any running water in the cabin. However, there are bathroom facilities a very short walk from the cabin, including a flush toilet, sink, and mirror. The facilities are very clean and well stocked with toilet paper. If you’re looking to have a shower, you’ll have to venture further into the park towards the campsite.
Go Hiking to See Ontario Fall Colours
Looking to see fall foliage at one of the best provincial parks in Ontario? It’s easy to go hiking at Bonnechere Provincial Park. We set out on foot from our rustic cabin and walked around the McNaughton Trail. It’s a 2km loop trail that will take anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes to complete.
It’s a very easy stroll in the woods where you’ll be able to experience those glorious shades of orange, yellow, red, and green. The McNaughton Trail offers a unique experience for adults and kids alike through its “Foot Prints in Time” (FIT). As you hike along the trail, you’ll come across wooden posts with engaging interpretive and educational text. The signs swing out from the post, and you can read information on both sides. FIT takes you on a journey through 13 footprints in total. You’ll learn about the history of the region, its ecology, and details about its flora and fauna.
If you’re admiring Ontario fall colours at Bonnechere Provincial Park, be sure to pack some bug spray. Depending on the time of year and when you go hiking, there might be some pesky mosquitoes out there. Protect yourself from the bites of those nasty little fellows!
Can’t get enough? If you’re looking for where to see fall colours in Ontario and love to hike, there are more opportunities around Bonnechere Provincial Park. There are 10 more local trails at the Walks of the Little Bonnechere River. Visit the friendly and helpful staff at the park office for more details. They have a small booklet there with a listing of the hikes. They’re happy to photocopy pages from the book to assist your hikes.
Canoeing on the Bonnechere River
Canoeing at Bonnechere Provincial Park is easy, especially if you’re staying at a rustic cabin. Simply carry your canoe down to the dock by your cabin, place it in the water, and you’re well on your way. The paddles and life jackets (mandatory at Ontario Parks) are right in your cabin’s porch. If you’re camping at the park, you can rent a canoe or a kayak, too.
Canoeing is one of the top ways to view Ontario fall colours. More colourful trees and scenes come into view upon every twist and turn of the river. A paddle along the Bonnechere River is very calm and leisurely. It’s great fun to meander along the river, avoiding a few fallen trees or low lying branches here and there. The sandy river banks are continually reshaping a river that’s constantly in flux. There are many oxbows with unique habitats for turtles, fish, deer, and ducks. I must admit that we only saw ducks on our canoeing adventure, but you might very well come across other wildlife on your trip.
Other Features of Bonnechere Provincial Park
At Bonnechere Provincial Park, there’s a peaceful sandy beach by the campsite that I’m sure is much busier during the summer months. In the fall, there aren’t many other people around, and it’s a quiet spot to go for a stroll. The beach at Bonnechere is also wheelchair accessible. There’s also a small store on site, just in case you forgot any supplies or need to pick up anything. I love the book tree at Bonnechere Provincial Park: drop off a book that you’re finished reading and grab a new one that catches your eye.
Nearby Towns and Attractions
The closest towns to Bonnechere Provincial Park are Barry’s Bay and Killaloe. Both towns are great little day trips from the park for those seeking a cup of coffee, restaurants, or shopping.
Barry’s Bay is a cute small town in Ontario with a main street of cafes, restaurants, and shops. Robyn and I stopped here at Madawaska Coffee Company for a coffee on our way out of town. It’s a sweet independently owned and operated cafe with delicious brews. In Barry’s Bay, you’ll also find some clothing boutiques, souvenir shops, handmade craft shops, and other services (grocery stores, banks, fast food).
Killaloe is another charming Ontario town with a great claim to fame: Beavertails were invented in Killaloe! Have you had a Beavertail? No, I’m not talking about the animal (I am vegan, after all!). Beavertails are delicious pastry treats that are pretty unique to Canada. They’re fried dough topped with yummy, sugary ingredients. You can order them as-is, or enjoy them as vegan treats if you ask for no butter and no chocolate drizzle. I had a delicious maple Beavertail – how Canadian of me!
Robyn and I also went for a walk at Killaloe Station Park, which features a covered bridge. There’s also a small playground and a book tree at the park.
When to Visit Ontario Parks for Fall Colours
We visited Bonnechere Provincial Park at the end of September and the fall colours were beginning to grow vibrant. You can enjoy Ontario fall colours from mid-September through October, depending on where you are in the province. Thankfully, there’s this Ontario Parks Fall Colours chart that shows you exactly where to see fall colours in Ontario. It’s regularly updated throughout the season, too. It’s a great way to plan your fall getaways in Ontario.
I highly recommend heading to Bonnechere Provincial Park for the ultimate Ontario fall foliage experience. Spend your days hiking and canoeing. Spend your evenings cooking up veggie burgers on the BBQ and relaxing by a crackling bonfire. Sleep under the roof of a cozy rustic cabin in the woods. It’s a very peaceful and quiet experience in nature where there’s barely anyone else around.
Thanks so much to Ontario Parks for hosting our stay at Bonnechere Provincial Park. It was such a wonderful experience to get outdoors and experience the nature of the gorgeous Ottawa Valley. If you’re looking for more things to do in the Ottawa Valley, check out the Bonnechere Caves, white water rafting down the Ottawa River, and my wellness trip to Lanark County.
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