The Rideau Canal is delightful in the fall; from locks to artisan markets to being an up-and-comer on the local harvest foodie scene. Read on for the 5 best ways to explore fall along the Rideau Canal South.
1. Rejoice In The Harvest
Harvest time is the right time to experience all the Rideau Heritage Route has on its plate! Scheuermann Vineyard and Winery in Westport is on the shores of Upper Rideau Lake offers tastings and dining events using its wood-fired grill throughout the fall. Bundle up in a sweater, and sip on locally-produced wine while relaxing in chairs overlooking the changing colours by the lake!
Furnace Falls Farm near Lyndhurst, brought to you by the folks at Wendy’s Country Market, is taking farm-to-table to a whole new level, as a renovated farmhouse welcomes guests who are keen to experience local food, cooking classes, and luxurious rural hospitality. Look here to celebrate fall with two delicious local-food inspired dinners in a unique setting – a Settler’s Harvest Feast and an Apple of my Eye dinner.
2. Lace-Up And Go This Fall
Lace-up and get ready for fantastic fall colour views: the Rideau Canal offers natural eye candy at every bend in the trail. Standing atop the rock at the summit of Rock Dunder, owned by the Rideau Waterway Land Trust near Morton, gives a breathtaking view of the canal with water and colourful treetops stretching out below. Open until mid-November, this trail does require a day pass to access it.
An easier walk sees hikers take in another unforgettable fall vantage point of the Rideau Canal in Chaffey’s Lock – on an historic train bridge, which is now part of the Cataraqui Trail. A short walk through the woods from the lock awards visitors with an unforgettable view of the canal far below, as well as the ever-changing fall colours. Be sure to stop in to the lock station to see a working lock in action!
Sugarbush Island trail near Davis Lock is a great family walk – the kids will love discovering sets of stairs built into right the trail for easy navigation of some hills.
Lastly, Foley Mountain in Westport looks out over Upper Rideau Lake from a granite ridge at Spy Rock. A three-minute walk from the parking lot gets visitors to the rock lookout to see the lake and village below. Other family-friendly trails at Foley Mountain also provide interesting interpretive hikes, overlooking a beaver pond, turtle habitat and more.
3. A Paddler’s Paradise
No crowds, wildlife galore, calm waters and peaceful paddles await along the Rideau Canal in fall! Autumn is the perfect time to explore this paddler’s paradise. More than 30 launch ramps and most lock stations provide paddling access to the canal. Autumn is a unique time to explore wildlife, as the Rideau serves as a corridor for migrating birds and animals. Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards can be rented at numerous points along the Rideau Canal and Rideau Tours out of Chaffey’s Lock even offers guided fall colour cruises so visitors can experience the blaze of colour that pops out along the canal every autumn.
4. Discover Historic Charm
The Rideau lives and breathes history. The past is ingrained in the cultural fabric of the region as evident at the lock stations and surrounding small communities. Historical buildings like the Red Brick School in Elgin, a special cemetery in Chaffey’s Lock honouring historic construction workers on the Rideau Canal, even museums, several surviving blockhouses along the Rideau and lockmasters houses, all give way to communities with a historic charm who celebrate their window to the past.
Witness a working flour mill, grinding grain with traditional equipment and methods used in the 1800s at The Old Stone Mill National Historic Site in Delta. Explore shops and restaurants in Newboro, then walk down to the locks and see them in action. Grab an ice cream and stroll Seeley’s Bay while reading interpretive historical signs, visit the blockhouse in Merrickville and relish the village that embraces its history every day – there is much uncover about past times along the Rideau.
5. Explore A Haven For Artists
Creativity blossoms along the Rideau Canal! Maybe it’s the natural beauty, maybe it’s the friendly people, maybe it’s inspiring landscapes and relaxed way of life – whatever the reason, artists flock to the Rideau to sculpt, paint, build, write, photograph, carve, imagine and dream big. While artist studios dot the landscape, art associations are also active and many galleries showcase local work. Look to Merrickville for a veritable artist’s haven, housing internationally-renowned glass blowers, and many more artists in beautifully-adorned shops. Plan a full day in the village to explore and appreciate the art, dine at a local restaurant and go boutique shopping.
Edited & Updated By Lindsay Medeiros