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 8 best ways to explore fall along the Rideau Canal South.
1. Rejoice In The Harvest
Harvest time is the right time to experience all that 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.
This time of year begs for fall fun, that’s why you have to mark Fall For Merrickville Market on your calendar this October! Join the family in a hay wagon ride, watch horse performances, meet some precious pony’s and shop ‘til you drop with over 90 vendors providing local goodies.
Pick your own daily at this casual orchard near Elgin in Rideau Lakes. Mainly focused on McIntosh and Honey Crisp varieties, Moon Valley Farms is known for being reasonably priced. Bring your own bags and have fun amongst the trees! Cider also available, with samples provided. How do you like them apples?!
Discover the season in a cup at the local coffee spots along the 1000 Islands Rideau Canal Waterways! Brew up good times and try a pumpkin spice latte – made with their signature homemade pumpkin blend and space mix. Also lots of other specialty drinks from Katarina’s Coffee Shop in Prescott (and they may even have pumpkin chocolate cookies)! The Outpost Café, a non-profit ministry café, also serves up a warm blend of caffeine and community connection. Guess what? One of their signature treats is stroopwafel! If you haven’t tried them, ‘tis the season.
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. The Rideau Canal is a feast for the eyes! With rock outcroppings, pristine water and lush forest, the Rideau Canal promises photo-ready scenes that unravel before your eyes. Rock Dunder, owned by the Rideau Waterway Land Trust near Morton offers a summit loop that gives a breathtaking view of the canal with water and colourful treetops below stretching as far as the eye can see. This trail requires a day pass to access it. Another unforgettable vantage point of the Rideau Canal is in Chaffey’s Lock on a former train bridge, which is now part of the Cataraqui Trail. A short walk from the lock awards visitors with an unforgettable view of the canal far below the bridge, which dates back to the early 1900s. Lastly, Foley Mountain Conservation Area in Westport looks out over Upper Rideau Lake from a granite ridge at Spy Rock. After marveling at the lake and village below, check out the family-friendly trails at Foley Mountain overlooking a beaver pond, turtle habitat and more. Gram worthy views for days!
Sugarbush Island trail near Davis Lock is a great family walk – the kids will love discovering sets of stairs built right into the trail for easy navigation of some hills.
Get back into nature and embrace the remaining days of summer! Try forest bathing at Ferguson Forest Centre in Kemptville. Wander on 22 km of forest trails, in the arboretum and parks of Ferguson Forest Centre. The centre manages more than 1,000 acres, and welcomes 35,000 visitors annually. Four legged friends are also welcome here – there’s even a dog park. In addition, the massive, the beautiful natural space at Limerick Forest serves as Leeds Grenville’s community forest. At more than 780-hectares, Limerick Forest is best known for its educational aspects, welcoming students to learn beneath the trees, but also by its multi-use recreational trails. Recreational activities in Limerick Forest include motorized activities such as the use of dirt bikes, ATVs and snowmobiles. Non-motorized pursuits include mountain biking, geocaching, horse-back riding, bird watching and hiking.
The bugs are dwindling, the humidity is gone, the weather is cooler – what better time to throw on a fall sweater and lace up for some walks along the Rideau Canal and 1000 Islands Waterways? Heritage walks through Merrickville, village of the Rideau Lakes and along the Heritage River Trail in Prescott provide insight into the past, allowing visitors to revel in heritage and learn while they stroll. Explore the history of the Merrickville Ruins or start your stroll at the Prescott Lighthouse and marvel at the St. Lawrence River. We bet you’ll be taking some impressive photos along the way!
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.
Is walking or hiking not feasible for you this fall? Not to worry, you can experience the magic of fall with a road trip around Rideau Lakes. This region is perfect for fall colour drives, and Rideau Lakes has put together three tours which take visitors and locals alike through the countryside, past historical buildings, and in the midst of charming rural communities along the way. One of the best ways to see fall in all its glory! Get out there and drive it.
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, where you can see fall colours reflected in the historic waters while immersing yourself in nature at its best. More than 30 launch ramps and most lock stations provide paddling access to the canal. Visitors come from all over the world to witness the Rideau Canal in action. Get your paddle on to experience it for yourself. The locks along this UNESCO World Heritage Site are open until Oct. 10, and water traffic isn’t as busy in fall, so it’s the perfect time to appreciate this famous waterway at your own pace. 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. See the 200-year-old mill stones grind heritage wheat! This National Historic Site showcases milling technology and 1800s industrial heritage – and is known as one of the finest examples of early industrial architecture in the province. With interpretive displays, an operating waterwheel, bolter, grain elevators and more, visitors can self-tour or enjoy a free guided tour and then wander around the quaint small town.
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.
Wander the streets of Merrickville and indulge in art, food, vintage whimsy and one-of-a-kind items. Notice the architecture of the storefronts that speaks to years past, and be sure to visit the Merrickville Blockhouse National Historic Site by the lock! Learn more about local history from the walking tour and get lost in small town charm for the day! You’ll be raving and returning.
See this town of artists and history through the eyes of two locals! A unique walking tour opportunity, Experience Our Merrickville sees visitors exploring more than two centuries of history, the thriving creative artists’ community, and scrumptious foodie spots, accented by local stories and insider connections. Local residents, Anney and Jane, take visitors on these 2 km tours and love helping people discover the beauty of this charming town on the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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.
Calling all art lovers! Step into the unique and inspiring world of artists at the 30th annual Merrickville Artist Guild Studio Tour this fall. ‘Fall” into a creative world unlike anything you’d see in daily life and support local talented artists following their dreams.
6. Get Festive With the Family
Have a passion for music? The Festival of Small Halls is an event you won’t want to miss this fall! Enjoy the talents of local artists including Ashley MacIssac, Blue Skies Community Fiddle Orchestra, Elliot Brood, Quote The Raven and much, much more.
Enter into fall heaven with Delta’s 7th annual Harvest Festival this October. Challenge yourself to join their bread baking contest if you think you’ve got the buns, shop local vendors, yard sales and farmers market, enjoy the car show and local crafts, dance along to live music and snack until you can’t snack anymore!
For a $20 bill you can buy yourself a day of action at the Snowmobile Grass Drag Event! Get exhilarated as you watch professional snowmobilers shred the grass as they race for top prize. Bring the kids along because children under 12 get free entry!
7. Get Spiritual with Olde Magick
Olde Magick is a magical shop that helps you find your inner witch! Known as the place where magick comes alive, Olde Magick in Prescott offers classes in wicca, candle magick, spells and more. Visitors drive from Ottawa and surrounding areas to shop here and for the expertise of the owner. There are plenty of other offerings to be discovered here, too, such as tarot readings, knowledge on crystals or cleansing, and creative workshops. Enjoy one of their many magical events this fall including drawing classes, broom making classes, lantern crafting, pendulum crafting and much more.
Master the art of the cauldron at this Olde Magick Shop class this October. By purchasing your very own cauldron you will be taught the art of creating spells with the four elements of our world – earth, air, fire and water.
Hosted by the spooktastic Olde Magick, the Elemental Crystal Grid event is a class that teaches you how to place crystals in patterns that will help balance your energies! Whether you are looking for more focus, a better connection or some self healing, this is the event for you.
8. Practice Your Swing
This is it, folks! It’s almost time to pack away the club for the year – so get out there and enjoy one last round of golf for the season in Prescott! Bonus: you get to revel in the breathtaking fall river views of the St. Lawrence River. The Prescott Golf Club has 18 holes and a “hole” lot of history waiting to be discovered. Offering an exceptional golf experience, the course becomes a brilliant sea of red, yellow and orange in the fall. Best of all, it harbours some stunning river scenery along the way. Take five after your game at the lounge or restaurant club house. This place is known for its excellent greens – and it’s stellar customer service. Visitors can even take a virtual tour of the course before they try it!
Edited & Updated By Lindsay Medeiros