by Megan Honan | UPDATED September 2023
Those who live in the Waterloo Region are pretty lucky to call one of the best places in Ontario home during leaf peeping season. ‘Tis the season to enjoy the sight of leaves changing colour, munching on cinnamon donuts and visiting local farms for fresh produce. For your most epic autumn road trip yet, we’ve compiled six of the best fall foliage spots across Waterloo Region to explore––preferably with apple cider in hand. From a quick stroll through Willow River Park (Victoria Park) in Kitchener to a long, heart pumping hike along the Walter Bean Grand River Trail, here are are our favourite scenic spots:
This scenic, tree-lined walk spans 6.8 km along a pristine hiking trail that runs right next to the river. Conestogo River is one of the four main waterways that makes up the Grand River, and trickles past the quaint villages of Glen Allen, Hawkesville, and eventually St. Jacobs. There’s no shortage of scenic overlooks and pretty water banks, perfect for stopping and enjoying a late afternoon picnic surrounded by vibrant fall colours. Of course, no walk along Conestogo River would be complete without a stop into the Village of St. Jacobs, where coffee awaits at EcoCafe, or perhaps a craft beer at Block 3 Brewing Company. The Health Valley Trail is a great way to catch the colours once you’re fueled up and ready to go!
Iron Horse Trail
Connecting the cities of Waterloo and Kitchener, the Iron Horse Trail is an incredible multi-use path for enjoying bright autumn foliage. The trail runs for approximately 5 km and weaves through both Woodside Park and Victoria Park. Bring a blanket and sit next to Victoria Park Lake to enjoy some birdwatching, as well as the people strolling by. Make your way into Downtown Kitchener for a bite to eat and enjoy the last of patio weather, before returning back onto the trail.
Dumfries Conservation Area
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city in this picturesque conservation area, spanning almost 75-hectare across Cambridge. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, warm beverage in hand, as you take in the pops of gold, red, burgundy and orange maple leaves, which can be spotted along the trail. The area is home to plantation forests, mature forests, wetlands and trails, so you can ensure no two trips will ever be the same.
Walter Bean Grand River Trail
Nestled between the towns of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, this 25 km trail offers plenty of opportunities to spot colourful, lush foliage. Follow the snaking road as it weaves past pristine golf courses, Kiwanis Park and the west side of the river. For a unique leaf peeping vantage, hop in a canoe at one of the four public launches along the trail and paddle along the Grand River to watch the changing leaves reflect back into the water.
The Huron Natural Area
Considered one of the most beautiful areas in Kitchener for hiking, this may be the best hidden gem in the city for leaf peeping opportunities. With over 250 acres of protected wetlands and forests to explore, this area is a nature lover’s paradise. Choose from six unique trails to hike, each filled with spots to observe and photograph the foliage. While mid-October is the best time to leaf-peep, the surroundings are beautiful year-round.
Discover Wellesley’s newest recreational trail, which opened to the public on October 19th, 2019. Ready to dazzle with all of the fall colours on display, this eight-acre lot is the best way to see the changing leaves on foot in Wellesley. Home to both woodland creatures and gorgeous foliage, be sure to have your camera ready while hiking Erbhaven. While this trail is fun to hike all year round, why not make it a day trip during the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival, for a truly autumnal outing? Or, if you want to enjoy a pumpkin spice latte while you wander, stop by Grammy’s Boutique & Espresso Bar in Wellesley before you head out on the trail!
Megan Honan is a seasoned travel, food and lifestyle writer based in Waterloo Region. Megan currently holds bylines for Suitcase Magazine, NUVO, S/Magazine, Canadian Traveller, Days to Come, Swanky Retreats and more. She’s worked with some of the top travel companies across the globe to create content and help with overall brand strategy, including G Adventures and Cosmopolitan Hotels. To connect, please visit https://meganhonan.com.