A subtle change in the air, leaves on the ground, harvest foods showing up in the market – all signs point to fall. By the time October hits there’ll be no denying it, but much of September and early October remain sunny enough to make it worth keeping the sandals out. If you’re trying to hold on to summer a bit longer, the Kawarthas Northumberland region has a selection of fair-weather activities that’ll keep your mind off the impending cold.
Remember when the first patio of the season opened, and you realized summer was really here? There’s still time to squeeze in another bite and a few more drinks before everybody moves indoors. With its Texas-style soul food, Muddy’s BBQ Pit (3247 County Rd. 2, Keene) will definitely give you warm southern vibes. Their covered porch seating area boasts quirky touches like a vintage arcade machine, and if you’re lucky you might catch a local band performing. Order by the pound and get exactly what you’re after, or if you’re indecisive try the carnivore sampler for a once-round-the-kitchen taste of brisket, ribs, hot link, and pulled pork.
Muddy’s is open until December 31, but you’ll have to act a bit quicker to get some time in at the Silver Bean (Millenium Park, Peterborough). Situated right along the Otonabee River, you’d be hard-pressed to name a better view in the entire city. It’s spacious enough to accommodate everything from kids on playdates to businesspeople in meetings, and vegetarians will appreciate the range of fresh sandwiches and salads. Bring a book, a laptop, or a few friends and spend some time in a true Peterborough community hub before it closes October 31.
Bobcaygeon, meanwhile, has more patios than some towns twice its size. Kawartha Coffee Co.’s eye-catching Bobcaygeon Constellation mural and comfortable seating will tempt passersby as long as the weather holds, while the Bobcaygeon Inn and Spa offers views right over the water. Over in Northumberland County, the Oasis Bar and Grill makes an excellent impression with its cozy, tree-sheltered space and fine food. Of course, there’s nothing more quintessentially summer than stopping for ice cream, so consider stopping at one of the Kawartha Dairy stores throughout the area. There are locations in Bobcaygeon, Peterborough, Lindsay, and elsewhere, best enjoyed before mitten weather hits.
That’s just scratching the surface – many towns throughout the Kawarthas Northumberland region would need their own dedicated blog posts to do the dining options justice.
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Provided you’ve got a decent sleeping bag, fall is arguably the best time to go camping. You won’t be bothered by bugs, and you’ll have your pick of more sites than you might in the high season.
If you’ve got a canoe and a taste for backcountry camping, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is hard to beat. The largest park in southern Ontario after Algonquin, it feels impressively wild. Campsites are so ingeniously situated in quiet bays it’s possible to feel like you have an entire lake to yourself. The deeper you get into the shoulder season, the more likely it is you really do.
If you’re looking for a few more amenities on your overnight trip, consider Emily Provincial Park, Warsaw Caves Conservation Area and Campground, or Ferris Provincial Park. All three offer convenient drive-up sites and unique attractions. Emily Park offers access to the Trent-Severn Waterway and excellent fishing, while Warsaw Caves has a series of fully spelunkable caves to complement its trail system. Ferris is notable for the impressively beautiful Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge, which leads to a selection of easy to moderate hiking trails. All three parks are open until the Thanksgiving weekend.
Daytrippers, meanwhile, will appreciate Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Visitors to the Learning Place Visitor Centre can learn about the traditions of the Ojibway people while marvelling at the largest known concentration of Indigenous rock carvings in Canada. Outside the Centre, bright blue-green McGinnis Lake is one of very few “meromictic” lakes, so named because they are comprised of layers of water that don’t intermix. Petroglyphs Provincial Park offers a fascinating lesson in human and natural history, and remains open until October 8.
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Have you had a chance to visit this Meromictic lake? Another amazing capture by @justensoule "Meromictic… McGinnis Lake during golden hour. Meromictic lakes are an incredibly rare effect where the water layers within the lake do no intermix creating an incredibly vivid layered effect. It really does look this bold to the eye, which is an incredible experience to explore. At about 1 in 1000 lakes, there are only a handful that can be accessed across North America. McGinnis is located in the incredible Petroglyphs Provincial Park. Thanks to the park staff with @ontarioparks for working with us on this @thekawarthas project." #Kawarthas #Peterborough #Petroglyphs @djiglobal #dronestagram #Inspire #Inspire2 #X5S #fpv #explore #canada #ExploreCanada #Ontario #travel #DiscoverON #wanderlust #meromictic
Canoeists may love an autumn paddle, but standup paddleboarders need to be a bit more conscious of the water temperature. It might be wise to book some time with Peterborough SUP (247 George St. N, Peterborough) sooner rather than later. You can rent a board and launch right in town near the aforementioned Silver Bean Cafe for a cruise up and down the Otonabee. Longer term rentals are available if you have another destination in mind, as are beginner lessons if you’re just starting out. They even have dog-friendly options and board-based yoga courses, so chances are there’s something for you at Peterborough SUP if you’re looking to spend some quality time on the water.
In Northumberland County, Campbellford Paddle offers standup paddleboard, kayak, canoe and pedalboat rentals by the hour, day, or week. Learn to stand up paddleboard on your own or with a World Paddle Association-certified instructor. If you get hooked, browse their selection of new and used boards, boats, and accessories.
Depending on where your trip takes you, you can find similar high-quality services at Buckeye Surf & Snow in Bobcaygeon, Kawartha Adventure Rentals in Burleigh Falls, and Adventure Outfitters in Lakefield. Inquire with Ontario Parks staff if you’re visiting a provincial park such as Balsam Lake near Coboconk or Ferris Provincial Park near Campbellford: both offer rentals in the park!
Cycling in the fall has its advantages, including milder temperatures, lower humidity, and gorgeous autumn scenery. About the only downside is the earlier sunset. Ambitious cyclists will need to set out a bit earlier in the day to complete one of Kawartha Northumberland’s longer trails, such as the Rice Lake Ramble or the Peterborough & the Kawarthas Classics Cottage Country 100. The Rice Lake Ramble begins in Cobourg and winds through pastoral landscapes before passing Peter’s Wood Provincial Nature Reserve Trail, where bikers can hop off to visit one of the sole surviving old growth maple-beech forests in Ontario. From there the trail heads north to follow the south shore of Rice Lake along the aptly named Rice Lake Scenic Drive.
For cyclists beginning in Peterborough, the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Classics routes offer six options ranging from 45 to 100 kilometres in length. Head north for lunch in Bridgenorth on the shortest of the routes, or work up a serious appetite and dine in McCracken’s Landing on the longest. Or take the middle ground and visit scenic Millbrook – you really can’t go wrong provided you’ve got a decent bike and time to explore.
If Kawartha Lakes is calling your name, visit the city’s cycling page for a comprehensive list of options. Biking the Trans Canada Trail near Omemee affords a fantastic view over Doube’s Trestle Bridge, the perfect place to stop to rehydrate and take a few photos.
Movies may be a year-round activity, but Highlands Cinemas (4131 County Rd. 121, Kinmount) is a seasonal treat. Its five theatres show first-run films to a mixture of cottagers and locals. Independently run cinemas are something of a rarity these days, but Highlands adds to its distinctive charm with a museum of film memorabilia and vintage projection equipment. If you like finding unusual attractions in unlikely places, you’ll definitely want to stop for a tour.
In the Lindsay area, the Lindsay Drive-In will satisfy both movie fans and nostalgia seekers. The box office opens at 7:30 every night, and the first-run films begin at dusk. Serious cinephiles might even want to catch a Dusk Til Dawn event and see four movies in a row on the Sunday of a long weekend. On cooler nights, bring a blanket and snuggle up with your viewing partner as close as a car’s bucket seats will let you. Chances are running out, as both Highlands Cinema and the Lindsay Drive-In close after Thanksgiving weekend.
Kawarthas Northumberland offers over 350 lakes to fishing enthusiasts, so this is a pretty safe recommendation. If you’re looking to narrow the choices down, Hastings has a sterling reputation. It was named Ultimate Fishing Town in a World Fishing Network competition in 2012. Perhaps in recognition of the sport’s importance to the community, the main bridge into town is the only road crossing in Ontario where fishing is officially permitted. Even an amateur stands a good chance of hooking a muskie, pickerel, pike, or bass.
A little further north, Bobcaygeon has played host to the Canada/US Walleye Tournament for nearly forty years. That’s a strong testament to the region’s appeal, and the variety of species is much larger than that. You don’t need to be feeling competitive either. With numerous marinas, rental locations, and public boat launches, you can spend a relaxing time tooling up and down the Trent-Severn Waterway searching for the ideal spot.
Fishing season ends as early as September 30 for some species, and as late as December 15 for muskie and bass. Limitation exist based on license type, size of fish, waterbody, etc., so visit www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/fishing for more details.
Looking for #FallFishing recommendations just east of Toronto? #Top5 Fall Fishing Destinations in the #Kawarthas via local pro @CHuskilson https://t.co/BpUo23DsQE#FishON #DiscoverON @KeepCanFishing #FallForPtbo pic.twitter.com/c9MuIjgYs4
— Kawarthas Northumberland (@perfectwknds) September 20, 2018
If you’ve got kids to look after, you’ll probably lament the end of splash pad season — few other simple pleasures can provide such howling delight. It’s worth trying to cram another play session or two before the valves are shut off in late October. Kawartha Lakes provides a handy list of their splash pad locations, as does the City of Peterborough.
Northumberland County, meanwhile, boasts the best of both worlds. Cobourg Beach is a true beauty with its white sand and ocean-like waves. It’s so large and luxurious it even hosts an annual sandcastle festival, yet the water remains shallow enough close to shore for kids to safely wade. A splash pad and play structure are nearby if the water’s too brisk. You’ll also be close a canteen and the delicious tacos of the Freakin Rican food truck, and downtown restaurants are only a block away. See if you can hit this one before the crowds clear out and the wind turns cold, because nothing evokes summer quite like a day at the beach.