Fall Leaves in Ottawa

One of the best things about living in the Ottawa-Gatineau area in the fall is the changing of the leaves. As sad as I am to say goodbye to summer, I love this time of year. I love the sweaters, the hot cider and watching the leaves change color (which doesn't mean I’m ready for winter at all!)

The end of September and all through October are the best times to see the changing of the leaves.  In Gatineau Park, there are tons of trails to explore and there are also quite a few special events occurring during its annual "Fall Rhapsody" celebration, which honours all things outdoors. My favorite place in the Gatineau region to get an absolutely awesome view of the leaves and the whole Ottawa Valley is, of course, the Champlain Lookout.

There are more than 90 kilometres of trails and bike paths in Gatineau Park! If you really want to learn more about the coloured leaves as you hike, you can head up on Saturdays and Sundays in September and October for “Follies of the Fall Forest”, a free guided tour. It is fun for the whole family with an introduction at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre followed by a guided walk on the Sugarbush Trail.

For those adventurous hikers, the Eardley Escarpment rises 270 metres from the floor of the Ottawa Valley and extends over more than 30 kilometres. Also, Lusk Cave, in the Philippe Lake area, is an easy hike along but the 10-kilometre round trip takes about four hours to walk.

For those with little ones who want a really nice nature trail to walk, there are lots of places around Ottawa like the Stony Swamp trails near Bell’s Corners, Green’s Creek, to the east of Ottawa and Pine Grove, to the south of Ottawa.

No matter where you go in the Ottawa-Gatineau area this time of year, you’re pretty much guaranteed a great view of the leaves. By next weekend, Fall Rhapsody will be in full swing so don’t forget to get out there and enjoy one of the things that makes living in the Ottawa area so great!

Where's your favourite place to see the leaves in Ottawa?

Apple Picking at Mountain Orchard

photo (8)It's that time of year again. The air is getting crisper and the kids are settling into their school routine. For me, fall always means apple picking. Every fall for the past several years, my girls gather a bunch of friends and we go apple picking. Mountain Orchard has always been our orchard of choice. It's a great place for families, it's close to Ottawa (only a short 40 minute drive on the 416 toward Kempville) and the majority of the trees there are actually the direct descendants of the original McIntosh tree, first discovered by John McIntosh in Dundela, Ontario, in 1829. I think that's pretty cool.

donut5Mountain Orchard is about more then just apple picking. There are corn maizes, wagon rides, a hay jump and (best of all) the hot fresh apple cider donuts that are made right in front of you. They are the real reason we go back every year. Well, that and the fresh apple cider.

16My girls love climbing into the apple trees to get the apples and there are trees for kids of all ages - with ladders for the older kids to climb and low hanging branches for the little ones.

No matter where you go apple picking, it's a great way to spend time with your family and friends and get outside to enjoy the fall weather. All the apple orchard near Ottawa are open now and many, like Mountain Orchard, are open every day until the apple picking season is done (usually by the end of September).

Have you been apple picking yet? We're going again this weekend! 




Autumn at Parc Omega

by Carly

Our family is not hugely into Halloween - for no particular reason, though the Little Man has always found it more scary than fun and so we downplay it for his sake and ours.  It wasn't a huge event for me when I was a child, so perhaps that's partly why we don't do the haunted tractor rides, the pumpkin patch or the parties.

We do, however, have a mad, mad love affair with Fall. Jake, now five, shares in this enthusiasm for Autumn.  The last two months have seen our weekends full of family related activities as mundane as cleaning out the garage and as pleasant as visits to out of town relatives.  Needless to say, Jake's been begging for a weekend activity centered around him, so this past Sunday his Nana and I took him to Parc Omega.

He'd visited with a day camp over the summer, but was frustrated by the height of the bus windows and his inability to reach the animals in order to hand feed them.  Since then he's been asking to go back.  At just over 8 months pregnant, I'm not up for wandering around a museum for hours or hiking through Gatineau Park.  But Parc Omega was a great option since you can both drive through the park, and stop from time to time to meander along the walking trails.

We saw caribou, red and white-tailed deer, bison, timber and arctic wolves, coyotes, wild pigs, blue herons, geese, beavers, moose, blue jays, raccoons, black bear, goats, ibexs, foxes, skunks and more.

Hearing Jake's squeals of laughter as the caribou and deer ate carrots he fed them through the car windows warmed my heart.  It was a perfect fall day and a lovely drive through Quebec, surrounded by beautiful hills ablaze in colour on one side and the Ottawa river on the other.

If you go . . . Parc Omega is near Montebello, about a 45-60 minute drive from Ottawa.  If you want to enjoy the walking trails, wear comfortable clothes and shoes!  The park is open year-round with prices ranging from $15-$18 per adult and $13-$7 for children depending on their age and the season.

Carrots are the preferred food of choice for the animals because they're healthy and easy to feed (long enough that little fingers don't need to worry about being nipped).  You can purchase them in the gift shop, or bring your own.  (We brought 6 lbs and went through them in minutes - I do wish we'd brought more!)

There is a canteen on-site, though like many tourist attractions, the prices are a little high.  You can bring your own picnic lunch and eat at a variety of spots throughout the park.

Depending on how busy the park is and how quickly you choose to drive through it, plan on spending at least a couple of hours meeting all the animals along the way.

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 5 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.

The Spencerville Fair

By Shawna It’s that time of year again: the harvest ripens and, to celebrate, rural communities everywhere put on agricultural fall fairs.  This weekend is the Spencerville Fair (about an hour south of Ottawa off the 416), and a few years ago our family started a tradition of going. 

 There are tons of things to do for kids.  In addition to the midway and candy floss that come to mind whenever you think of even the smallest, parking lot fair, there are tractor pulls, animal displays, horse riding competitions, farm-oriented displays, awarding of ribbons for baked goods, and a corn-boil.  There’re are also special events aimed at just kids: Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo always puts on a display, last year there were acrobats, and this year we’re planning on getting there in time for the greased pig chase at 3pm.  

 Alas, the pumpkin and squash crop did not thrive at our place this summer, but last year my daughter Sage even entered a pumpkin in the giant pumpkin contest and got a ribbon for 5th place!  Next year we’re going to build raised beds and try to scoop some actual prize money.

Too late to make it to the Spencerville Fair?  Next week is the Richmond Fair (which has a special section put aside for kids only, and a breastfeeding area), and the week after is the Carp Fair.

Shawna is mom to 4-year-old Sage and 2-year-old Harris.  She has  been writing online since 2003, and her latest project is a fledgling photography blog.  She loves fall fair season as much as her kids.