I'm surrounded by a dazzling blanket of oranges, yellows and reds. Autumn! The hillsides of Beaver Valley are awash in the vibrant colours of fall. Beaver River is one of the major watersheds of Grey County, undulating farmland and forest bisected by crystal-clear trout streams such as the Beaver and fringed on the north by the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay's sparkling waters.
For fall colour tours, Grey County provides an ideal region in which to cruise. Grey is also famous for its waterfalls, scenic cascades scattered throughout the county. My wife and I combined a fall colour drive with a tour of some significant waterfalls.
Our morning tour begins with a hearty breakfast at Mylar and Loreta's, a renowned restaurant housed in an 1850's tavern in Singhampton. From there we head west on Grey Road 4, our first stop, Hoggs Falls, a secluded waterfall tucked away in the Boyne River valley just north of Flesherton. A short walk through a valley awash in autumn colour
leads to the 7-metre-high falls. Even though I know the car is 2 minutes away, the setting makes me feel as if I've
ventured into a remote wilderness with only the sound of cascading water.
A short drive leads us to the Eugenia Conservation area, and a 5-minute trail walk through a forest of evergreens brings us to a dramatic outlook. A glance to my right reveals Eugenia Falls plunging 23 metres into the Cuckoo Valley. With the sunlight sparkling off the falling water I realize how it derived its native name, Sparkling Waters. To my left, the stream winds its way down the steep-sided Cuckoo Valley, resplendent with greens, oranges and golds, and eventually empties into the Beaver Valley.
Continuing north on Grey Road 13, I clear a rise, and spread before me is a vista of breathtaking fall splendour. I look north down the expanse of the Beaver Valley, resplendent with all the glorious autumn hues. A short distance
down the grade is a pull-off that provides a scenic outlook down the valley, and an excellent opportunity for a photo
op of the vibrant colours.
Continuing north towards the town of Kimberly I see two skiing areas to my left: the Beaver Valley Ski Club and the Talisman Resort. At Kimberly, I have two choices of routes. Branching left on Grey Road 7 takes me north towards Meaford on the shores of Georgian Bay. This road rises gradually up the west side of the valley, and just
north of Epping is the Epping Outlook, which provides a dramatic view across the Beaver Valley to the east. Road 13 north from Kimberley veers northeast along the valley floor to Heathcote and Thornbury.
For the more adventurous, a detour east off Road 13 along Euphrasia Sideroad 6-7 takes you to the Old Baldy Conservation Area. A 15-minute walk through the woods brings me to a breathtaking outlook atop Old Baldy, an arch-shaped outcrop of the Niagara Escarpment that rises 152 metres above Beaver Valley, providing the most spectacular view of the fall colours in the valley.
Continuing north on Road 13 to Heathcote, I find a bridge crossing the Beaver River, and on the riverbank is Free Spirit Tours, a canoe and kayak outfitter that provides river tours. They offer trips of 1, 3 and 5-hour duration using 3 drop-off points upstream. They rent canoes/kayaks, provide guided tours or drop-off service if you bring your own canoe/kayak. With the gentle Beaver rated as a novice route, I realize that this would be a great alternative type of fall colour touring, and I promise to bring my canoe next year.
At Thornbury, I find the dam and fish ladder just before the mouth of the Beaver. The fish ladder provides a means for salmon to navigate past the dam into the Beaver to spawn. Above the dam, I watch a salmon lazily finning below the bottom of the ladder, resting before beginning its arduous run up the ladder.
For adventurous types, the Bruce Trail loops around the valley, and there are many places along the trail that can be accessed by road to provide day hikes. The trail also passes by Hoggs and Eugenia Falls, providing an opportunity to combine a waterfall tour with a fall colour tour.
Whatever means you choose to tour, the Beaver Valley provides a dazzling fall spectacle of vivid colours.
Gene Chambers is an author of three secondary school textbooks on computer studies in data processing, and a travel writer.
Transportation, visas, health, maps and temperature
Airlines (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airlines
Embassies/Consulates (Embassy World): http://www.embassyworld.com/
Health precautions (WHO): http://www.who.int/ith/en/
Google interactive map: http://maps.google.com/
Temperature (Temperature World): http://www.temperatureworld.com/