In early October, my husband needed to make a stop in Waterloo to collect some Corvette parts. Rather than going there and back in a day (Sudbury to Waterloo is about four hours) we decided to make a weekend of it by staying overnight in Guelph. Although I’d visited the Guelph/Waterloo area before, I’d never had time to do any hiking there and was keen to try out some of the local trails as well as sampling the local restaurants.
After collecting the parts, we still had a whole Saturday afternoon ahead of us, so I decided we should head to the Elora Gorge conservation area, promoted in the tourist leaflets as one of the most scenic spots in Southern Ontario.
Access is regulated with barriers and ticket kiosks and costs $5.75 for the day for adults and $3.00 for under-15s . The trail network is not very extensive–just 3km in total–with lots of fences and warnings to keep away from the cliff edge. It was certainly very busy on the trails with a mix of locals and enthusiastic tourists photographing everything in sight, even the graffiti! If you’re not into hiking, many other activities are available such as camping, tubing, fishing, and a splashpad.
On the menu for Saturday night was the Fat Duck Bistro in Guelph, a British-style “gastro pub.” Previously I’ve been to the Shakespeare Arms (within reasonable walking distance from the Best Western). They both have similar menus with hearty comfort food such as savoury pies and curries–the type of dishes you don’t see too often on a typical “Canadian” restaurant menu. In keeping with the British spirit, I enjoyed some Strongbow cider, made in my home county of Herefordshire.
For anyone thinking of moving to Guelph, our cab driver was very enthusiastic about the area, citing it as one of the safest places to live in Canada and telling us that they typically don’t have much snow before January. She advised avoiding the downtown at weekends when the university students are around—which is probably good advice for anywhere with a sizeable student population.
We started Sunday with a driving tour on country roads – through Fergus and Arthur, then east to Erin and Mono Cliffs. The Hills of Headwaters area, as it’s branded, has beautiful scenery with rolling hills and rivers; it’s not hard to understand why so many Torontonians buy second homes in this area. If you want to check out some huge country mansions, just take a drive through the Caledon area.
Mono Cliffs Park was more my sort of hiking than Elora Gorge–longer trails and less crowds, although a popular spot for dog walkers and families enjoying the warm weather and fall colours. The somewhat optimistically-described “lakes” were more like pools it has to be said, but it’s a very pretty park and one I’d like to return to. Also, you’re not forced to pay for a whole day if you’re only staying a few hours.
We took a scenic route home, stopping off at an Asian restaurant in Alliston near Barrie: Spring Basil. There was a huge menu. After spending a while trying to decipher which dishes were vegetarian, I turned the page to find two whole pages worth of veggie fare! I also got to try bubble tea–a first for me. And my husband–not usually a tea fan–enjoyed it too.
The colours here in Northern Ontario are now categorised as “past peak,” but there are still opportunities further south to view some amazing fall colours. Checkout the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report or the Fall Colour Progression Report for more information.