5 reasons to make a midweek visit to Arrowhead Provincial Park this fall

Arrowhead Provincial Park offers visitors a change to experience beautiful fall colours within the heart of Muskoka.

Weekends at Arrowhead are lively with lots of visitors and activity, but if you’re looking for that true serene “nature” experience, try visiting during the week!

Here are five park features you won’t want to miss:

*New in 2023*

The gatehouse has moved all the way up to the Visitor Centre this year.

That’s where the park store is too, so it’s your one-stop shop for anything you might need! That goes for Arrowhead merchandise, Ontario Parks swag, and last-minute camping needs, as well as permits and registration.

But remember: the park now has paperless permits. So if you register online (don’t forget to add your vehicle license plate!), then there’s no need to register at the gatehouse!

1. Big Bend Lookout

Arrowhead is known for the spectacular geological phenomenon known as “Big Bend.”

view of geological feature with fall colours in background

Created from the years of glacial river sediment, build up, and erosion, the East River “glacial delta” has become a large attraction for the park.

aerial view of geological feature

Interpretive panels on the viewing platform detail the intriguing history of this natural wonder.

This view is breathtaking in the fall, especially on a crisp morning hike!

view of fall colours in forest

Watch as the colours glow with the rising sun!

2. Scenic Stubb’s Falls

While walking along the Little East River through a beautiful hardwood forest, enjoy the well-maintained path that leads down to Stubb’s Falls.

view of bridge over river in fall

Please note, there are stairs on this trail that lead down to the main viewing area.

This easy to moderate hike takes about 45 minutes.

fall colours over waterfall
In the fall, bright colours surround Stubb’s Falls as the powerful water rushes onto polished rocks, continuously shaping the landscape

Large rocks surrounding the falls have a long and interesting history, brought to their final resting place by the last ancient glacier to advance over the park.

If you’re up for an adventure, paddle the Little East River, portage around the falls, and continue into the Big East River. Staff are happy to help plan the best route for you!

3. Awe-inspiring Arrowhead Lake

While it may be too chilly for sunning on the beach, the views of Arrowhead Lake from the notable red walking bridge are well-worth the dwindling temperatures.

bridge over lake

This quiet, motorboat-free lake is surrounded by a 5.1 km multi-use trail, which takes 1.5-2 hours to walk and 30-45 minutes to bike.

While the fall season can create muddy and slippery sections on the trail, the vibrant colours are sure to wow!

lake with fall colour forested shore

Keep your eye out for wildlife along this trail, as the path ventures into the quiet, undisturbed habitat of many park residents.

Rent canoes or kayaks in the park or bring your own this fall to explore the lake further.

canoe on lake

Remember, the water is much colder as we enter the fall season! Check out this post for tips on fall paddling safety!

4. Marvelous Mayflower

The display of fall colours on small, spring-fed Mayflower Lake is a photographer’s dream!

In September and October, when the leaves begin to change in Muskoka, there are many locations to snap the perfect picture. But on Mayflower Lake, you just won’t find a bad angle!

fall colours

On shore, the 1.5 km Mayflower Lake Trail offers a rugged hike up hills, across boardwalks, and through the trees; it’s excellent for birdwatching.

Be sure to wear proper footwear on this hike as it can get slippery during the fall!

view of lake

Along the west shore of the lake, you will see a small creek flowing out, which has been dammed by both humans and beavers.

Decaying animal and plant material has accumulated in front of this dam, creating a shallow cattail marsh.

view of lake from trail

If you’re more into fishing, Mayflower Lake is stocked with Brook Trout, and, in recent years, Lake Chub and Red Bellied Dace have been found.

Please remember that this wetland habitat is extremely fragile and should not be disturbed. Avoid the lakeshore and remain on the trail to fish.

5. Explore the park store

Located in the Arrowhead Visitor Centre between East River and Roe Campgrounds, the park store is brimming with options to commemorate your stay.

visitor centre

Check out the in-house designs and local goodies while you enjoy your time in the park.

This is also where you can rent equipment, such as canoes and kayaks (or extension cords if you need them)!

interior of park store

Park staff are happy to assist you in directions or questions you have during your stay.

Remember to pop by and say hello!

Planning an overnight visit?

The campgrounds contain electrical and non-electrical sites as well as 13 camp cabins, conveniently close to the trails and Arrowhead Lake access.

Comfort stations with hot showers and flush toilets are centrally located. A trailer sanitation station is also available in the East River Campground.

day use area

The day use area, with access to beaches, rentals, the park store, and a reservable picnic shelter, is central in the park.

An off-leash pet-exercise area is also available along Arrowhead Lake, off of Lumby Campground.

Year-round adventures

While we hope you’ll visit Arrowhead for its spectacular fall colours, it’s also known for its excellent winter facilities.

Once the snow falls, this is the place for cross-country ski trails, snow shoe trails, outdoor skating trail and heated roofed accommodations!

family in cabin

Check out this post for more information.

While you’re in the area…

Huntsville is a five-minute drive from the park, with attractions like Lion’s Lookout, Muskoka Heritage Place, and the downtown core.

Oxtongue River Ragged Falls
Oxtongue River Ragged Falls Provincial Park

Oxtongue River-Ragged Falls Provincial Park, located on Highway 60 on the border of Algonquin Provincial Park, is about 30 minutes away by car. These falls are one of the top 10 in Ontario!

Fall colours along this corridor are world famous, and worth the detour on your way home. Please visit this post for more information on visiting Algonquin in the fall time.

view of fall colours
Algonquin Provincial Park

Remember, Arrowhead offers advance day use permits, so a reservation is required to guarantee access to the park!

Reservations can be made up to five days in advance through our reservations website.

Book your trip today!