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FALL / AUTUMN at the Algonquin Lakeside in on Oxtongue Lake

Fall Colours on Oxtongue Lake
Fall Colours on Oxtongue Lake

The Algonquin Park Region has long been known for its' stunning beauty in the Autumn / Fall season. This is the time of dramatic change, and color and landscape when mother nature out does herself, with breathtaking scenery. Photographers both novice and professional come from far and wide for the perfect shot, be it sunrise, or sunset, mist covered lakes and panoramic views. Bull Moose at this time, in all their glory, at their peak with their glossy coats and full Racks, hoping to attract a mate.

Autumn has long been an inspiration for writers, poets,photographers, and artists alike.

Cavalcade of Colour:
It's mostly science, mixed with a little bit of magic

Autumn in Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Algonquin Park may arguably be the loveliest season of the year, thanks to the annual spectacle of fall colours. Throughout the area, tree leaves change colour with the seasons but in many regions, the predominant colour scheme is a more muted yellow and gold. However, it is the vibrant fiery reds punctuating the forest canopy that make the greatest impact and that's where Huntsville and Lake of Bays and Algonquin Park really stand out.

Catch the Canadian spirit with Back Country Tours' Fall Colour Tour! Back Country Tours' professional ATV guides will show you around Algonquin Park on our automatic ATV rentals. See the Algonquin Park leaf colours on our ATV tour. No experience necessary! All gear supplied and safety lessons are included. Drive where most people never get to go and see vivid fall colors that will make your eyes pop! Our guides will show you some of our best deep forest trails full of moose, deer and turkey’s. You will drive through the great Canadian Shield through mud, water and rocks! Guaranteed to be your highlight of your fall adventure or vacation. Please contact Back Country Tours for more info or to book.

Why Leaves Change Colour

Fall Colours in MuskokaThe largest factor in why leaves change color in the autumn is photoperiodism, the length of day and night. As the nights get longer in autumn, the process of senescence, which is a term for the collective process that lead to the aging and death of a plant or plant part, like a leaf, becomes apparent through color change and the falling of leaves.

The changing colour of the leaves in the fall is just part of a natural process of seasonal change. Scientists have recently come up with an explanation as to why a tree with no red pigments in its leaves during the spring and summer turns red in the fall.

"The recycling of nutrients in the leaves is probably the best theory and has the best support for it," states Tom Noland, a Tree Biochemist at the Ontario Forest Research Institute of the Ministry of Natural Resources in Sault Ste. Marie. "Since not all trees turn red, the ones that do turn red are probably better in recycling their nutrients than the ones that do not."

Scientists have long been able to better explain how tree leaves change colour than to describe why they do. In the fall, cooler temperatures, and shorter days, serve as a trigger to a tree that it needs to start getting rid of its leaves. And once the colour has reached its peak, the leaves start to fall off the tree. To understand the process of how tree leaves change colour in the fall, one must visualize a leaf with different coloured layers. These layers disintegrate, reveal and/or mix pigments to show off the tree's natural fall foliage colours.

The temperature and cloud cover can make a big difference in a tree's red colors from year to year and the amount of rain in a year also affects autumn leaf color. A severe drought can delay the arrival of fall colors by a few weeks. A warm, wet period during fall will lower the intensity, or brightness, of autumn colors. A severe frost will kill the leaves, turning them brown and causing them to drop early.

The best autumn colours come when there has been: Fall Beauty in Muskoka

  • a warm, wet spring
  • a summer that's not too hot or dry, and
  • a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights.

Chlorophyll is the green pigment in trees and plants that absorbs sunlight and helps photosynthesis occur so that a tree can make its own sugar for energy and growth. The fall brings less sunlight and cooler temperatures so photosynthesis slows down, causing the chlorophyll in the leaves to break down and reveal the fall's coat of many colours.

Why Leaves Fall

A tree's roots, branches and twigs can endure freezing temperatures, but most leaves are not so tough. On a tree with broad leaves, like a maple or a birch, the tender thin leaves, made up of cells filled with water sap, will freeze in winter. Any plant tissue unable to live through the winter must be sealed off and shed to ensure the tree's survival.

As sunlight decreases in autumn, the veins that carry sap into and out of a leaf gradually close. A layer of cells, called the separation layer, forms at the base of the leaf stem. When this layer is complete, the leaf is separated from the tissue that connected it to the branch, and it falls. Oak leaves are the exception. The separation layer never fully detaches the dead oak leaves, and they remain on the tree through winter.

Maple Leaf in Muskoka


Chlorophyll is the pigment in leaves that makes them appear green.

Carotenoids and xanthophylls are yellow and orange pigments in the leaves that make leaves appear yellow or gold in the fall.

Anthocyanins - usually found in the leaves in the spring or fall, not in the summer - are the red, crimson, or purple pigments found in leaves that make them look orange (in combination with carotenoids and xanthophylls), red, crimson, or purple in the fall.

Photosynthesis is the process that describes the use of chlorophyll to convert light energy into sugar, carbohydrates and water.

Fall Foliage Facts

Leaves of some trees such as birches and yellow poplar are always yellow in the fall, never red.

The fall leaves of a few trees, including sugar maple, are usually red but may also be yellow.

Unlike the bright colors of flowers which attract pollinators, the bright colors of fall foliage are a byproduct of chemical changes as the trees start to go dormant. These colors have no apparent biological function or significance.

Muskoka is blessed with intense, long-lasting and varied fall colour.

The change in day length (photoperiod) that causes the chemical changes in the trees leading to the bright colors starts June 21, the longest day of the year, as the sun starts to move south and the days become shorter.

Leaves have just as much yellow pigment (xanthophyll) in July when they are green as they do in October when they are yellow. In July the darker green pigment (chlorophyll) masks the yellow color.

Evergreen trees may shed their older leaves, which often turn bright yellow, in spring rather than fall, but they never drop all their leaves at one time, thus staying green all year.

Bright sunlight is essential for the production of the red (anthocyanin) pigment in the fall leaves; if a black mask is placed on part of a leaf before it turns red, the part of the leaf under the mask will turn yellow while the exposed part will turn red.

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