Discover the fall colours on the road-less-paved.
In Grey County, gravel roads are a part of life; we live on them, commute on them and spend much of the winter sliding around on them. So it’s surprising when we hear some people are wary of the road less paved. But the thing is, if you want to avoid the crowds, experience incredible scenery and find those ‘secret spots’ you simply need to get off the asphalt. Don’t be afraid to turn off your GPS, fold up your map and go where your whimsy takes you. Here are a couple of our favourite gravel roads for taking in the best of the fall colours: without the crowds.
Old Baldy Road
It’s time to take your Subaru, SUV, or heck, even your Toyota Matrix, off the asphalt. And this road will prove to you that anything is possible. In the heart of Beaver Valley, the road up to Old Baldy is a doozy; twisty, turny and uber steep, this road is not for the faint of heart. But the top is worth it. Find it just north of Kimberley (after a sweet stop at the Kimberley General Store) on Grey Road 13 (by the salt storage domes). It’s Sideroad 7B. Taking you from the bottom of the valley to the top of the escarpment, this road offers views all the way up. And an exhilarating drive too.
Lower Valley Road
Remember that time you drove all the way to Algonquin to experience the fall colours? Sure it was beautiful, but remember how disappointing it was to discover 68 other families had the exact same idea? And the only place to stop was a narrow shoulder on the side of Highway 60? This won’t be your experience on the Lower Valley Road. This is the kind of road that makes you wish you were in a rally car; twisting and rolling, this bit of gravel road is dying for a couple e-brake drifts (please, don’t as the Bruce Trail pops out here). But you won’t want to drive along here too fast anyway, because it’s so beautiful. Surrounded by hardwood growth, there’ll be tons of colours in this little stretch and if you feel like a tiny hike to Hoggs Falls, well then you win this autumn.
The best way to get to the rock climber’s paradise of Metcalfe Rock, is the southern end of Tenth Line. This stretch of gravel takes you right past Metcalfe. Head east at the T-junction just south of Metcalfe and you head right into the heart of Kolapore Uplands Management Area. There’s enough singletrack in here to get lost for weeks, but the road is easy to navigate. Fall is absolutely gorgeous through here.
Osprey-The Blue Mountains Townline
Following this road west of Concession 10 (where it’s called Sideroad 30 & 31 Nottawasaga), the town line becomes gravel, and starts ascending into the rolling hills of the Pretty River Valley. Don’t tell anyone, but this is about the best view you can get of the valley; colourful trees cover the hillsides and you can see all the way down to Georgian Bay on a clear day. Whoever named it the Pretty River Valley was probably standing on this road on a fall day.
Sideroad 9, Duncan
Sideroad 9 is a thrilling up and down along the border of the Duncan Escarpment Provincial Nature Reserve. You’ll get more amazing views of the fall colours and if you pull off to the side of the little bridge at the bottom of the valley, you may even spot a beaver or two. If you go for a quick hike on the Bruce Trail in Duncan, you’ll also find some cool crevice caves.
The West Back Line
If you’re tired of cruising behind someone doing 70 in an 80 zone on Highway 10, then take the dirt road that parallels it; West Back Line. Not only will you avoid the aggravation, you’ll experience an amazing tunnel of colourful trees that is tough to beat.
Don’t get stuck in the hustle and bustle of downtown Kemble (just kidding, it’s not much more than an intersection), by taking the Kemble Bypass. This narrow little gem skirts below the colourful forest canopy and becomes the Georgian Range Road as it follows the shoreline of Georgian Bay. The Kemble Mountain Management Area provides some decent elevation to get up high and really admire the full colours of fall.
Concession Road 12
Parallelling the major artery of the Grey Bruce Line, Concession Road 12 is the much more relaxing and scenic way to cut north and south across Grey County. As you watch the colourful bush and farmlands stream by on the roadside, don’t be surprised to see a horse and buggy or ten; this be amish country. And keep an eye out for farm gate produce; baked goods and hand-crafted furniture. The food makes for great travel companions. The furniture? Not so much.
Colpoy’s Range RoadUnless you’re driving a military-grade Hummer, you may want to simply admire this road from afoot. Heck, if you like the paint on the sides of your car, take our advice and just hike up this road. You can park on the road-side before it descends. Follow the road along the edge of the escarpment for epic views of Georgian Bay combined with the colours surrounding Bruce’s Caves and Wiarton.
Choose your own road
The best part about exploring is getting lost. And it’s okay to get lost. Grey County locals are friendly enough that we’ll point you in the right direction if you need it. If you see a gravel road up ahead and wonder where it goes, follow it. It’ll all be okay. You might even find a gem we don’t know about yet.