Whether you’re a regular on Grey County’s back roads, or you’re new to exploring our area, this Beaver Valley fall drive is a great introduction to the region’s autumn beauty.
We recommend starting your journey along the southern shores of Georgian Bay in Meaford or Thornbury, and the ending your drive in the opposite town to where you started in. They both have quaint downtowns lined with unique stores, coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants. For this particular route, we will start in Thornbury and end in Meaford.
If you happen to be in Thornbury in late September through October, you can start by checking out the fish jumping at the Thornbury Dam and Fish Ladder. Adult spawning Chinook Salmon are aggressive jumpers and provide exciting viewing as they migrate up stream and make their way upstream to find suitable areas in the gravel river beds. You can catch a great view from the Mill Cafe, with a patio that overlooks the dam.
You’re also now in the heart of apple country. Did you know Grey County produces almost 25% of Ontario’s apples? With apple harvest in full swing, you’ll want to pick up some fresh produce at one of the many local fruit stands or markets along the way. Discover culinary, drink and outdoor experiences through the Apple Pie Trail.
From Thornbury heading south on Grey Road 13, you will head right through the charming village of Clarksburg, fondly known as “Artsburg”. It’s home to many talented artists, art galleries and studios, and unique stores like a Honey House shaped like a bee hive and an old fashioned hardware store with original wooden floors and a hand cranked cash register!
Along this route you will also pass by or come close to several of our wine, beer and cider producers. Stop in and enjoy a tasting or pairing in a beautiful setting at The Roost, Georgian Hills Vineyards, Beaver Valley Orchard & Cidery, Thornbury Village Cidery, Windswept Cider Spy Cider House & Distillery, or Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery. You can also purchase products to take home and enjoy once you’re done touring! (Curb side pick up is available at most locations.)
Cruising down Grey Road 13, you’ll be in the core of the Beaver Valley and see some of the prettiest fall views in Ontario. The village of Heathcote is also home to the Blackbird Pie Company if you’re already hungry, or take one for the road!
Once you meet Grey County Road 7, turn left so you don’t miss the villages of Kimberley and Eugenia little farther to the south. There are some hidden gems you do not want to miss in both villages, including the Kimberley General Store, Justin's Oven (wood-fired pizza!), the Eugenia Falls Emporium and the Flying Chestnut's Backyard Market happening every Thursday until Thanksgiving.
Heading back north on Grey County Road 7, you will really see the majesty of the Beaver Valley as it stretches up on both sides of the road, blanketed in colour. You can stop at Epping Lookout at the top of the hill for a view looking back. Trust us, it’s worth the stop! There’s also a picnic pavilion here, so if you grabbed some food to go earlier, this is a great place to take a break and a little hike.
Continue heading north on Grey Road 7 back towards Meaford. You will start to see Georgian Bay in the distance, creating a new contrast between the blue horizon and the fall colours. Meaford is usually decked out in Scarecrows this time of year for their annual Scarecrow Invasion which has been cancelled this year, but expect to see some locals still decorating their storefront and homes. They are already planning to be back bigger and better next year for their 25th Anniversary!