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.
The leaves are just starting to change, and Grey County will soon be covered in vibrant fall colours. While it can be a popular spot for fall touring, visiting the Beaver Valley mid-week will allow you to enjoy quieter roads and less crowding at popular stops along the way. You can also check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report for an update on the fall colour progression.
We recommend starting your journey along the southern shores of Georgian Bay in Meaford or Thornbury, and then 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 are in Thornbury from late September through October, you can start by checking out the salmon jumping at the Thornbury Dam and Fish Ladder. Adult spawning Chinook Salmon are aggressive jumpers and provide exciting viewing as they migrate and make their way upstream to find suitable spawning areas in the gravel river beds. You can catch a great view from the Mill Cafe, with a patio that overlooks the dam. If you're there on a weekend, you can grab a frozen treat at Pom Pom Treat Hut and take a walk along the river for a closer look.
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 grab some fresh produce at one of the many local fruit stands or markets along the way. Discover more apple inspired 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 the 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, Thornbury Village Cidery, Windswept Cider, Spy Cider House & Distillery, Grey and Gold Cider, Still Fields Brewery or Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery. You can also purchase products to take home and enjoy once you’re done touring!
Cruising down Grey Road 13, you’ll be in the core of the Beaver Valley and this is where you'll see some of the prettiest fall views in Ontario. The village of Heathcote is also home to the Blackbird Pie Company if you’re hungry, or take one of their amazing creations for the road.
Once you meet Grey County Road 7, turn left so you don’t miss the villages of Kimberley and Eugenia a little farther to the south. There are some hidden gems you do not want to miss, including the Kimberley General Store, Justin's Oven (wood-fired pizza!), the newly opened Garage 13 and the Flying Chestnut Kitchen.
If you happen to be in the area between September 30 and October 2, 2022, don't miss the Autumn Leaves Studio Tour, where you can get a peak at local artists' studios and galleries.
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 a picnic pavilion here, so if you grabbed some food to go earlier, this is a great place to take a snack break and a little hike.
Continue heading north 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 will be decked out in Scarecrows from early September until late October as part of their annual Scarecrow Invasion. Take a drive around town, and if you have time, also check out Bognor, Leith and Annan, who are also taking part in the fun this year. If you’re in Meaford on September 30, you can check out the Scarecrow Invasion Parade and Family Fun Festival, too! If you're there on October 1 or 2, the annual Apple Harvest Craft Show is back, as well.
Please drink responsibly, know your limits and do not drink and drive.