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 riverbeds. 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. The Thornbury Bakery Cafe has a great selection of goodies to take with you on your road trip, too.
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 along 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 beehive) and an old-fashioned hardware store with original wooden floors and a hand cranked cash register! Just south of Clarksburg is The Farmers Pantry, where you will find fun for the whole family! They offer u-pick apples, a country market store, home baked goods, a petting zoo and mini-golf.
Along this route you will also find several of our wine, beer and cider producers just a few kms from the main route (They are listed on the Google map). 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 - grab a snack 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!), Garage 13 and the Flying Chestnut Kitchen. There is a very unique and new business in Eugenia called Preposterous Pumpkins. They have pumpkins and gourds of every shape, colour and size.
If you're in the area during the last weekend of September, there are three art studio tours to check out:
Saugeen Autumn Leaves Studio Tour is from September 29 - October 1, 2023
Meaford Art Tour on September 30, 2023
Tour of the Arts from September 30 - October 1, 2023
Be aware: road construction is taking place on Grey Road 7 through September and October. Areas of the road are closed for construction.
If you went down to Eugenia, you will want to turn around and head back north on Grey Road 13 until you meet Grey Road 30 and turn left onto Grey Road 30. There are some spectacular viewpoints along Grey Road 30 as you climb up Bowles Hill. At the stop sign at Hutchisons Corners, continue north on 7th Line.
7th Line is a picturesque road with beautiful rolling hills and scenery. Be sure to watch for farm machinery and cyclists on your journey and share the road. You will start to see Georgian Bay in the distance, creating a new contrast between the blue horizon and the fall colours. You will pass through the village of Rockyn, where you can stop for a sweet treat at the Rocklyn Inn Ice Cream & Snack Shop. You will also pass by Good Family Farms, where you can purchase organic goods grown right on their farm, as well as other local products from around the area.
When you arrive in Meaford, you'll notice that it's decked out in Scarecrows from early September until late October as part of their annual Scarecrow Invasion. If you’re in Meaford on September 29, 2023, you can check out the Scarecrow Invasion Parade and Family Fun Festival, too! If you're there September 30 to October 1, the annual Apple Harvest Craft Show is back, as well.
Please drink responsibly, know your limits and do not drink and drive.