Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/30/2014

Currin Bridge by Instagrammer erica2

Currin Bridge by Instagrammer erica2

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Welcome to Eugene, Cascades & Coast, where pink and yellow trees dot the landscape and every neighborhood street is alive with the flair of fall color. This weekend, may we suggest some urban hiking? You won’t have to travel too far beyond your own backyard to immerse yourself in a wide spectrum of color, fleeting as it may be. Hike up Lincoln Street, beginning from downtown Eugene, and take it to the top. This pretty little stretch will tie a few miles under your belt, pass you through a wooded dog park, and land you in a graveyard, the Mount Cavalry Cemetery. Watch out for ghosts and goblins. Boo! The Fifth Street Public “Haunted” Market is all tricked out in pumpkins and cobwebs and ready for trick-or-treaters. Admission to the family-friendly event is three cans of food to be donated to Food For Lane County or $3.
Head to the Eugene, Cascades & Coast website for more Halloween festivals.

Eugene by Instagram naoyagram

Eugene by Instagram naoyagram

Oregon Coast
When the rains come, water levels rise. Check out Alder Glen Falls, an ever-changing waterfall in the town of Tillamook that flows with more gusto once the wetter seasons set in. Situated in a moss-draped setting of alder and maple trees along the banks of the Nestucca River, this spot is sure to please fall foliage hunters. Further south, things are getting spooky in North Bend. Experience CarnEVIL, a haunted house presented by the players of the Little Theater on the Beach. Ambiance will be complete with costumes, lighting effects, wicked music, and mazes that would fool a rat. The price is $5 for adults and $3 for those under 13, though the staff suggests that no very young children attend as the performances are scarily realistic!

Linfield College by doublemdesignandphotography

Linfield College by doublemdesignandphotography

Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley has reached its peak. Recent storms have made for dark grey skies, and vibrancy is dying off. Leaves are falling and snow is in the forecast for higher elevations, so get out and enjoy the last of the fall colors while you still can! Take a scenic drive to Silverton, and visit the Oregon Garden, open to the public 365 days a year and always offering something special to see. Throughout October, Wave Broadband will be hosting Scarecrows in the Garden, a fun, month-long display of locally made scarecrows. Vote for you favorite, and you might win an overnight stay at the Oregon Garden Resort.

Portland by Instagrammer bryangeli

Portland by Instagrammer bryangeli

Greater Portland
Greater Portland is looking good. The Camassia Natural Area, located 30 minutes outside of Portland in West Linn, is wonderful for walking about and viewing some excellent fall foliage. Volunteers with the Nature Conservancy have restored more than 26 acres of oak woodlands and meadows for public access. This is a great spot for birders. Ospreys nest onsite, and chickadees, warblers, and vireos can be found on the forest’s edge. To put yourself in a Halloween state of mind, make this your weekend to visit Pittock Mansion. Not only does this mansion overlook the city, it is also rumored to be haunted.

Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Rain should hold off this weekend in the Mt. Hood and Gorge areas, so take a walk in Tucker County Park. This park, located on the Hood River, is a go-to for locals, with its lush vegetation and easy access to the Columbia Gorge. Tucker Park is a designated viewing area on the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail and is sure to offer an all-inclusive fall foliage experience. Fish for trout in the river, explore the natural paths, and wind your way through this wonderful forest.

Central Oregon
The fall colors in Bend and around Central Oregon are somewhere between past peak and done for the season. A few trees have fully shed their leaves, but most are still showing their fall glory. A drive down Highway 20, near Suttle Lake, reveals orange vine maples, a white to yellow carpet of ferns, and golden tamaracks. Snow is coming, and soon, the Old McKenzie Highway (Hwy 242) will close for the season. This might be the last weekend to visit the Dee Wright Observatory and its 65-square mile lava flow, so seize this route before it becomes unavailable.

Eastern Oregon
Fall color in Baker County is at its peak. Depending on winds from seasonal storms, color is expected to remain vibrant for at least another week. The best colors right now are in the valleys, particularly in the towns Baker City, Haines, and Halfway. Higher in the mountains, the once glorious aspens are starting to bare their branches. Tamaracks, however, are still looking great.

Southern Oregon
A chill has spread across the land of Southern Oregon, rain and winds are here to stay. In areas where snow has not yet set in, leaf hunters may still be able to catch a glimpse of fall color. Head to the town of Gold Hill via 1-5 South, and visit the Oregon Vortex. Located beyond the bend of the Rogue River, and situated on the scenic left fork of Sardine Creek Road, this strange house was voted one of Oregon’s 11 Scariest Haunted Places. The light mist that Mother Nature is sure to provide this weekend will add to the structure’s unsettling ambiance, so grab a camera and plan your course. Happy hunting!

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/24/2014

Oregon Coast
Coming from any direction, the winding drive to the Oregon Coast sure is a pretty one. From Eugene, take Hwy 126 through Mapleton. As its namesake may hint, Mapleton is full of vibrant, orange, maple trees, but that’s not all. Be on the lookout for golden yellow alders and cottonwoods as well. Driving from Corvallis, take Hwy 34, which follows the Alsea River through the town of Tidewater. Even through dull spats of cool rain, the river valley corridors glow with the warmth of fall color. Head to Newport via Hwy 20, where mushroom season is in full swing. Though some trees may be evergreen, the forest floor is teeming with brilliant color. Pops of orange, purple and red peek through fallen leaves and debris. The Oregon Coast boasts a wider variety of mushroom species than anywhere else in the world. This weekend, lace up your boots, and get a jump on these little guys!

Japanese maple at the University of Oregon by Brian Davies

Japanese maple at the University of Oregon by Brian Davies

Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is currently stunning as the fall season has definitely reached its peak. Beautiful treetops colored in purple, pink, orange, and yellow line neighborhood streets, can be seen from highways, and all along the banks of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers. Mount your bicycle and cruise down some of downtown Eugene’s newly paved city blocks. For a short and scenic ride, take 5th Street to High, and wind your way to W 3rd Avenue. Cruise up Skinner Butte, a local viewpoint that overlooks a good portion of Eugene. After taking pictures, reward yourself with a fast-paced, downhill decent. In Corvallis, experience the 12th Annual Philomath Open Studio Tour. Explore beautiful back roads as you embark on a self-guided tour of open artist studios this weekend and next, from noon to 5 p.m.

St. Johns Bridge in Portland by Instagrammer mikephotog

St. Johns Bridge in Portland by Instagrammer mikephotog

Greater Portland
Rain is coming, but that doesn’t keep us Oregonians inside. Dust off those galoshes and head to Council Crest Park, the highest point in the Tualatin Mountains (Portland’s West Hills). From this observation area, one can easily view several mountains of the Cascade Range, as well as the Willamette River, and acres of wonderfully colored deciduous and evergreen forest. Trees along the Columbia River Slough, beginning at Fairview Lake, are also looking vibrant. The Slough continues for 19 miles, and flows by the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Historical Park and Gardens. Visit the elusive Zimmerman House, open the 3rd Saturday of every month, for exotic flora, Oregon white oak, Siberian dogwood, and so much more!

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Have you ever opened your backdoor to discover a wild, rushing waterfall, complete with breathtaking views of lush, riparian vegetation? Standing at 208 feet tall and located directly outside of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Wah Gwin Gwin Falls is just that. Flanked by firs, cottonwoods, big leaf maples, Oregon ash trees and twisted pines, this natural wonder (named for the Chinook Indian term for “rushing waters”) is an unbeatable sight. Though the grounds of this hotel are radiant any time of the year, in the fall, they truly shine. Colors have reached their peak in the Mt. Hood and Gorge areas, so plan your trip, and take part in the season!

Kayakers on the Deschutes River by Instagrammer jennybowlden

Kayakers on the Deschutes River by Instagrammer jennybowlden

Central Oregon
It is more than halfway through October and Bend is still beautiful. Take in particularly good views of Mount Bachelor as you drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Make Terrebonne your destination and visit Smith Rock State Park, one of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon. This is an excellent trailhead, offering a number of ways to conquer this beautiful crag. Opt for the Misery Ridge Trail and head straight up its side, or traipse along the water via the Mesa Verde Trail. When you reach the top, gaze across the Crooked River and Haystack Reservoir for grand views of riparian foliage. Choose another direction, and drive westward on Hwy 126 toward Camp Sherman. Located between Black Butte and the head of the Metolius River, Camp Sherman is a great place to spend an afternoon and enjoy autumnal color.

Tamaracks from the Elkhorn Scenic Loop in Eastern Oregon by George Herbert

Tamaracks from the Elkhorn Scenic Loop in Eastern Oregon by George Herbert

Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon is such a show off! Fall color is present at every turn, and if you’d like to catch it, now is the time. Do so by exploring one of Oregon’s most challenging sections of highway, Hwy 245, otherwise known as the Dooley Mountain Highway. Along this stretch, you will enjoy a tree line of golden aspen, as well as tamarack, which are turning beautifully right now. This twisting road reaches an elevation of 4,000 feet, and drivers are advised to take it easy on sharp corners, especially in stormy weather. As you zoom on through by car or by motorcycle, be on the lookout for deer, elk, and spectacular views of fall foliage!

Southern Oregon
Fall is fleeting in Southern Oregon, and the evergreen trees near Crater Lake are dusted with snow. While this may be great news for winter sports enthusiasts, it feels a little bittersweet for leaf watchers like us. However, the Clearwater River Trail still offers hope of autumn visions. Clear blue pools, small waterfalls, and a dense canopy of old growth Douglas fir, cedar, and bright yellow alder trees await you on this two-mile trail. Located just past the Toketee Ranger Station, this trail is ideal for mountain biking and runs parallel to the Clearwater River. Check it out sooner than later, as more snow is predicted.

Fall Drive: Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Office Bridge in Westfir

Office Bridge in Westfir

This is the week to drive the Aufderheide Scenic Drive, a 60-mile segment of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. The paved forest service road, also referred to as USFS Road 19, connects Highway 126 along the McKenzie River to Highway 58 near Oakridge. It traverses stunning old growth forests, meadows and wild and scenic rivers.

While there isn’t much of a variety of color, the honey yellow big leaf maples glow surrounded by the mostly deciduous forest, turquoise blue fork of the Willamette River and cardinal red covered bridge.

Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Start at the north end at Highway 126 in Rainbow and head south. Before you leave, pick up a free audio tour on CD at the McKenzie River Ranger Station, which is closed on the weekends. If you are going south to north, the Middle Fork Ranger Station on Highway 58 also has them. Head out with a full tank of gas and a picnic because there aren’t any options along the route.

The best colors are in the higher elevations from milepost 31 – 14, between Erma Bell Lakes Trail and Huckleberry Flats. Other highlights include Terwilliger Hot Springs, Cougar Reservoir between mileposts 50 and 51 and the historic Box Canyon Guard Station, which makes a perfect midpoint stop.

Cougar Reservoir from the Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Cougar Reservoir from the Aufderheide Scenic Drive

The Aufderheide comes to a dramatic end in Westfir, taking you right past Oregon’s longest existing covered bridge. The pomegranate red Office Bridge spans a fork of the Willamette River and once connected the Westfir Lumber Company to the main office.

Your journey shouldn’t end here. Before you head home, grab some fish and chips and a pint of freshly brewed English cask ale at the Brewers Union Local 180 in nearby Oakridge. While you’re there, pick up a Eugene Ale Trail passport and ask for a stamp.

The Aufderheide is a seasonal road that becomes unpassable in the winter.