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.

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/10/2014

Seal Rock by doublemdesignandphotography

Seal Rock by doublemdesignandphotography

Oregon Coast
Fall color is in full swing! Take a trip to Sweet Creek Falls, one of Eugene, Cascades & Coast’s 7 Wonderful Waterfalls, located outside of Mapleton on Highway 126. This wonderful family-friendly trail is canopied by Douglas firs, aspen trees and big leaf maples, and is a great way to stretch your legs and breathe in that crisp fall air. Try a drive along the Umpqua River Scenic Byway (Highway 38) from Elkton to Loon Lake in Reedsport. There are several wineries along this route, all of which are flanked by vibrant, manicured yards. Enjoy a crisp glass of riesling from Brandborg Winery, or pull up to River’s Edge Winery, which overlooks the Umpqua River. While on the coast, be sure to catch Harvest at the Harbor in Brookings for a splendid autumn day full of pumpkin carving and cobbler cook-offs. Costumes are encouraged!

Near Buena Vista Ferry near Salem (pic by Debbie Lusk)

Near Buena Vista Ferry near Salem (pic by Debbie Lusk)

Willamette Valley
Peak is upon us in the Willamette Valley, so seize the season in every direction! From Salem, take a westward drive along Highway 22 toward Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge to see beautiful fall hues, as well as a wide variety of animals in their natural habitat. To the east, take Highway 126 from Eugene to Clear Lake. Plan to immerse in elegant visions of riparian foliage. Spend an afternoon walking the five mile trail that loops around the Lake. See the golds, oranges and reds of the native big leaf and vine maples. The weather is cooling down, so dress in layers for your excursion. Afterwards, reheat with a dip in one of the area’s many natural hot springs. Try Belknap, or cruise Highway 58 to enjoy Cougar or McCredie for a relaxing outdoor soak.

Vineyard & Valley Scenic Tour Route, Beaverton (Photo: Oregon's Washington County)

Vineyard & Valley Scenic Tour Route, Beaverton (Photo: Oregon’s Washington County)

Greater Portland
Climbers have the advantage this time of year, as the best views of fall foliage are usually from a bird’s eye. Visit Lewis and Clark State Park, just east of Troutdale, for some excellent climbing opportunities. Survey the landscape from up high on Broughton Bluff, or pack a picnic and hang out by the Columbia River. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, stroll through Elk Rock Garden. This immaculately maintained yard is full of colorful oaks, maples, and ash trees, and provides hours of visual stimulus.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Fall color is cloaking valleys and mountains near Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Cold weather is setting in, and the lifts at Palmer Snowfield will soon be opening. Foliage seekers will no longer have to hike for beautiful views of the great outdoors. On a clear day, you can see the rolling hills of the Cascade Mountains, as well as any color popping up around the Alpine Lakes. If you’re looking to get your blood pumping, try a mountain bike ride from Timberline to the scenic town of Rhododendron. Feel the wind on this fifteen mile ride as you appreciate your seasonal surroundings.

Central Oregon
The weather is gorgeous and fall foliage is at its peak. Though some trees have already shed their leaves for the season, aspens are just beginning to turn their golden yellow. Take a drive from Mt. Washington to Bend’s NorthWest Crossing neighborhood to see these aspens in full effect. Enjoy an afternoon in Drake Park while overlooking Mirror Pond, and stay to watch the sunset. Right now, the Deschutes River is roaring through Benham Falls. Crowds are low this time of year, so bring the family and experience fall in Central Oregon.

Eastern Oregon
We are one week into October, and lots of colors are showing up on the banks of the Powder and Snake Rivers, which border the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Copperfield Park, located just below the Oxbow Dam, and Cornucopia Lodge are great stops for sightseeing along this route. Rock climbers may want to make the trip to Burnt River Canyon, which boasts a pretty spectacular aerial scene between the towns of Durkee and Bridgeport. The Elkhorn Scenic Byway is another excellent route for fall foliage. The 106-mile loop will take you through the Elkhorn Mountains, and also through the town of Haines, Oregon. This weekend, be a part of the Haines Harvest Festival, a daylong celebration of all things fall and harvest.

Crater Lake Lodge

Crater Lake Lodge

Southern Oregon
Brilliant colors are coming forth throughout Southern Oregon. Beautiful fall foliage can be seen in the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, located just off of Highway 140, from Rocky Point Junction. Stunning hues also dwell in lower elevations, in areas such as Clover Creek, and along Dead Indian Memorial Road. Visit Crater Lake Lodge, where color has almost peaked. The landscape here is awash in red, yellow, and light green.

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/3/2014

Along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness by wildernessadventureimages via Instagram

Along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness by wildernessadventureimages via Instagram

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
This is the weekend to explore the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. While the leaves are still two to three weeks from peak, the weather could not be any better for getting in one last hike, bike ride or sun-kissed wine tasting weekend in the South Willamette Valley. Stroll through historic University of Oregon campus, where environment and architecture complement one another and engulf you in the feeling of fall. If you’re looking for festive family fun, visit Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm for their annual celebration of October, known as Colonial Harvest Days. Pick a pumpkin, assemble a beautiful dahlia bouquet, or hop aboard a giant hay bale in the shape of a ship called “The Hayflower”. Make memories, and start a new tradition! Dig out your lederhosen for authentic German food, bier, wiener dog races, and music at the first ever Florence Oktoberfest. For more fall ideas, check out the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Blog post: Five Ways to Have a Fabulous Fall.

Oregon Coast
Days have been clear, bright, and blustery on the Oregon Coast, the perfect forecast for the annual Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival. Grab your family and your best flyer, and meet where the waves hit the beach. Venture even further into the outdoors, and take a trek on the Drift Creek Falls Trail. Flanked by ferns, alder trees and vine maples, this amazing trail is great for fall foliage and boasts a 240-foot-long cable suspension bridge. Don’t miss this beautiful place.

Willamette Valley
A brief rain returned to the Willamette Valley earlier this week, and the earth is looking healthily refreshed. Dew covered blades of grass support the fallen leaves of trees that dried out, browned, and died early in the season, while other survivors hold tightly to branches. Foliage found in parks, near riverbanks, and in neighborhoods gleam with yellow speckles and red blush.

Steens Mountain by petealport via Instagram

Steens Mountain by petealport via Instagram

Greater Portland
The air in Portland is growing crisp. As people are wrapping up in raincoats and sweaters, fall colors are gently wrapping themselves around the landscape. Trees and shrubbery along highways and city blocks are showing gradients of color, ranging from deep purple to a bright orange tang. Ride the Portland Aerial Tram and gaze over all of downtown, taking in views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and neighborhoods to the south.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Elevation is the key to unlocking fall foliage, so get as high as you can. While driving down the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, pull over at the Jonsrud Viewpoint for excellent sights that overlook the entire Sandy River Valley. Fall is upon us, and soon, farmers markets will move indoors. Stop and shop at the Gresham Farmer’s Market, Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., now through the end of October.

Central Oregon
Rain and wind have rocked Central Oregon this last week, bringing down temperatures, and also pine needles! Take a ride on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a 66-mile historic highway accentuated by 14 alpine lakes. Try a hike near Todd Lake, where it is the end of the huckleberry season and the once green bushes are turning gold. Bid a pleasant farewell to the end of wildflower season as you notice the newly orange leaves of surrounding trees. Once back in town, celebrate all things fall with the 19th Annual Bend Fall Festival, featuring free concerts and a harvest market.

Eastern Oregon
The pinnacle of fall color is still a few weeks out, but Eastern Oregon has definitely undergone some seasonal changes. Put yourself in the middle of it all with a drive through Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, a favorite route for foliage. Between the towns of Halfway and Joseph, Forest Service Road 39 offers some spectacular leaf peeping opportunities and breathtaking backdrops of the Wallowas, one of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon. This high elevation route usually peaks a little earlier, making the next two weeks ideal for visiting. Catch this section of the byway before October 15, as it will close for construction after this date. While in Baker City, mosey on over to the Taste of Baker and Artist Studio Tour, an annual showcase of the community’s diverse artists, featuring local crafts and food vendors.

Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass

Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass

Southern Oregon
Colors are beginning to pop all over Southern Oregon, and over the next two weeks, metamorphosis is expected. Though the region is receiving its first freeze advisories, the weather right now still feels perfect for outdoor activity. Take a drive down Hwy 140, the primary connection between Medford and Klamath Falls that is also known as the Lake of the Woods Hwy. Bring snacks, dress in layers, and challenge yourself with a ten mile, round-trip hike up Mount McLoughlin. Reaching an altitude of almost 9,500 feet, this mountain is the highest point between the Three Sisters and Mount Shasta. Views from the top can be breathtaking. This difficult hike is an excellent way to acclimate yourself to the season. Make a weekend of it, and after your day of incline, unwind at Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass. Walk in and explore the well-kept grounds, or call ahead for a reservation and join the Wine and Foodies Wine Release, an afternoon of sampling and indulgence.