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 10/17/2014

Clear Lake by Ilhoward via Instagram

Clear Lake by Ilhoward via Instagram

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
While the leaves are a week out from peak in the lower elevations, the fall colors are still playing a bit of hide and seek in the mountains. Sounds like the perfect excuse to get in the car and explore doesn’t it? We suggest a journey that leads you to one of the 7 Waterfall Wonders. With a bit of moisture on the horizon, we want to play in the rain. What could be better than tiptoeing down a forested path, tear drops of water sneaking quietly through the canopy of trees, and one spectacular reward of a waterfall at your journey’s end?

There’s plenty to keep you and the whole family outdoors this weekend. Join Ducks and Huskies alike in downtown Eugene and Springfield Friday night for Duck Downtown. Start the evening with a run with five-time 800 meter U.S. Champion and two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds at the 3rd Annual Nick Symmonds Springfield 800. Runners and walkers of all levels are invited to run down 5tth Street in the Historic Washburne District.

Oregon Coast
Light rains and cooler temperatures on the Oregon Coast are breaking in the fall season. With weather like this, it may be a good weekend to share a cabin with family or close friends. Try Fort Stevens State Park on the North Coast. This uniquely diversified state park offers views of wildlife, hiking trails that wind through forests of spruce and pine, and its own brand of fall foliage; needle dropping. Located just 10 miles outside of Astoria, Fort Stevens is the sight of a historic shipwreck, and houses remnants of an old military base. In Coos Bay, the South Coast Striders will be leading a group hike through Silver and Golden Falls. Choose the short or long route, and bring a sack lunch, raingear, and sturdy waterproof boots. Make friends, catch the last of the wildflowers, and get outside!

Willamette Valley
The leaves are at their peak along the McKenzie River. With colors ablaze and the rain setting in, this is a great week to take the Aufderheide Scenic Drive. Though Bracken ferns are fading to brown, big leaf maples are orange, yellow and gold, and other broad leaf varieties are showing off their fall splendor. Colors tend to be better closer to Westfir.

Washington Park by mikephotog7 via Instagram

Washington Park by mikephotog7 via Instagram

Greater Portland
It has been a crazy summery autumn this year – while some trees seem to have forgotten to change, others are morphing and quickly dropping their bits of wonderful color. The season has peaked, but whether or not you have gotten your fill of reds, yellows, and golds, you can be sure to get a good dose of orange this weekend. A must-see is the annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in the Tualatin Commons. After the pumpkin parade and weigh-off, witness these 1,000-pound pumpkin boats bob and weave on the waters as racers try to get to the finish line first. Not ready to call it a night after the races? For all you brave souls out there make sure you take a stroll through the Haunted MAiZE  at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. 

Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast near Mt. Hood by opinnkeeper via Instagram

Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast near Mt. Hood by opinnkeeper via Instagram

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
We’re seeing bits of gorgeous gold in the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge areas. Conditions are a bit chilly (Mount Hood saw the first snow fall of the season!), but we think that we can come up with activities to keep you warm. Friends of the Columbia Gorge offer 35 Autumn Hikes throughout the Columbia Gorge while Rasmussen Farms continues the fun for the whole family at their Pumpkin Funland. For one weekend only, the Gorge Fruit and Craft Show is going on at the Hood River Co. Fairgrounds. Also, catch the 32nd Annual Hood River Valley Harvest Festival.

Deschutes River near Bend by Michael Burkhardt

Deschutes River near Bend by Michael Burkhardt

Central Oregon
Fall weather is here with its breezy days and light showers. Though season is at its peak, the beautiful fall foliage still pops against this newly muted backdrop. Aspens are in their full golden glory, and Bend’s Shevlin Park is positively aglow with these trees. Explore neighborhood streets, like Mt. Washington Drive or Colorado Avenue for brilliant displays of color. Venture further, and hoof it on a section of the Deschutes River Trail. The mile stretch between Aspen and Big Eddy is a brief holiday among willow flats and the sound of roaring rapids. Get there before the snow sets in.

Sumpter Valley Railroad by Base Camp Baker

Sumpter Valley Railroad by Base Camp Baker

Eastern Oregon
Color is looking great in Baker City. The urban forest has turned, and peak is expected within the next week. Geiser Pollman Park is an excellent destination for foliage seekers in the area. Located off of the Leo Alder Memorial Parkway, bordering the Powder River, this park has more than 100 trees of varying species and age. In Haines, sensational color can be found along Main Street, in Dick Camp Memorial Park. For those seeking adventure, tackle some gravel back roads and explore Burnt River Canyon, between Durkee and Unity. Exit the canyon, and continue to roll through the vast, open country between Unity and Herford. The drive provides great splashes of color set amidst rolling hills, and big, Eastern Oregon skies. This is also the weekend for the Sumpter Valley Railroad’s Fall Color Trains, a unique opportunity for those that want a steam-powered trip through beautiful fall foliage without making it an all-day event.

Lithia Park in Ashland by Graham Lewis

Lithia Park in Ashland by Graham Lewis

Southern Oregon
After weeks of waiting, seasonal colors have reached their peak in Southern Oregon. The valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers are ruggedly scenic, and though the forecast calls for rain and snow over the next several days, it’s not too late to have a great fall experience. Visit the Fremont-Winema National Forest, and embark on the Billie Creek Nature Trail. Take Highway 140 from Klamath Falls toward Lake of the Woods. The trail is located off a dirt road that can be accessed just after the Lake of the Woods turn off, but before mile marker 36. This two mile loop trip is well forested, open through November, and begins on Rye Spur Trail. Dress appropriately, pack snacks, and keep an extra set of clothes handy for when the adventure is over.

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.