Bright fall colors along Old McKenzie Highway 242
For the first weekend of fall, Oregon is bringing back summer-like afternoons. Warm temperatures are predicted for most of the state, making it the perfect weekend for exploring the emerging fall colors.
Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The colors are just starting to change in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. Find the richest colors near the passes in the Cascades along Highway 242 or Highway 126. The Aufderheide Scenic Byway (FS RD 19) is beginning to yellow and provides access to fishing, hiking, camping, and mountain biking. Leaf-watcher Emily of Eugene’s Divine Cupcake suggests that folks get out this weekend and hike, while the weather is still warm and the trails are mud-free.
The color change is starting along the coast. In the Coast Range, vine and big leaf maples are starting to change along Highway 18 toward Tillamook. Glimpse bits of color in Astoria along the Columbia River while sampling one of 36 brews from around the state at the Pacific Northwest Brew Cup this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The colors are starting to change in the Willamette Valley. Street trees in the cities changed quickly this week. Leaves are just beginning to turn red, gold and orange in pockets throughout the valley. In the high Cascades, vine maples are turning orange and red. Lower elevations in the Cascades are more green than yellow. Drive east into the Cascades on Highway 22 or Highway 126 and west into the Coast Range along Highway 33 for the best color. Press your own cider at Eagle Creek’s Cider Squeeze on Saturday, then head to National Alpaca Farm Days to shop for yarn and other products made from local alpaca fleece.
The color change is starting in the Portland area. A few trees are just beginning to turn yellow throughout Portland’s neighborhoods. Head out to the Portland or Beaverton farmers markets this weekend to see the fall produce in all of its luscious color.
Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Gorge
The colors are starting to change along the Columbia River Gorge and in the upper elevations on Mt. Hood. Some oranges and yellows brighten the valley near Parkdale. Forecasts of clear skies on Saturday make it the perfect weekend to hike Cooper Spur or Vista Ridge for views of Mt. Hood. Continue up to Historic Timberline Lodge for a tour of the historic lodge throughout the day.
The color change is barely starting in Southern Oregon. Green dominates the little bit of yellow visible in southern Oregon. Travel east of the Cascades for more yellow. Break out the binoculars and visit one of southern Oregon’s great birding spots.
The colors are just starting to change in Central Oregon. The street trees in Bend are approaching their peak and the best color display this week. The planted maples and other street trees started to change color about two weeks ago when nights started to get cooler. The aspen in the area have just begun. The further west and south you drive the more change you’ll see. Visit Bend for Oktoberfest and the Bend Roots Revival this weekend. Head to Sisters for the Fresh Hop Festival and west of Sisters into the Cascades where red vine maples stand out against the black lava along Highway 242.
The colors are slowly starting to change throughout Eastern Oregon. Lots of green is still visible in the southeastern part of the state with more yellows in the higher elevations. Visit the Round Barn Visitor Center in Diamond and drive the Steens Loop Tour Route out of Frenchglen. At the Oregon Trail Interpretative Center outside of Baker City, the rabbit brush is blooming with yellow flowers. Good weather and no serious snows yet this year make the northeast corner of Oregon prime hiking and biking territory this weekend. Base your trips out of Joseph and explore Wallowa Lake.