Weekly Update 9/30/2010

Fall colors in BendFall colors are starting to show in Bend.
Image courtesy Central Oregon Visitors Association

Fall colors have started throughout the state, with yellowing big leaf maples in the Willamette Valley and red vine maples in the Cascades. Oregonians will spend this weekend cheering on our favorite football teams, casting about in local streams, cruising country roads with the top down and kicking back among the brightly colored trees. Where will this weekend’s warm afternoons find you?

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The colors are just starting to change in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. Pockets of yellow are visible along the Siuslaw River between Florence and Eugene. Leaf watchers report the most color change on the Middle Fork of the Willamette south of Hills Creek Reservoir, where orange vine maple, red huckleberry and yellowing big leaf maple are visible along the Middle Fork Trail (Beware of colorful poison oak along this trail). Highway 242, part of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, comes highly recommended for travelers. Just a few big leaf maples are turning yellow up the North Fork along the Aufderheide Scenic Byway. Gorgeous red, orange and yellow trees line the streets of the University of Oregon neighborhood in Eugene.

Coast
The color change is just starting in the coast range. Near Coos Bay, there is quite a bit of yellow and red; drive Highway 42 for views of fall colors. Combine fall foliage with elk viewing at Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area along Highway 38 near Reedsport. Cape Perpetua is starting to yellow and has miles of trails and several viewpoints with plenty of opportunities for scenic snapshots.

Willamette Valley
The colors are just starting to change in the Willamette Valley and are getting richer every day. The warmer weather gives most of the valley the feel of late summer, with brown grass and flashes of color on trees. This is a great weekend to explore the Willamette River Water Trail, bike the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, or attend a local event like the Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County.

Greater Portland
The colors are just starting to change in the Portland area. Golden hues are topping trees throughout Portland, and the reds are just beginning to peek out of a few trees. Autumn breezes have begun to rustle leaves of the trees in the parks downtown. Head out to Hood River Valley to see the leaves change on the Fruit Loop, stop at farm stands and check out the Hood River Hops Fest. In the city, don’t miss the vibrant colors displayed in the Japanese Garden. Washington Park would be a good place to take photos this week.

Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Gorge
The color change is just starting on Mt Hood and along the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls is mostly green with a little showing of yellow. The vine maples at the lower elevations on Mt Hood are orange and the rhododendrons are yellow. Even with very little color change, the Columbia River Gorge is always a gorgeous photo opportunity. Visit the Vista House near Crown Point. On Mt Hood, travel up to Lolo pass and hike at the higher elevations to see the most color change. Oregon City is a good place for taking photos this week.

Southern Oregon
The colors are just starting to change in southern Oregon. Leaf watchers spotted the first reds of fall this week. Lithia Park along the Rogue River and Canyonville are really pretty right now. The waterfalls along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, Highway 138, would be a great place to capture some great shots of waterfalls and trees at the same time.

Central Oregon
In Central Oregon fall colors are just starting. Warmer weather provides a fabulous time to soak up some sunny days outdoors before winter starts creeping into the high desert. Although many of the trees are still holding onto their summer green, some trees are displaying mustard yellows, burnt oranges and crimson reds. Mt. Washington Road in Bend is always a favorite for sighting a rainbow of fall colors. Don’t miss out on the last few weeks of being able to travel along the beautiful McKenzie Scenic Byway on Highway 242, where you will find a striking contrast of bright foliage against dark lava. Find out why Bend and Central Oregon has been recognized as a “Top 10 Amazing Mountain Bike Destination” by Bike Magazine while enjoying the fall color on the Deschutes River Trail. Throughout the month of October, enjoy the fall harvest season at the Central Oregon Pumpkin Company in Terrebonne, with commanding views of Smith Rock State Park.

Eastern Oregon
The color change is just starting in the lower elevations of eastern Oregon and approaching peak in the next few weeks at the higher elevations of the Steens Mountains. Warm days have slowed the color change, but yellows, golds and oranges are visible at the lower elevations. Local leaf peepers expect a long fall foliage season in southeastern Oregon due to mild weather this fall. The Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge visitor center is a great place to view wildlife; this week, a flock of sandhill cranes migrated through. From the visitor center, head out to one of the viewpoints and up into the Steens for more dramatic color change. The meadows around Fish Lake and the Kiger Gorge Overlook near Jackman Park are great spots for fall photos right now.

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