The days are getting shorter. Our deciduous friends go dormant by slowly closing the vessels that bring nutrients and water into their leaves, and by stopping the production of that chlorophyll, the pigment that allows for them to take the sun’s energy and use it to create food. As the chlorophyll slowly breaks down, it allows for new colors to appear in the leaves. Carotenes and Xanthophylls, which were hidden in the spring and summer, now emerge giving us yellow and orange. Anthocyanins are sugars that are not produced until the chlorophyll starts to break down, and are used, presumably, to protect the leaf while the plant removes nutrients from it to store.
Going into hibernation is a slow process, and we are still about a month away from peak fall colors. However, many ornamental trees in our cities have changed to brilliant reds and oranges. Also, trees with disease can be very pleasing to the eye.
Stop by the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center Saturday for Fall Family Day. Bring the kiddos for a morning of free fall activities. Representatives from the Willamette National Forest will be there to give you some great fall adventure ideas. Sip cider and enter to win free prizes!
Eugene will be hosting the Arabian Horse Show this weekend. Come out to the Oregon Horse Center and watch man and beast compete in different classes. If an iron horse is more your style, Cycle the Lakes Century Bike Ride will be taking place in Cottage Grove on September 29th. Cycle a route featuring stunning lake views and covered bridges. 25, 50, and 100 mile rides are all offered.
A few maples are showing their true fall colors. But it looks like they’re the only ones.
Head out to Astoria this weekend for the Pacific NW Brew Cup. This family friendly Oktoberfest style beer festival will offer kids activities, games, and live music.
Willamette Valley trees are still slowly starting to change colors. When the colors do arrive, locals recommend a drive along country roads like Silver Falls Drive, or you can enjoy the colors in Salem at Bush’s Pasture Park or Minto-Brown Park.
Saint Paul is getting in the swing of autumn by hosting Fall Harvest Festival. Head out to French Prairie Gardens and Family Farm to explore mazes, take hayrides, race through obstacle courses, and ogle farm animals. This Saturday there will be a Fight for your Life 5k, starting at 9 a.m.
Street trees in Portland are your best bet for fall color. Go for an urban walk around Downtown Portland and pick up fall fruits and veggies at the Portland Saturday Market. Stroll through Mt. Tabor and Forest Park to see hints of yellow.
Beaverton is hopping this weekend. Enrich your life with some art at the Painters Showcase 2012 Saturday and Sunday. Listen to music or watch a tofu eating contest at Festival Japan. Finally, on Sunday get out and enjoy what may be the last great weekend to ride this year with the 10th Annual Harvest Century Bike Ride.
Mt. Hood / The Gorge
The Gorge is still slowly falling asleep, and leaves are still far from peak color. When they do change, the drive between Latourell and Multnomah Falls on historic Highway 30 will be full of dark greens and bright yellows. Rangers at on the Mount Hood Highway between Sandy and Government camp are reporting beautiful colors. They recommend the highway for fall colors and also love to see colors at around 9/10ths of a mile up Paradise Park Trail.
Saturday, Hood River hosts the Hood River Hops Fest. Sip on delicious microbrews and send the children off to Kid’s Zone. Live music will be happening all day.
The trees in southern Oregon are still green for the most part, and these southern trees will probably be among the last to turn. Klamath Falls locals recommend the woods surrounding local lakes like Agency Lake for the best fall colors.
This weekend may be a good time to visit Crater Lake. Head up from Gold Hill, and on your way stop in Prospect for Music in the Mountains, this Saturday and Sunday. If you would prefer to stay in the valley, you can enjoy music, German food and beer at the Oktoberfest at the Wolf Creek Inn this weekend or head to Medford for the Multicultural Fair on Saturday.
In Central Oregon, the early fall color changes can be found in unexpected places such as the native shrubs and grasses along the bank of the Deschutes River, which have transitioned from varying shades of green to deep gold and bronze. A great place to view the riparian fall flora is on the Upper Deschutes River Trail which follows the River from the Meadow Camp picnic area near Bend, 8 miles south to Benham Falls. There are also plenty of birds and wildlife to grab your attention.
What’s happening in Central Oregon this weekend? One word…festivals. The Fresh Hop Festival is going on Saturday in Sisters. Sample the unique taste character of “fresh hop beer” made from fresh (wet), just picked hops while you enjoy live music and a variety of food vendors.
Anglers have their day Saturday at the Fly Fishing Festival in Sunriver. This is a great event to introduce beginners to the art of fly fishing. Learn from the experts on hand, including guides, outfitters and equipment vendors. Adults can practice your technique in the rod-casting area, while the kids have their own fun with a bug pond, fly-tying and fishing pond.
Watch artists in action at Paint the Town Plein Art this Saturday in Joseph. While you are there check out Alpenfest for Swiss and Bavarian Culture, in the shadow of the Wallows. It is all happening this weekend.