Current Colors – Rivers, Lakes and Waterfalls


Greens turn to yellows along the Ruth Bascom Trail in Eugene – by instagrammer Nancydbrown

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Trees are living things and living things love water. Right now, fall foliage is thriving along riverbanks and streams, displaying their flashy yellow and shimmering gold leaves. The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path is nearly at its peak, silently inviting locals and visitors to stroll along and rejoice in the season’s splendor. The warmth of colors changed will certainly instill within you that wholesome, autumn feeling we all crave this time of year.

If the standard footpath is not the thrill you are looking for, try a high speed color chase with a Scenic Jet Boat Tour guided by Captain Mike. Enjoy picturesque views of the Willamette River that most people don’t get the chance to see. Spot wildlife in their natural habitat as you admire the lush, rain fed valley. Sit in the boat wrapped in your best sweater and bring a thermos filled with your favorite hot beverage. This nautical adventure is fun for the whole family and the beauty of the trip will linger in your finest fall memories for years to come. Don’t forget your camera!

Oregon Coast
The northern-most river on the Oregon Coast is the Nehalem, stretching 119 miles through the Northern Oregon Coast Range with a flow
that ultimately loops into the mouth of the Columbia River. This weekend, explore sections of this waterway as you hunt for great color. Nehalem Falls, more of a rapid than a
waterfall, is a salmon run flanked by gorgeous yellow aspens.


Colors pop in the Central Oregon Coast forests by Lori Wisehart of the Hebo Ranger District

This secluded space in the Tillamook State Forest is worth the investigation. While you’re in the area, break out the non-motorized boat and paddle around Lake Lytle. Just south of Nehalem Bay near Rockaway Beach, Lake Lytle is ideal for leaf hunters, bird watchers and fishermen alike, providing calm waters and pretty scenery.

Sweet Creek Falls, located outside of Mapleton, is a small hike with a big payoff. Take the winding drive down Highway 126 for a quick day trip to this popular destination that shines with the brilliance of autumn. After the hike, head into Florence and celebrate Columbus Day with the 5th Annual Chowder Festival and Wine Walk.
A little Italian, a little Spanish – look for Ferdinand and Isabella handing out wooden nickels, their presence really adds to the festival’s flair!

Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is ablaze with red, yellow and crunchy orange leaves yet retains its lush greenery. Get outside and experience the season with a trek along the less frequently utilized Little North Santiam River Trail in the Opal Creek Wilderness. With emerald pools, roaring waterfalls and a magnificent old-growth forest of ferns and firs this low elevation hike is open year round to visitors and just beautiful in the fall.  After your activity, take a trip to EZ Orchards where the harvest time feeling is in the air. Treat yourself to a post-hike goodie, like fresh apple cider or a farm-grown caramel apple.

Greater Portland
Escape the city with a wooded hike along the Clackamas River. Pitch a tent and spend the night at Fish Creek Campground which is, as the name implies, a great place to fish! When you wake up, take a day trip to nearby Pup Creek Falls. The 4 mile hike is wondrous this time of year, rain or shine, and holds much in store for leaf hunters. Pack a picnic as you’ll want to spend some time in this natural area.

Back in town, hitch a ride on the Oregon Pacific Railroad and traverse a track that is over 112 years old! Depart from Oaks Amusement Park to embark on this 45 minute adventure. See how colors are changing along the banks of the Willamette River with scenic views unique to the rail line. Dress appropriately, some cars are open-air!

Mt. Hood/Gorge
Vine maples and huckleberry bushes are simply popping along the Columbia River Gorge. Take a trip to the Mount Hood National Forest and explore the Hood River Meadow trail system with hikes such as the Umbrella Falls Loop. Begin your journey with a drive along Highway 26 to Highway 35. These scenic byways are so fully painted you may find yourself pulling over to take pictures of the road’s shoulders! The loop is rated easy; 4.5 miles with an elevation gain of only 820 feet. Coming full circle, you will pass both Umbrella and Sahale Falls. Bring good shoes and a Northwest Forest Pass to trek through this space that spends its summers rich in wildflowers, now changed for fall.

The Georgiana Smith Memorial Gardens located adjacent to the Hood River Library have been restored to their former glory thanks to generous donations from the local community and beyond. This weekend, celebrate the revitalization of the Gardens with an afternoon soiree hosted by the Hood River Chamber. Stick around, settle in on a comfortable bench and lose yourself in a good book you’ve borrowed from the library. Before you go, take in some fresh air with a lovely stroll around the Gardens!

Central Oregon
Colors in Bend and surrounding areas have almost reached peak with a few trees already beginning to fade. All the way down to the tumbleweeds foliage is in its full fall regality, quite prominently in Drake Park where the season’s changes are reflected in the smooth surface of Mirror Pond, which doubles the loveliness of the vision.


Blue Pool (near the McKenzie River and Sisters) enters into fall by photographer Nate Wyeth

Now is also a great time for a hike along the Metolius River, where vibrant bursts of hot red and orange accentuate the water’s cool blue. Try the West Metolius Trailhead, one mile past Canyon Creek Campground. This 5.4 mile hike will wind you past gushing springs, secluded bird habitats and ultimately lead to Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery. Have quarters on hand as feeding the little fish is pretty fun.

Weather calls for sunshine, so why not make it a weekend? Follow up your outdoor experience with the Bend Film Festival which will premiere narrative features, documentaries, shorts and special films from independent directors and screenwriters. Tickets are available now for this four day event.

Fall Foliage Dick Camp Memorial Park

A peek at some beautiful Fall Foliage in Haines from Base Camp Baker

Eastern Oregon
At the foothills of the Wallowas and the Elkhorn Mountains colors are starting to peak, though they are emerging a little slower in lower elevation along the valley floor. A favorite spot this week among Eastern Oregon leaf hunters is the Dick Camp Memorial Park in Haines. With numerous historic cabins and mining exhibits nestled amid the changing foliage, this park is coming into peak color and offers beautiful opportunities for photographs, be they mental or film!

While in Haines, check out the Haines Fall Festival. Here you can try pressing your own cider, play games, visit the pumpkin patch and petting zoo as you celebrate a community rich in agricultural heritage. Located along the Elkhorn Scenic Byway, this festival is fun for families and for those on the quest for fall color!

Southern Oregon
Leaf hunters in Southern Oregon report that from aspens to oaks, fall color is in full swing. This week, explore Gearhart Mountain. The trail winds its way through sagebrush and meadows to The Palisades, a rock garden constructed of 30-foot pillars arrayed like an
army of gnomes.

Fish Lake

Reds and oranges start to peek out at Fish Lake near Medford – from Natalie Inouye

Flanked by green pine and glowing yellow aspens, this is a great trek for fall color with
choose-your-own-adventure mileage. Nestled in the town of Bly, this is a lesser-traveled treat is a visual pleasure.

Dress in layers and pack snacks as the destination is quite remote!


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