Early Signs of Fall in Oregon’s Eugene, Cascades and Coast Region

Fall is almost here! Before we start our official call-outs and updates from leaf reporters next week, take a look through Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent’s recent report of the season’s early signs of summer to fall change through the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. If you’re planning your trip this year, don’t forget about the popular spots to visit through the state on our Oregon’s Regions page.

This past Labor Day I surprised myself by packing an air mattress in the back of a truck, heading out to  alongside the McKenzie River and utilizing the freeness of BLM lands just past Mona Campground. The site was quaint; a rocky shoreline with fishing access flanked by tall tree canopies and two fire pits, tucked away just below the main road. The night was cold and the sky was clear, and on the ride to and from I had my eyes peeled for potential fall color along Highway 126 heading east.

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Fall Fishing on the McKenzie River just off Highway 126

In the open spaces close to McKenzie River Lavender Farm, grass has weathered to golden shafts and surrounding trees are just starting to burn with orange. Still far from peak, evidence of an approaching autumn hangs from their branches. Between Walterville and Leaburg, the turnoff for Deerhorn Road looks quite inviting and I made note to explore this stretch as fall evolves into its full swing. Visit the area this weekend for the Walterville Community Fair and 5K Waddle or participate in the McKenzie River Trail Run, happening in Rainbow. Draw comparisons between early season color and return later to see how leaves have changed!

Taking another course, I traveled down Highway 58 and found myself in Elijah Bristow State Park, a popular spot among horse owners and fat tire bikers. The drive was like a country postcard, welcoming me to five miles of various trails that ran beside the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. As days go by, this riparian habitat with oak trees, maples and ferns is sure to blossom into an autumn dream.

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A meadow in Elijah Bristow Park by Chris Havel

Just past Elijah Bristow is Dexter Lake, where this weekend the Columbia Drag Boat Association will be hosting their Northwest Nationals. Watch the races and get a glimpse of the fall that is to come.

Its harvest time in rural areas and the people of Veneta are celebrating with their 10th Annual Harvest Festival. Spend the day with the family enjoying live music and local vendors, then wind down at a nearby winery such as Sarver or Domaine Meriwether and continue the party with drinks in a rustic environment. Don’t forget your Pinot Bingo passport!

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Fall harvest (2015) of Pinot Noir Grapes from Noble Estate

In Florence, it’s time once again for the Rods and Rhodies Invitational Car Show. Catch the last of summer’s wild rhododendrons and marvel at hot rods with all your friends. Afterwards, treat your body to a quick hike of Sweet Creek Falls, another great one to watch as we get deeper into fall.

If you’re staying here in Eugene, try out stand-up paddle boarding with one of SUP2UOregon’s guided tours down the Autzen Canoe Canal or join a late summer wildflower walk at Mt. Pisgah. BRING Recycling will also be hosting their 8th Annual Home and Garden Tour with an after party to follow at Sprout! in Springfield.

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Sprout! by Rachelle Hacmac

Make this a weekend to remember. Explore and getaway in any direction you choose and while you’re out there be on the lookout for signs of fall!


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