An Introduction to Fall

Hear some insight from our resident fall foliage expert Gabrielle Lent, and KEZI 9 Chief Meteorologist Marisa Woloszyn, on what we can expect to see this year. For trip planning ideas this fall, visit Eugene, Cascades & Coast’s Fall page

Currin Bridge by Instagrammer erica2

Currin Bridge, taken in 2014’s season of Fall Foliage by Instagrammer erica2

The last days of August are here and autumn is just around the corner. Our hot, dry summer has rendered some leaves crispy and brown, falling from trees to coat the ground with their crunchy, unique beauty.

But leaf hunters, do not fret! Glorious color is sure to pop up throughout all regions of Oregon, and according to this lesson in natural science from KEZI 9’s Chief Meteorologist Marisa Woloszyn, here’s why:


“As we transition from summer to fall, days get shorter and the nights get longer. This causes plant cells between the leaf and stem to rapidly divide without expanding, which causes a blockage to develop. This blockage is called the abscission layer. The abscission layer blocks the transport of nutrients and minerals to the leaf. During this time the leaves will slow their production of chlorophyll, the natural chemical within them that lends their green color, and eventually, production stops.

We are seeing some of the leaves changing in Oregon now because of stress due to the drought. Drought conditions are in the moderate to extreme range in Oregon, and drought has caused an earlier formation of the abscission layer, which causes leaves to change colors early or even fall earlier.”

Because of this, fall foliage is expected to peak earlier this year. If you are planning a trip to Oregon based around fall color, think of arriving in late September or the first week of October.

Ride the Eagle Cap Excursion Train to spot tamaracks along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers. Image courtesy Charlie Mitchell.

Ride the Eagle Cap Excursion Train to spot tamaracks along the Grande Ronde and Wallowa rivers. Image courtesy Charlie Mitchell. (2014)

Wherever you are in Oregon, keep your eyes peeled for the changing leaves on maple trees. In wetter climates try to spy ash, aspen, cottonwood, poplar and Pacific dogwood trees, and where it’s drier look for birches or possibly the elusive Western larch.

The Western larch lives farther north and has needles that flame from green to yellow.

Though larch trees are a less common find they do exist and they are phenomenal. As the season progresses, we suggest hunting for them. Start in the Badger Creek Wilderness of the Mt. Hood National Forest. Begin at the Fret Creek Trailhead with motivation to continue on to Lookout Mountain. Driving to this trailhead along Dufur Mill Road, you can spot some excellent patches of larch. Once outside and on the path, you’ll see more of this tree, and can experience incredible views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, and depending on the day’s clarity, perhaps the Sisters. This 11 mile hike offers a delicious first taste of what’s ahead for the fall season.

Eugene by paulgarrett13 via Instagram

Eugene in 2014 fall glory by paulgarrett13 via Instagram

Here in the Eugene, Cascades and Coast area, keep a solid eye on forested destinations along rivers, such as Clear Lake, the headwaters of the McKenzie. Nearly 3,000 years ago when lava from Sand Mountain reached the river and backed up water to form the lake, the original forest that lined the river banks was submerged creating an Atlantis of old growth just below the water’s sparklingly clear surface.

Over time the forests regenerated themselves to surround the lake, creating a truly stunning natural environment. Take in the view with family or friends from the seat of a rented canoe available at the lake’s resort, or if you’ve got one, bring your own. If you plan to stay the night, seek accommodations from Horse Creek Lodge and take advantage of their shuttle services to access the lake.

Closer to home, experience the outdoors and get a taste of Eugene’s culinary scene.

Take a trip and have a sip at Agrarian Ales

Take a trip and have a sip at Agrarian Ales

Take the scenic drive or bike out to Agrarian Ales for their 7th Annual Hop Harvest Festival. Spend a day on the farm, pitch in with the harvest and get your hands on the bountiful hops that go into every loving batch of Agrarian Ales. Listen to live music, drink the fresh new beers and make merry with friends and family.

Squeeze every last drop out of summer and relish this waning heat. Fall is coming, and the natural world’s got a lot in store for leaf hunters over the next coming weeks. If you’re like us, you can’t wait to dive into this colorful outdoor bounty spanning all regions of Oregon. Stay tuned for weekly updates on the best places to see, explore and experience this fall season.

Follow a Beautiful Oregon Summer with A Gorgeous Oregon Fall

Big Sky OR

There’s always a great view to take in along the Oregon countryside. Location: just outside of Springfield.

With temperatures hitting triple digits across the state, it seems the lazy days of summer may never end. Heat has permeated the land in full force since late May, but July and August hold ahead the truly golden days of the season. Good weather in the Pacific Northwest is cause for celebration, and cities throughout Oregon are having festivals outdoors.

In the Willamette Valley, goers are flocking by the hundreds to the 46th Annual Oregon Country Fair, an eclectic three-day camp-out in the outskirts of Veneta.

On the coast, the town of Winchester Bay is gearing up for Dune Fest, a festival for ATV enthusiasts in the setting of Oregon’s tallest dunes. Attendees can compete in drag and freestyle races, participate in a show and shine for quads and cycles, enjoy great food from vendors and experience live music wafting to ears on the breeze of the ocean’s waves.

The metropolis of Portland will transform into something a bit more rustic once the Robin Hood Festival gets underway, and residents of the Mt. Hood and Gorge area are preparing for the Fort Dalles Days Pro Rodeo .

The Southern Oregon town of Bonanza opens its doors to Chili Masters far and wide with their Oregon State Chili Cook-Off. Indulge in unique takes on this classic dish. Enter your best chili recipe to win cash, prizes or even a shot at the World Championship title. Live music, a classic car show and carnival await you at this yearly event.

Central Oregon is no stranger to sunshine, as it tends to be drenched in its happy yellow rays nearly 300 days of the year. During the summer, La Pine rejoices in this truth with the annual Newberry Event Music and Arts Festival. This fundraiser to defeat MS features myriad musicians from all over the country strumming tunes in a gorgeous mountain setting. Bring a blanket, your family, and feel the warmth inside and out.

Skip a stone on any Eastern Oregon river and you’re bound to hit a rodeo. Summertime means calves and cowboys for towns in this area. Experience Baker City Bronc and Bull Riding or visit Ontario for the Malheur County Fair and Rodeo. John Day will host the Grant County Fair and Rodeo, and more can be looked forward to once the fall arrives.

Eagle Rock Wide

Explore the McKenzie River section of the Cascades for fantastic summer views of the lush Willamette National Forest. Location: Eagle Rock, near Blue River.

For now, trees are lush, vibrant and green, swaying in summer winds and scenting the air with their pollens. Leaf hunters delight, autumn and its colors are just around the corner,  and we’re here to help you capture them all.

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 11/21/2014

This week marks the last Oregon Fall Foliage Update of the season. While the warm September tested our patience by delaying the color change, it was well worth the wait. The explosion of autumnal splendor lasted almost until Thanksgiving. And we couldn’t have told the fall story without you. Your pictures helped us show readers that some of Oregon’s finest and most breathtaking moments come with the change of the seasons. As we bid adieu to fall, let’s welcome in winter with these last-minute leaf peeping ideas and holiday-themed festivities.

Mount Pisgah by Greg Vaughn

Mount Pisgah by Greg Vaughn

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
In Eugene, and spanning to the Cascades and coastal regions, beautiful fall colors continue to glow. Leaves are on trees, but now the color coat has doubled as they also speckle the ground.

There’s no better way to transition into winter than by holiday shopping at the Eugene Saturday Market’s Holiday Market, which runs through Christmas eve. Find locally-made, one-of-a-kind gifts from more than 300 booths staffed by the artists or their family members.

Spot late foliage on the vineyards while you celebrate Thanksgiving on the Territorial Thanksgiving Wine Trail. Enjoy the South Willamette Valley’s beautiful views from the tasting rooms as you listen to live music, taste wonderful foods, and sample award-winning wines.

If the meal is on your mind, there’s still plenty of time to secure your Thanksgiving dinner plans. Visit our Thanksgiving Dinner page to find a restaurant open on the holiday or one that offers a pre-made meal for you to enjoy at home.

The holidays aren’t the holidays without the lights. There’s no better place to experience glowing displays than at the Village Green Resort and Gardens, in the All-America City of Cottage Grove. Join them next weekend for Thanksgiving Dinner, and stay for their spectacular display of Christmas lights! Every Friday, starting November 28 and ending the day after Christmas, the resort will have weekly showings of festive movies. Toast s’mores over an open fire, sip a hot beverage, and remind yourself what this time of year is all about.

Oregon Coast
The Oregon Coast is ringing in the holiday season with all things festive and fun! Local artists will display their wares at the Waldport Holiday Market, happening now through December 20. Experience the Yachats Winter Celebration, kicking off Thanksgiving Day with various feasts and activities. In Seaside, the Chamber of Commerce hosts their 30th Annual Holiday Gift Fair in conjunction with the Parade of Lights. Santa will be there and so will Frosty the Snowman, as well as a parade of elves! After the parade, unwind from the glitz of a million LEDs with Gingerbread Tea at the Butterfield Cottage every Saturday from now until December 20, no reservations needed.

Christopher Bridge Cellars in Oregon City, Image credit: Christopher Bridge

Christopher Bridge Cellars in Oregon City, Image credit: Christopher Bridge

Willamette Valley
One of the best things about cold weather is finding comfort in well-made clothing. Melting into a hug from your favorite sweater, wrapping yourself in the embrace of a soft blanket, the feeling of warmth that insulated gloves provided to chilly hands, these are things that make us smile. Now through the end of January, Willamette Heritage Center in Salem presents From the Sheep’s Back to Yours: Pendleton Blankets, an Oregon Tradition. Find a brilliant array of fall colored textiles at this exhibit, featuring more than 20 rarely displayed pieces of Pendleton product from the museum’s collection. While in Salem, treat yourself to an award-winning Sunday Brunch at Orchard Heights Winery.

Greater Portland
Rain is in the forecast, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting one last glimpse at fall color. Visit Portland’s Laurelhurst Park. The paved path that winds through the park and borders the pond is littered with yellow leaves, so take a stroll, and break bread with the ducks that live there. Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and you can celebrate its passing with a self-guided tour of Washington County’s Wine Country. Over seventeen wineries will participate in the 30th Annual Thanksgiving Wine Weekend in Cornelius.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Fall foliage is out, but the mountains are gearing up for their prime. Get a jump on holiday shopping for the snow junkies in your life and visit the retail shops at Mt. Hood Meadows. Keep a beat on the weather forecast, and check the website for road closures as the season progresses.

Bend by kellywear via Instagram

Bend by kellywear via Instagram

Central Oregon
Snow has arrived, ushering out the fall color with a cold coat of white. For a hybrid of seasonal experience, go back to Bend’s Drake Park. Though completely affected by last weekend’s mini blizzard, the orange of birch trees continue to shine on in vivid contrast. Wear layers, and prepare yourself for the elements at hand.

Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon has entered into winter weather. It is cold and snowy in Baker City, so do something active to stay warm! Get your blood pumping and sign up for the 11th Annual Turkey Trot, a 5K run/walk to feed the hungry. After the run, visit the fabulous Geiser Grand Hotel. Treat your family to the best, and join the hotel for their eye-popping Thanksgiving feast.

Ashland by rhodebot via Instagram

Ashland by rhodebot via Instagram

Southern Oregon
The weather is dreary in Southern Oregon. Liven up your gray day with a visit to DANCIN Vineyards in Medford, where dots of bright fall color can still be discovered. Imbibe with an exquisite pinot noir as you walk the yards, or join in on the Salinity Salt Tasting, offered this Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. In Ashland, the Rotary Centennial Ice Rink is now open for the season. Lace up your skates and hit the slick! This fun family activity is an excellent prelude to the 22nd Annual Festival of Lights, which will commence with a parade the day after Thanksgiving.