Color is Starting to Pop as Fall Begins

Find out some highlights on where fall color is popping up all around Oregon with weekly color reports and some trip planning ideas from Adventure Specialist, Gabrielle Lent.

Read on as Gabrielle leaves the Willamette Valley and heads towards the mountains! With more color showing in the high altitudes of the Cascade Mountain Range, now is the perfect time to escape to the mountains to enjoy the first week of autumn! 

(note: information based on responses from our leaf peepers by 9/21/2016)

Central Oregon:

  • It seems that the trees have changed almost overnight.  Colors are dotting the trees Downtown Bend, due to cool nights, while the flowers continue because of warm days.
  • Event: Bend Roots Festival 2016, 9/23/2016

Willamette Valley:

  • Corvallis is just beginning to see the first blushes of red and yellow in the trees.
  • Event: The Corvallis Fall Festival, 9/24/2016 – 9/25/2016

Southern Oregon :


Read Oak Leaves, courtesy of Erica Agesen

  • Discover fall color at Prescott Park in Medford as the first of the oak leaves are  beginning to show off vibrant shades of red.
  • Event: The Jacksonville Oktoberfest, 9/23/2016 – 9/25/2016


Trip Spotlight: The Willamette Valley to Central Oregon 

The season has begun. Though not yet in full swing, a colorful metamorphosis is taking place among trees lining neighborhood streets and silent giants in pristine forest lands. Some front runners for change include red maples, white oak, Oregon ash and quaking aspen trees. Big leaf maples are taking their time with transition, so areas heavily populated with these trees (like the Oregon Coast and the Columbia Gorge) are going to need another week or two before revealing themselves yellow. Here’s what we’ve seen so far!

In Lane County, a drive down Territorial Highway through Veneta showcases brilliant pastures populated by cows and flanked by brushed orange Acer nigrum, the merlot stain of sugar maple and mighty white oak whose crispy brown leaves cling tightly to branches. To the south, Lorane Highway is stunning, rain or shine. Every bend in the road is picture perfect, scenes complete with classic red barns and broken down tractors left to rust in the serenity of this countryside. In either direction, a multitude of wineries have settled into this ideal real estate and should be considered as a destination for travelers exploring these parts.

A hike at Sweet Creek Falls in Mapleton is delightful for sure, with a forest of ferns, alder trees, cascara blackthorn and sleeping big leaf maples all bordering the gently flowing creek. It’s not exactly showtime, but this is a spot to watch as the season goes on.


Heading down Highway 58, travelers are immediately greeted with the magic of Pleasant Hill, a small town where horses graze by fences protecting row after row of filbert trees. Going further, the oak groves and tall, rustling thistles of Elijah Bristow State Park are harvest colored, offering daytrippers an invitation to stretch their legs and contemplate nature. Continue on past Hills Creek Dam, past Salt Creek Falls, and the elevation gains. As the altitude gets higher, vine maples appear, popping up with warm gradients from outcroppings of rock and between the needles of Douglas Fir.


From Highway 58, a left turn on Crescent Cutoff Road reveals a secluded byway nestled between trickling streams and the beginnings of fall splendor in the towns of Crescent and Gilchrist. Where the road meets Highway 97, a left toward La Pine shoots drivers through Gilchrist Sate Forest, a somewhat dry and unexciting spans of land. However, just beyond the forest’s limits, stands of aspen await like a glistening well spring, their buttery yellow jazz hands a flutter with the slightest breeze, waving and welcoming one to the high desert terrain of Central Oregon. Fun Oregon fact, the main artery of La Pine is a road called Ashton Eaton Boulevard.


In the towns of Bend and Sisters, yellow flowering rabbitbrush and delicate ferns lace the dusty ground next to juniper bush and chokecherry trees. This would be a good time to visit Tumalo State Park, or explore the pine Manzanita hillside of Black Butte. The junction for the turnoff to Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Trailheads at Highway 20 is alive in orange and red, and thriving in the clear cut slopes of Mt. Washington are freckles of distant yellow trees. Corbett State Park and Camp Sherman are also fairly turned up right now, maybe two more weeks until peak of season in this area.


Where to See Fall Foliage in the Tualatin Valley

fall color 2016 by colin mortonFall is in the air—catch it in the Tualatin Valley. In Portland’s backyard, the Tualatin Valley is home to some of the area’s best farms, wineries and nature parks that will undoubtedly be sporting the season’s most vibrant colors. The rich landscape will be drenched in hues of earthy golds, oranges, reds and browns. When visiting Portland this fall, add a few days in the nearby Tualatin Valley. With just a few minutes’ drive, you’ll be transported to a completely different way to explore fall foliage.

For a leisurely tour through the Tualatin Valley’s harvest season—and its accompanying colors—take a drive along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. This 60-mile driving route through the Tualatin Valley’s countryside showcases the juicy fruits of summer exchanging reign with the hearty crops of fall. Your eyes can feast on the cheery reds of freshly-picked apples, as well as the charming barns that match them in color. Your drive will be dotted with orange as the route’s popular pumpkin patches show off all of their gourd glory. Of course, even the trees along the route will be boasting fall foliage with tinges of yellow, followed by weeks of orange and red. The Tualatin Valley receives gentle winds from the Oregon coast range that create the perfect rustling of leaves during a fall afternoon.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t insist that you check out some of the wineries of the northern Willamette Valley for a picture-perfect view of fall’s color change. As we delve deeper into the first weeks of fall, each vineyard’s vines will transition into an elegant ombre of green and yellow. With grape harvest arriving early this year, vineyard-goers can enjoy not only the views of fall foliage, but also the happy buzz of the “crush” season. In the tasting room, we consider the burgundy Pinot Noir wines yet another fall color to savor.

For those who prefer an active way to enjoy fall foliage, see the colors change while kayaking (or canoeing!) along the Tualatin River.The striking foliage along the river gracefully reflects its colors in the slow moving waters. Along the river, Brown’s Ferry Park is one of our favorite spots for a moment of autumnal Zen. Looking for a guided river tour? Register for the September 30 Autumn River Paddle Trip with the Tualatin Riverkeepers.

Cyclists also choose the Tualatin Valley for primo fall foliage viewing on two wheels. Experienced cyclists can pedal the 50-mile Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway for an up-close view of fall’s changing crops. The car-less Banks-Vernonia State Trail welcomes cyclists of all levels to enjoy its dense canopy of trees, which erupt in earthy colors during the fall months.

Share photos of your fall experience in the area with the #ORFallFoliage , #traveloregon and #tualatinvalley hashtags. Show us how you experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley!

Early Signs of Fall Continue to Pop

As we start to callout a few early reports of fall, find early color reports on a few regions we heard from below. Then follow along with Fall Foliage Editor and Adventure Specialist Gabrielle Lent as she runs through a Fall trip through Corvallis.

(note: information based on responses from our leaf peepers by 9/19/2016)



Central Oregon showing early Fall colors from Lisa Sidor of Visit Bend

Central Oregon:


  • Warm days and cool nights are combining to start fall color through Bend.
  • Check out a few fall events in the area.

Willamette Valley:

  • Corvallis is just beginning its color change. Tips of trees and blushes of red starting to pop on trees around town.
  • Back Country road drives are popular for Fall viewings around Corvallis.
  • Eugene is starting to see color change as well. Small percentage of color change so far is in maples.
  • Popular spot to see color change is along Pearl Street and Jefferson Street in Eugene, as well as a drive along Highway 126
    east or west of town.

Oregon Coast:

  • Highway 101 is still looking very green near Central and Southern Oregon Coast. Fall colors starting to sprout as you head inland from the Coast.
  • En route to Agness from Gold Beach, there’s a sweet spot near Huntley Park. Many

    More color popping on a maple from instagrammer polykick

    maples there reported changed to red and orange hues.

  • Fall color is just starting in Oregon Coast’s Hebo Ranger district as well. Early fall transitions noting vine maples turning a ruby color, and deciduous trees showing yellow and brown. Drift Creek Falls Trail, Niagra Falls Trail and Hart’s Cove are noted as great hikes to check out.

Southern Oregon:

  • Color change is just starting to make a shift in Southern Oregon.


  • Fall is in the air in the Tualatin Valley! Colors are starting to pop through the area’s Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, dotting with orange through the pumpkin patches. Watch for a guest blog post from Tualatin Valley here this week!
  • Color change just beginning in surrounding areas like Hillsboro. Leaves are a brilliant crimson with orange mixed.

Willamette Valley Trip Spotlight: Corvallis

Traveling north up River Road and riding it through to the end line of Eugene, passengers are welcomed to Junction City by fields of weathered cornstalks, bright orange pumpkins and trees beginning to blush with the compliments of autumn. Family owned farms such as Lone Pine and Thistledown prepare for the season with produce and games for kids. Follow the curves of the road and make a right onto Love Lake where Hentze Farm sits peacefully in white picketed splendor. These wide open spaces, dotted with splintered farmhouses and rusted machinery, offer scenic daytrips accessible by bike or by car. Keep in mind, share the road!

From Hwy 99 E veer left onto the nice new blacktop of Noraton Road. Note the willow trees blowing in the wind, the rainbows created in the mists of watering devices and feast your eyes on this paved stretch of large contrasts. Just beyond the low clearance of a tattooed railway bridge, lines of filbert trees litter the earth with fallen nuts juxtapose fields of squash, corn, tiny Christmas trees and shoulders adorned with wild blue flowers living in tall, golden grasses. A little maneuvering and a right turn onto Hwy 99 W will lead to 3rd Street in downtown Corvallis, a Tree City USA street lined with flaming matchsticks of red maple, ash, cherry and sweet gum maybe two weeks away from full peak color.

Just outside its urban center, Corvallis is home to several wildlife and nature reserves, E.E. Wilson Park being a highlight. View the park’s display of caged and cared for pheasants, then explore the historical site frequented by birders and fishermen. The reserve is an unofficial orchard of apple, pear, plum and filbert trees that at this point in the year are dropping more fruit than they bare. Tenacious pink sweet peas and blackberries still prevail, but as fall draws more near, they feel the fade of summer.

In this same area, take Independence Hwy to Buena Vista to access Lukiamute State Park. Color here will be stunning in the next few weeks and secluded picnic tables offer front row seating for this lovely show. The remnants of harvested hop plants are now dry brown bunches hanging down from high wires in the fields of Rogue Valley Farms, an excellent stop for an outdoor lunch. When the day is done, return to Eugene via Peoria Road, passing through Harrisburg and the city of Coburg for a magnificent full-circle fall experience.