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!

Officially Fall – Where to go, What to do!

It’s really begun! Colors are undeniably morphing into their fall splendor and leaf hunters are taking note. Here are some hot spots for checking out the new hues. One of the best ways to admire change in Eugene is with a hike to the top of Skinner’sButte where you can have a seat on the edge of the giant yellow Oregon O and look out over the whole city. Mt. Pisgah is another classic vantage point, situating you high above savannahs of mighty oak and fields of golden, waving grasses.

Vine Maples Starting to pop from the McKenzie River Ranger District

Vine Maples Starting to pop from the McKenzie River Ranger District

In the Cascades, temperatures are staying summery.

This weekend, welcome October with a camping trip! Take some time to yourself in the relaxing, riverside atmosphere of Paradise Campground located off of Highway 126, or pass Belknap Hotsprings and set your tent at Trailbridge. Hikes in this area, like the four mile trek to Blue Pool, are sure to please. For higher elevation and brilliant vine maples, spend the night at Cold Water Cove, a campground close to the stunning waters of Clear Lake.

Oregon Coast
Near Coos Bay, leaf hunters are starting to see some wonderful reds and amazing blends of orange-yellows coming from native vine maples. It’s not yet peak, but leaves are definitely painted. Look for changes and have an overnight’s stay in Sunset Bay State Park, just a stone’s throw from the wind-swept cliffs of Cape Arago. Temperatures are expected to be quite comfortable and campfires are permitted at this time.

Colors start to pop in the Nestucca Forest by SkyVista Photography/Steve Luther

Colors start to pop in the Nestucca Forest by SkyVista Photography/Steve Luther

Wind down from a lovely day hiking along the beach by toasting marshmallows over an open flame. Perhaps you could also sneak in some mushroom hunting as they are abundant this time of year.

Go off the beaten path to find chanterelles, lobsters, and the more elusive morels! Cooking foraged fungi is extremely rewarding, and very fall.

The Fall view from the Willamette Valley Vineyards by Willamette Valley Visitor's Association

The Fall view from the Willamette Valley Vineyards by Willamette Valley Visitor’s Association

Willamette Valley
Tree-lined streets in Downtown Salem are all shades of red, lime, yellow and orange and many downtown eateries have outdoor dining with a view. Find a seat and grab lunch at the newly opened Gayle’s Italian Market where you can indulge in artisan wines, fresh pastas and hearty harvest soups. Once you’ve had your fill, head into the wild for a weekend at Fisherman’s Bend Campground located off the Santiam Highway. Here, you can take a leisurely stroll along a one-mile nature trail and enjoy views of the North Santiam River and its surrounding wetland habitats.

Greater Portland
Portland is popping with manicured color on city streets and private lawns. Spend an afternoon traipsing the neighborhoods of the Nob Hill district with hot beverage in hand and immerse yourself in the beauty of historic homes. Venture further into the natural world and challenge your body with a 10.9 mile loop hike from Angel’s Rest to Devil’s Rest. This hike will lead you to amazing viewpoints, past waterfalls and offer an aerial view of a forest regenerating itself from a 1991 fire. A favorite among local this trail has an elevation gain of 2770 feet and is open all season.

Mt. Hood/Gorge
This weekend visit the Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint for an absolutely breathtaking view of the Columbia River Gorge. Hope for a double rainbow and clear skies as you gaze across one of Oregon’s natural wonders. Afterwards, visit the yards at the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Stand above and then trace the origin of the hotel’s towering waterfall. Upon walking along this surprisingly shallow waterway, you may discover a plaque on the ground revealing a time capsule buried in 1991; a gift from the Portland Women’s Forum! What a way to come full circle with your fall adventure.

Bond Street (Bend, OR) Lined with Gold from Visit Bend

Bond Street (Bend, OR) Lined with Gold from Visit Bend

Central Oregon
Leaf hunters assure that Central Oregon experienced a beautiful first weekend of fall. A few trees have reached peak while some are only starting to change. The aspens of Shevlin Park are holding onto their green, but Bond Street, between Arizona Avenue and the Old Mill District, is lined with gold. For a great adventure and possible brisk fall swim, hike the Green Lakes Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

Drive the Cascade Lake Scenic Byway to the trailhead and embark on this 12 mile loop hike that spans the southern edge of Green Lakes to the Broken Top Trail, to Soda Creek Trail and ending back at the Green Lakes trailhead. Terrain will change along with wonderful walkway, and the colors of foliage and the lake’s water will dazzle!

Eastern Oregon
In Eastern Oregon, throw your binoculars around your neck and spend a day in Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge in Umatilla. This riparian woodland habitat is home to songbirds and water birds, like red-eyed Vireo and white-faced Ibis. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and seasonal changes.

On October 3, the town of Elgin invites visitors to experience an Autumn Train Robbery when they hop on the Eagle Cap Excursion Train and ride it through the Wallowas. For a fee, enjoy a plated meal as you chug through this enchanted countryside. Meanwhile, the notorious Gold Rush Bandits will be hiding and waiting for the train to roll into their territory then they’ll flag it down and climb on board! Yeehaw, partner! Welcome to fall in the Wild West.

Southern Oregon
The Cow Creek Tour Route, just south of Roseburg, is a 45 mile scenic byway passing drivers by picturesque farms and ranches and into deep forest in Cow Creek Canyon. Massive rock outcroppings and small waterfalls can be seen bordering this quaint stretch of road.

Colors popping at Crater Lake Lodge from Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Colors popping at Crater Lake Lodge from Xanterra Parks and Resorts

Once through Tunnel No. 1 of the historic Oregon and California Railroad, you’ll have an opportunity to pull over and pan for gold! Look for salmon in the water, and notice how hardwood leaves are turning to bright red and yellow. While so close to Roseburg, consider stopping off at the Umpqua Brew Fest where “it’s all about the water” the weekend of October 10.

Cruising for Change – Scenic Byways

Spots of color, like a wild red leaf nested in an otherwise green tree, mark the early stages of fall in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a peek-a-boo of changes to discover, delicately peering out of the under-carriage of our native evergreen forests. Here are some great recommendations for scenic rides across the state to help you on your way to finding these sneaky stretches of newly vibrant shades.

Eugene, Cascades, Coast

The hullabaloo of crowds gathering around Cottage Grove’s self-guided covered bridge
tour has died down, making this the best time to take the trip.


Tackle Cottage Grove’s Covered Bridge Tour

Loop Dorena Lake as you discover the six bridges highlighted on this hour long scenic byway and notice the gentle ways in which autumn is sweeping over the surrounding landscapes. Follow along the road with Row River at your side and peek the soon-to-be robust yellows and golds of the season. Bring cameras and binoculars for birding!


McKenzie Highway 242 in 2014 Fall Glory from Emily Forsha

There are only a few weeks left to
explore the old McKenzie Highway before it closes for the season. Soak up the hot sun reflecting off the lava fields of which Dee Wright Observatory overlooks and drive back to town via Highway 242.

Vine maples are begging for attention with their flashy salmon hues and yellow ferns dot the shoulders of the road. Contrasted with the green of natural pines, a spectrum of color is well-represented.

Oregon Coast

Color is just beginning to change on the Oregon Coast, starting with big leaf and vine maples, and varieties of birch. Look for the first signs of change along highways and rivers. Hop in the car and travel on Blaine Road from Beaver, Oregon to the high coastal hills just west of Carlton for a lengthy back road adventure.

Parallel the Nestucca River and encounter weeping lichens, rolling waterfalls and towering maples on this 11 mile span of BLM Lands. Stop for a picnic lunch at Dovre Campground and admire the canopy of leaves above. Experience the Oregon Coast from the inside, it’s more than just the ocean and shore!

Willamette Valley

Silverton sure is a pretty place to pass through. Journey across this shimmering vixen of a city as you embark on the Silver Falls Tour Route which traipses from the historic Gallon House Covered Bridge to the Oregon Garden, where the Salem Fuchsia Society will be hosting an informational event complete with door prizes, flower displays and specialty plants for sale. This scenic byway continues to Silver Falls State Park, best known for its namesake waterfall.

After an hour in the car, stretching your legs may sound like a welcome respite. Charge forth on dog-friendly, 9-mile loop hike and spy all ten waterfalls that this state park has to offer. Finish your day at Silver Falls Alpacas, a hands-on alpaca farm situated on three sprawling Silverton acres. The Silver Falls Tour Route is a wonderful experience in animals and agriculture!

Greater Portland


An Orchard at Dilley Road

Washington County’s Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, a 60-mile driving route through Washington County’s bucolic rural areas, showcases spectacular views of fall foliage. Vistas range from vineyards that are just beginning to turn from lush green to brilliant yellow, farms full of fall flowers in their prime, and trees along the route that are teasing the vibrant autumn ahead with hints of green, yellow, orange and red.

Along the scenic tour route, the fall colors of the Oregon Coast Range also are within view.

The journey along the Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway begins from East Portland and travels all the way to The Dalles.

Multnomah Falls by Instagrammer patrickernest

Multnomah Falls by Instagrammer patrickernest (2014)

The smoke has cleared and the views are breathtaking. Cruise Highway 30, the Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, from Troutdale to Cascade Locks for leafy maples that blow freely in the damp September winds. Behold the Bridge of the Gods, and then turn back to experience any of the highways surrounding waterfall hikes. The shady groves of Multnomah Falls offer world travelers spectacular sights and comfortable temperatures. For more adventure, try the trek from Eagle Creek Campground to Tunnel Falls. This 12-mile hike crosses the Pacific Crest Trail and is sure to have you simultaneously taking pictures, and holding your breath!

In Hood River, fruit is abundant. The uniform trees in orchards along Highway 35 are reminiscent of a Japanese postcard, with Mt. Hood shining brightly with the first of an August snow. If you’re hungry, stop along the fruit loop at Packer Orchard ( for organic produce, freshly baked goods and an unlimited generosity of jam and cookie samples. Go easy on the Wheat Thins as you taste the bounty of fall.

Central Oregon

Central Oregon is on the brink of high desert country, but beautiful seasonal stretches can still be found. Manicured streets welcome visitors from Redmond to Terrebonne into Sisters with flashes of red and purple. Vine maples are showing off in the mountains, contrasting nicely with the snow that has dusted the lower elevation of Mt. Bachelor. Try a trip down Highway 26 through the Warm Springs Indian Reservation to see how quickly the landscape evolves.

This weekend, beer lovers rejoice in the town of Sisters as the Fresh Hop Festival gets underway (), featuring brews from around the state of Oregon with a focus on unique Fresh Hop flavors, beers made with hops taken straight off the vine. It’s all part of the harvest, so fill your cup with the spirit of the season.

Eastern Oregon

Eastern Oregon’s East Steens Tour route offers a more rugged take on a Fall drive. Sage brush, gravel road and massive landscapes await on this dramatic drive. Tough to beat the view of Mt. Steens

Southern Oregon

The Rogue River is a crown jewel of Southern Oregon’s recreational amenities. Take a drive down Crater Lake Highway and bask in its fluid greatness as you pass through Shady Cove where riparian aspens are now yellow an

Lithia Park in Ashland by Graham Lewis

A sample of 2014’s Fall Foliage in Ashland: Lithia Park by Graham Lewis

d green. Continue further to see the 11 miles of road between the towns Prospect and Union Creek as they are believed to be particularly beautiful this time of year.

In Jacksonville, it’s Oktoberfest – the biggest one Southern Oregon’s got to offer. Celebrate with great music, food and beer of all kinds at the historic schoolhouse on Bigham Knoll and wonder at the scenic beauty of Mt. McLoughlin, located just across the way.