Bike into Fall!

Is it cold? Is it hot? The weather is so day to day it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on out there. We suggest dressing in layers, bringing a water bottle, and acclimating to the outdoors with a fabulous bike ride on one of Oregon’s many splendid paths.

RUTHBASCOMTRAILS_SKINNERBUTTEPARK-STACEYIn the Eugene, Cascades and Coast region, try a 2.8 mile trek on the Ruth Bascom Trail’s East Bank Path just before sunset. Cooler evenings offer excellent lighting, mild temperatures, and a storybook atmosphere.

Leaves are falling at the base of the Owosso Bridge, leading up to the primordial-looking Delta Ponds. You may even spot some wildlife!

For an urban ride, take your bike through the streets of downtown and join the weekend fun with Duck Downtown, a Friday night kickoff celebration of the 2015 Oregon Duck’s Football Season. Expect these events before every University of Oregon Football home game in Eugene, there’s one going on right now! Don’t forget to don your yellow and green while you enjoy live music, chances to win prizes, and of course, an appearance from The Duck himself!

BF on RRT WideThe Row River Trail in Cottage Grove is also a favorite. Take in nature’s transitions with this 16 mile out-and-back flat land adventure.

If you’re in the mood for something more rugged, try a trip to Westfir and mount up for 15.3 miles on the Alpine Trail. The trees are beautiful through here, and covered with multi-hued lichen that pleasingly contrasts with their ancient trunks.

Oregon Coast
There’s no doubt about it, whichever mode of transport you use to parallel the Oregon Coast your senses are in for a treat. Seeing waves crash into rocks from your car window is one glorious thing, but to feel the spray of the surf, hear the call of the gulls, and touch the road beneath your feet is something differently special. Wear a helmet and reflective gear, get on your bike and embark on the 4 mile Otter Crest Loop, beginning on Highway 101 at the Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint and ending at Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area. A highway shoulder ride that is not for the faint of heart, this route brings you closer to the ocean as the old highway winds its way up and down Cape Foulweather along precipitous cliffs. Admire the stonework of the Ben Jones Bridge, and climb steadily through serene forest on a recently paved, silky smooth road. While enjoying breathtaking panoramas, try to spot the first tinges of red and yellow on coastal aspen and maple trees.

Willamette Valley
East of Salem and close to the amazing Silver Falls you will find Santiam State Forest. Within this natural area access is granted to over 25 miles of non-motorized trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Grab your mountain bike to explore the 6 miles of dirt path that make up the Shellburg Falls Recreation Area and catch sight of the namesake falls. Among this network is the 0.8 mile Vine Maple Trail. During this segment, be on the lookout for these beautiful, changing trees. Make a night of it, pack a tent and sneak in an end of summer camping experience at the secluded and well-maintained Shellburg Falls Campground, open May to October.

Greater Portland
Oh, what a wonderful time to be outdoors! There is no better place in the Greater Portland area to run or bike than the 11.3 mile Leif Erickson Trail in Forest Park, the largest wooded city park in the nation. The trailhead can be accessed from NW Thurman St, winding it’s pretty little way to end at NW Germantown Rd. Mileage is marked by white concrete posts, and though the path was once used by automobiles, it is now only for non-motorized use. Some areas are paved, some are dirt path, and throughout your journey lush greenery surrounds. A brilliant path whether raining or shine, break a sweat and smile at the season’s changes.

Mt. Hood/The Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge sure is magical. Experience it on two wheels and use your own power as you bike Gorge Trail #400 – Eagle Creek to Cascade Locks. This is a 2.6 mile stretch filled with waterfalls and whimsy, providing both paved sections as well as some single track trail. A small feat, taking this beautiful path will end you at Bridge of the Gods Trailhead where you can choose whether or not to continue your adventure. Lush forest, mossy rocks, and riparian trees await.

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.