Find Fall Color Now in Oregon

Find highlights on where to find fall color now around Oregon with weekly color reports from our regional Leaf Reporters, and some trip planning ideas from Adventure Specialist, Gabrielle Lent. Projections are for mid-October for peak across much of the state, but as you’ll see here we’re hearing that some color is really starting to show itself!

Read on as Gabrielle highlights more hotspots in the Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon this week!

FALL FOLIAGE SPOTTING UPDATES:
(note: information based on responses from our leaf reporters by 9/30/2016)

 

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Golden colors popping in Bend from Lisa Sidor

Central Oregon:

 

  • Fall foliage in Bend and around Central Oregon has been reported as near peak as colors are starting to really pop among the Aspens at Shevlin Park. Many trees around town are golden with some that haven’t started showing yet.
  • Events to look out for this weekend include Fall Festival in downtown Bend and the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival on Saturday. Find more on those events here.

Willamette Valley:

  • Eugene’s color is starting to show off well in town, with much foliage near the outskirts standing at just-before color change.
  • With the weekend’s projected rain and colder weather coming in, we forecast more color coming in soon!

Eastern Oregon:

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Aspens popping with beautiful hues near Jackman Park around Steens Mountain from Deigh Bates

  • Around Steens Mountain is looking spectacular. Color change is really popping and could be near peak in this area of Eastern Oregon.
  • Baker City has a lot of splashes of color popping up in town among Sage and Button Brush, but many trees are awaiting the cooler weather to join the color chorus. Tamaracks in the Elkhorns and Wallowas (and other spots of higher elevations) are just starting to turn.
  • Fall road trips to hit near Baker County include Elkhorn Scenic Byway through the Elkhorn Mountains, the towns of Sumpter and Haines, Anthony Lake, Powder River Rec area and a stroll through the Dredge Tailings at the Sumpter Dredge State Park.

Oregon Coast:

  • Vine maples along the coastal mountain roads are transitioning to crimson red, while big leaf maples and other broad leaf species are beginning to turn yellow and brown. There is a definite Autumn crispness in the air!
  • What are good activities for this weekend?  With the lack of stormy weather and wind, the autumn leaves are hanging on.  A road trip to Drift Creek Falls Trail is always a great get away.  This relatively easy hike leads you to a 240 ft. suspension bridge overlooking Drift Creek Falls.

Trip Spotlight: Willamette Valley and Eastern Oregon

Here in Lane County, fall continues to color our towns in its warm, rustic hues and from this point forward, it’s all hay bales and pumpkin patches as we approach autumn’s prime peak!

This weekend in Oakridge, riders from across the country are gearing up for Trans-Cascadia 2016, a four day, 17-stage mountain bike race and campout that will explore some of the area’s famous single track trails. Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm in Pleasant Hill kicks off their month long Colonial Harvest Days celebration while the city of Florence welcomes visitors with their annual Oktoberfest. Springfield introduces the Fresh Hop Festival which features 24 Oregon craft breweries and cider-makers showcasing hops in all their bitter glory, and in Eugene, runners of all ages will have the pleasure of participating in a muddy Terrain Race which begins in the countryside acres of Camp Harlow.

For those in search of color in the Willamette Valley, take a trip down Marcola Road, Over the River and Through the Woods Scenic Byway and arrive at Lebanon’s McDowell Creek Falls. On the way, you’ll be hard pressed not to notice the Marvin and Marie Spores Conservation Area where stands of yellow aspen outline wild green hills. Travel further to see the sprawling open range of McDowell Creek Restoration Area before embarking on a one and a half mile waterfall hike where vine maple vividly pop next to rock staircases and the yellow sheaths of big leaf maple highlight an elaborate wooden boardwalk in this beautiful scenic area. Watch for deer, and if you’re thirsty, stop in for a glass of wine at Marks Ridge Winery on Berlin Road.

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Vine Maples near Dowell Creek

Last weekend, Pendleton hosted their 106th Annual Round-Up. Patrons of this event were privy to cowboy culture and fall splendor as Eastern Oregon has hit its peak of season color change. Areas that are particularly fire right now include the Grande Ronde Valley located at the base of the Blue Mountains, and the drive from the small town of Joseph with its tree-lined streets to Indian Crossing Campground, following along the Imnaha River. South of Pendleton and west of La Grande, the Ukiah-Dale State Scenic Corridor which borders the North Fork of the John Day River and Camas Creek showcases golden Larch and blazing shrubbery, lit for the fall season.

This weekend, visitors of Eastern Oregon are invited to experience fall in a unique way. The Eagle Cap Excursion Train leaves the station October 1 with a bevy of wine and cheese, exceptional views of captivating scenery and offers passengers a wonderful chance to relax while enjoying the season. We’re looking at you, Eastern Oregon. And you’re looking good.

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! 

FALL FOLIAGE SPOTTING UPDATES:
(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 :

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!