This fertile valley follows the Willamette River from the Cascade Mountains near Eugene through rolling farm land and orchards to the Portland Metro Area. With easy-to-navigate access along Interstate 5, or the leisurely, scenic routes of Highways 99E and 99W, leaf peepers will find endless opportunities for foliage sighting. Side roads leading into the foothills on either side of I-5 reveal an autumn reminiscent of New England, complete with covered bridges, quaint country schools, churches and barns.
- Follow one of the country’s most beautiful whitewater trout streams along the enchanting McKenzie River Highway (Highway 126) east from Eugene-Springfield through bright fall foliage to the McKenzie River’s source at Clear Lake, a great spot for fishing, picnicking and hiking. A side trip along Highway 242 winds over McKenzie Pass in the high Cascades until winter snows close the route. [Editor’s Note September 2017: Proxy Falls and Hwy 242 now closed until Spring 2018]
Popular Spots for Fall Foliage:
- Oregon Garden – 879 W Main St Silverton, OR, 97381 / (503) 874-8100
A showcase for thousands of plants in more than twenty specialty gardens, plus water features, wetlands, a conifer garden, and the 400 year-old Signature Oak.
- Silver Falls Bike Path – 20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR, 97385 / (503) 873-8681
You can hike the Trail of 10 Falls up at Silver Falls Bike Path; a 4.3 mile loop trail located near Silverton, Oregon that features a cave and is good for all skill levels.
- Oregon State University – The campus in Corvallis features fall beauty around every corner.
- Mount Pisgah – 34901 Frank Parris Rd, Eugene, OR, 97405 / (541) 747-3817
The Pisgah Arboretum bordering the coast fork of the Willamette River, east of I-5 and just south of Eugene. Go for the annual “Mushroom Festival” on the last Sunday of October..
- University of Oregon – 1585 E 13th Ave, Eugene, OR, 97403 / (541) 346-1000
The campus offers another chance to enjoy great fall color in a more urban setting.
- McKenzie River Highway – Hwy 126
Follow the highway east from Eugene-Springfield through bright fall foliage to the McKenzie River’s source at Clear Lake, a great spot for fishing, picnicking and hiking.
- Proxy Falls – Hwy 242 E, off of Hwy 126
This one way loop trail, located in the Three Sisters Wilderness, travels through open lava fields and dense forest, offering views of two distinctly different waterfalls. [Editor’s Note September 2017: Proxy Falls and Hwy 242 now closed until Spring 2018]
- Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway – Cottage Grove, OR, 97424
The Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway follows the Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour Route and is appropriate for almost any rider. You can do an out-and-back on the Row River Trail path and stay traffic-free, or for variety you can go out on the path and back via roads. This is a refreshing, naturally beautiful ride you’re sure to enjoy, and a great chance to check out Cottage Grove.