Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/17/2014

Clear Lake by Ilhoward via Instagram

Clear Lake by Ilhoward via Instagram

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
While the leaves are a week out from peak in the lower elevations, the fall colors are still playing a bit of hide and seek in the mountains. Sounds like the perfect excuse to get in the car and explore doesn’t it? We suggest a journey that leads you to one of the 7 Waterfall Wonders. With a bit of moisture on the horizon, we want to play in the rain. What could be better than tiptoeing down a forested path, tear drops of water sneaking quietly through the canopy of trees, and one spectacular reward of a waterfall at your journey’s end?

There’s plenty to keep you and the whole family outdoors this weekend. Join Ducks and Huskies alike in downtown Eugene and Springfield Friday night for Duck Downtown. Start the evening with a run with five-time 800 meter U.S. Champion and two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds at the 3rd Annual Nick Symmonds Springfield 800. Runners and walkers of all levels are invited to run down 5tth Street in the Historic Washburne District.

Oregon Coast
Light rains and cooler temperatures on the Oregon Coast are breaking in the fall season. With weather like this, it may be a good weekend to share a cabin with family or close friends. Try Fort Stevens State Park on the North Coast. This uniquely diversified state park offers views of wildlife, hiking trails that wind through forests of spruce and pine, and its own brand of fall foliage; needle dropping. Located just 10 miles outside of Astoria, Fort Stevens is the sight of a historic shipwreck, and houses remnants of an old military base. In Coos Bay, the South Coast Striders will be leading a group hike through Silver and Golden Falls. Choose the short or long route, and bring a sack lunch, raingear, and sturdy waterproof boots. Make friends, catch the last of the wildflowers, and get outside!

Willamette Valley
The leaves are at their peak along the McKenzie River. With colors ablaze and the rain setting in, this is a great week to take the Aufderheide Scenic Drive. Though Bracken ferns are fading to brown, big leaf maples are orange, yellow and gold, and other broad leaf varieties are showing off their fall splendor. Colors tend to be better closer to Westfir.

Washington Park by mikephotog7 via Instagram

Washington Park by mikephotog7 via Instagram

Greater Portland
It has been a crazy summery autumn this year – while some trees seem to have forgotten to change, others are morphing and quickly dropping their bits of wonderful color. The season has peaked, but whether or not you have gotten your fill of reds, yellows, and golds, you can be sure to get a good dose of orange this weekend. A must-see is the annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in the Tualatin Commons. After the pumpkin parade and weigh-off, witness these 1,000-pound pumpkin boats bob and weave on the waters as racers try to get to the finish line first. Not ready to call it a night after the races? For all you brave souls out there make sure you take a stroll through the Haunted MAiZE  at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island. 

Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast near Mt. Hood by opinnkeeper via Instagram

Old Parkdale Inn Bed and Breakfast near Mt. Hood by opinnkeeper via Instagram

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
We’re seeing bits of gorgeous gold in the Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge areas. Conditions are a bit chilly (Mount Hood saw the first snow fall of the season!), but we think that we can come up with activities to keep you warm. Friends of the Columbia Gorge offer 35 Autumn Hikes throughout the Columbia Gorge while Rasmussen Farms continues the fun for the whole family at their Pumpkin Funland. For one weekend only, the Gorge Fruit and Craft Show is going on at the Hood River Co. Fairgrounds. Also, catch the 32nd Annual Hood River Valley Harvest Festival.

Deschutes River near Bend by Michael Burkhardt

Deschutes River near Bend by Michael Burkhardt

Central Oregon
Fall weather is here with its breezy days and light showers. Though season is at its peak, the beautiful fall foliage still pops against this newly muted backdrop. Aspens are in their full golden glory, and Bend’s Shevlin Park is positively aglow with these trees. Explore neighborhood streets, like Mt. Washington Drive or Colorado Avenue for brilliant displays of color. Venture further, and hoof it on a section of the Deschutes River Trail. The mile stretch between Aspen and Big Eddy is a brief holiday among willow flats and the sound of roaring rapids. Get there before the snow sets in.

Sumpter Valley Railroad by Base Camp Baker

Sumpter Valley Railroad by Base Camp Baker

Eastern Oregon
Color is looking great in Baker City. The urban forest has turned, and peak is expected within the next week. Geiser Pollman Park is an excellent destination for foliage seekers in the area. Located off of the Leo Alder Memorial Parkway, bordering the Powder River, this park has more than 100 trees of varying species and age. In Haines, sensational color can be found along Main Street, in Dick Camp Memorial Park. For those seeking adventure, tackle some gravel back roads and explore Burnt River Canyon, between Durkee and Unity. Exit the canyon, and continue to roll through the vast, open country between Unity and Herford. The drive provides great splashes of color set amidst rolling hills, and big, Eastern Oregon skies. This is also the weekend for the Sumpter Valley Railroad’s Fall Color Trains, a unique opportunity for those that want a steam-powered trip through beautiful fall foliage without making it an all-day event.

Lithia Park in Ashland by Graham Lewis

Lithia Park in Ashland by Graham Lewis

Southern Oregon
After weeks of waiting, seasonal colors have reached their peak in Southern Oregon. The valleys of the Rogue and Umpqua rivers are ruggedly scenic, and though the forecast calls for rain and snow over the next several days, it’s not too late to have a great fall experience. Visit the Fremont-Winema National Forest, and embark on the Billie Creek Nature Trail. Take Highway 140 from Klamath Falls toward Lake of the Woods. The trail is located off a dirt road that can be accessed just after the Lake of the Woods turn off, but before mile marker 36. This two mile loop trip is well forested, open through November, and begins on Rye Spur Trail. Dress appropriately, pack snacks, and keep an extra set of clothes handy for when the adventure is over.

Plan Your Fall Foliage Trip!

Happy summer from the Oregon Fall Foliage team! Believe it or not, now is the time to start planning fall foliage trips. There are so many ways and places to see beautiful colors across Oregon!

Cyclists on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove

Cyclists on the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway in Cottage Grove

We don’t always know WHEN the leaves will be at their brightest. Mother Nature keeps that insider info to herself. However, we’ve been following leaf patterns for 10 years now, so we have a good idea of where they start and when they go.

Drake Park and Mirror Pond (courtesy: Manasi Seth)

Drake Park and Mirror Pond (courtesy: Manasi Seth)

But that’s not the only reason we’re here. We also have awesome ideas of the best ways to experience the entire fall season. We’ll tell you the best fall drives, the best fall hikes, where to find the best fall flavors at Oregon restaurants and new trip ideas that you’ve likely never heard of. Plus, we’ll post amazing deals on lodging, adventures and dining.

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Share your pictures with us by tagging them #ORFallFoliage. We’ll pick the best to use (with credit, of course) for our Fall Photos of the Day. Send us your favorite leaf pics from past years to get excited for Oregon Fall Foliage 2013.

Favorite Fall Hikes: French Pete Trail

Last Wednesday we were off to check out the French Pete Trail (#3311) along the Aufderheide Scenic Byway, a beautiful 60-mile road that connects McKenzie Bridge and Blue River to the north and Oakridge to the south.  I’d been on the Aufderheide many times before, but had always buzzed right by the French Pete Trailhead. (Note: the Aufderheide is a seasonal road that closes in late fall, depending on snowfall; always check road conditions first)

Fall Colors on French Pete Trail
After arriving at the trailhead,  I let the dogs out of the car off leash and they seemed to know that we were in for a great hike and camping trip.  Once the pack was donned, we were off to explore new sights!

French Pete Creek
The trail is only open to hikers (horses are strongly discouraged) and being that it’s a wilderness area, bikes are also no-no. The trail is heavily used for about the first mile, and then becomes a nice mushroom-lined path that parallels the creek below.  It’s been a while since I’ve camped in such a beautiful spot.

Colorful Tree on French Pete Trail
Only the first three miles of this moderately-difficult trail are maintained; I chose to cross the creek via a couple unmaintained log bridges and hiked a total of ten miles. The trail was nice in most spots, but at times became surprisingly steep and thin. There were more mushrooms on this trip than on any I’ve ever been on, averaging about one every 5 feet.  Also, the fall leaves here were at their peak and I took full advantage of my new camera to photograph the range of colors.  The dogs and I returned to town and unpacked the gear (they watched, I unpacked), content knowing that even a short trip to the woods is better than no trip at all…

-Andy Redick, guest contributor

Read the full story of Andy’s French Pete Trail camping trip, or of his many other adventures hiking, mountain biking, camping, snowshoeing and rock climbing around Oregon at http://www.andysoutdooradventures.blogspot.com/