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.

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Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/10/2014

Seal Rock by doublemdesignandphotography

Seal Rock by doublemdesignandphotography

Oregon Coast
Fall color is in full swing! Take a trip to Sweet Creek Falls, one of Eugene, Cascades & Coast’s 7 Wonderful Waterfalls, located outside of Mapleton on Highway 126. This wonderful family-friendly trail is canopied by Douglas firs, aspen trees and big leaf maples, and is a great way to stretch your legs and breathe in that crisp fall air. Try a drive along the Umpqua River Scenic Byway (Highway 38) from Elkton to Loon Lake in Reedsport. There are several wineries along this route, all of which are flanked by vibrant, manicured yards. Enjoy a crisp glass of riesling from Brandborg Winery, or pull up to River’s Edge Winery, which overlooks the Umpqua River. While on the coast, be sure to catch Harvest at the Harbor in Brookings for a splendid autumn day full of pumpkin carving and cobbler cook-offs. Costumes are encouraged!

Near Buena Vista Ferry near Salem (pic by Debbie Lusk)

Near Buena Vista Ferry near Salem (pic by Debbie Lusk)

Willamette Valley
Peak is upon us in the Willamette Valley, so seize the season in every direction! From Salem, take a westward drive along Highway 22 toward Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge to see beautiful fall hues, as well as a wide variety of animals in their natural habitat. To the east, take Highway 126 from Eugene to Clear Lake. Plan to immerse in elegant visions of riparian foliage. Spend an afternoon walking the five mile trail that loops around the Lake. See the golds, oranges and reds of the native big leaf and vine maples. The weather is cooling down, so dress in layers for your excursion. Afterwards, reheat with a dip in one of the area’s many natural hot springs. Try Belknap, or cruise Highway 58 to enjoy Cougar or McCredie for a relaxing outdoor soak.

Vineyard & Valley Scenic Tour Route, Beaverton (Photo: Oregon's Washington County)

Vineyard & Valley Scenic Tour Route, Beaverton (Photo: Oregon’s Washington County)

Greater Portland
Climbers have the advantage this time of year, as the best views of fall foliage are usually from a bird’s eye. Visit Lewis and Clark State Park, just east of Troutdale, for some excellent climbing opportunities. Survey the landscape from up high on Broughton Bluff, or pack a picnic and hang out by the Columbia River. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, stroll through Elk Rock Garden. This immaculately maintained yard is full of colorful oaks, maples, and ash trees, and provides hours of visual stimulus.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Fall color is cloaking valleys and mountains near Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge. Cold weather is setting in, and the lifts at Palmer Snowfield will soon be opening. Foliage seekers will no longer have to hike for beautiful views of the great outdoors. On a clear day, you can see the rolling hills of the Cascade Mountains, as well as any color popping up around the Alpine Lakes. If you’re looking to get your blood pumping, try a mountain bike ride from Timberline to the scenic town of Rhododendron. Feel the wind on this fifteen mile ride as you appreciate your seasonal surroundings.

Central Oregon
The weather is gorgeous and fall foliage is at its peak. Though some trees have already shed their leaves for the season, aspens are just beginning to turn their golden yellow. Take a drive from Mt. Washington to Bend’s NorthWest Crossing neighborhood to see these aspens in full effect. Enjoy an afternoon in Drake Park while overlooking Mirror Pond, and stay to watch the sunset. Right now, the Deschutes River is roaring through Benham Falls. Crowds are low this time of year, so bring the family and experience fall in Central Oregon.

Eastern Oregon
We are one week into October, and lots of colors are showing up on the banks of the Powder and Snake Rivers, which border the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. Copperfield Park, located just below the Oxbow Dam, and Cornucopia Lodge are great stops for sightseeing along this route. Rock climbers may want to make the trip to Burnt River Canyon, which boasts a pretty spectacular aerial scene between the towns of Durkee and Bridgeport. The Elkhorn Scenic Byway is another excellent route for fall foliage. The 106-mile loop will take you through the Elkhorn Mountains, and also through the town of Haines, Oregon. This weekend, be a part of the Haines Harvest Festival, a daylong celebration of all things fall and harvest.

Crater Lake Lodge

Crater Lake Lodge

Southern Oregon
Brilliant colors are coming forth throughout Southern Oregon. Beautiful fall foliage can be seen in the Upper Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, located just off of Highway 140, from Rocky Point Junction. Stunning hues also dwell in lower elevations, in areas such as Clover Creek, and along Dead Indian Memorial Road. Visit Crater Lake Lodge, where color has almost peaked. The landscape here is awash in red, yellow, and light green.

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/3/2014

Along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness by wildernessadventureimages via Instagram

Along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness by wildernessadventureimages via Instagram

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
This is the weekend to explore the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. While the leaves are still two to three weeks from peak, the weather could not be any better for getting in one last hike, bike ride or sun-kissed wine tasting weekend in the South Willamette Valley. Stroll through historic University of Oregon campus, where environment and architecture complement one another and engulf you in the feeling of fall. If you’re looking for festive family fun, visit Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm for their annual celebration of October, known as Colonial Harvest Days. Pick a pumpkin, assemble a beautiful dahlia bouquet, or hop aboard a giant hay bale in the shape of a ship called “The Hayflower”. Make memories, and start a new tradition! Dig out your lederhosen for authentic German food, bier, wiener dog races, and music at the first ever Florence Oktoberfest. For more fall ideas, check out the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Blog post: Five Ways to Have a Fabulous Fall.

Oregon Coast
Days have been clear, bright, and blustery on the Oregon Coast, the perfect forecast for the annual Lincoln City Fall Kite Festival. Grab your family and your best flyer, and meet where the waves hit the beach. Venture even further into the outdoors, and take a trek on the Drift Creek Falls Trail. Flanked by ferns, alder trees and vine maples, this amazing trail is great for fall foliage and boasts a 240-foot-long cable suspension bridge. Don’t miss this beautiful place.

Willamette Valley
A brief rain returned to the Willamette Valley earlier this week, and the earth is looking healthily refreshed. Dew covered blades of grass support the fallen leaves of trees that dried out, browned, and died early in the season, while other survivors hold tightly to branches. Foliage found in parks, near riverbanks, and in neighborhoods gleam with yellow speckles and red blush.

Steens Mountain by petealport via Instagram

Steens Mountain by petealport via Instagram

Greater Portland
The air in Portland is growing crisp. As people are wrapping up in raincoats and sweaters, fall colors are gently wrapping themselves around the landscape. Trees and shrubbery along highways and city blocks are showing gradients of color, ranging from deep purple to a bright orange tang. Ride the Portland Aerial Tram and gaze over all of downtown, taking in views of Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and neighborhoods to the south.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Elevation is the key to unlocking fall foliage, so get as high as you can. While driving down the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway, pull over at the Jonsrud Viewpoint for excellent sights that overlook the entire Sandy River Valley. Fall is upon us, and soon, farmers markets will move indoors. Stop and shop at the Gresham Farmer’s Market, Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., now through the end of October.

Central Oregon
Rain and wind have rocked Central Oregon this last week, bringing down temperatures, and also pine needles! Take a ride on the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, a 66-mile historic highway accentuated by 14 alpine lakes. Try a hike near Todd Lake, where it is the end of the huckleberry season and the once green bushes are turning gold. Bid a pleasant farewell to the end of wildflower season as you notice the newly orange leaves of surrounding trees. Once back in town, celebrate all things fall with the 19th Annual Bend Fall Festival, featuring free concerts and a harvest market.

Eastern Oregon
The pinnacle of fall color is still a few weeks out, but Eastern Oregon has definitely undergone some seasonal changes. Put yourself in the middle of it all with a drive through Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, a favorite route for foliage. Between the towns of Halfway and Joseph, Forest Service Road 39 offers some spectacular leaf peeping opportunities and breathtaking backdrops of the Wallowas, one of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon. This high elevation route usually peaks a little earlier, making the next two weeks ideal for visiting. Catch this section of the byway before October 15, as it will close for construction after this date. While in Baker City, mosey on over to the Taste of Baker and Artist Studio Tour, an annual showcase of the community’s diverse artists, featuring local crafts and food vendors.

Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass

Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass

Southern Oregon
Colors are beginning to pop all over Southern Oregon, and over the next two weeks, metamorphosis is expected. Though the region is receiving its first freeze advisories, the weather right now still feels perfect for outdoor activity. Take a drive down Hwy 140, the primary connection between Medford and Klamath Falls that is also known as the Lake of the Woods Hwy. Bring snacks, dress in layers, and challenge yourself with a ten mile, round-trip hike up Mount McLoughlin. Reaching an altitude of almost 9,500 feet, this mountain is the highest point between the Three Sisters and Mount Shasta. Views from the top can be breathtaking. This difficult hike is an excellent way to acclimate yourself to the season. Make a weekend of it, and after your day of incline, unwind at Schmidt Family Vineyards in Grants Pass. Walk in and explore the well-kept grounds, or call ahead for a reservation and join the Wine and Foodies Wine Release, an afternoon of sampling and indulgence.