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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.