Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/30/2014

Currin Bridge by Instagrammer erica2

Currin Bridge by Instagrammer erica2

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Welcome to Eugene, Cascades & Coast, where pink and yellow trees dot the landscape and every neighborhood street is alive with the flair of fall color. This weekend, may we suggest some urban hiking? You won’t have to travel too far beyond your own backyard to immerse yourself in a wide spectrum of color, fleeting as it may be. Hike up Lincoln Street, beginning from downtown Eugene, and take it to the top. This pretty little stretch will tie a few miles under your belt, pass you through a wooded dog park, and land you in a graveyard, the Mount Cavalry Cemetery. Watch out for ghosts and goblins. Boo! The Fifth Street Public “Haunted” Market is all tricked out in pumpkins and cobwebs and ready for trick-or-treaters. Admission to the family-friendly event is three cans of food to be donated to Food For Lane County or $3.
Head to the Eugene, Cascades & Coast website for more Halloween festivals.

Eugene by Instagram naoyagram

Eugene by Instagram naoyagram

Oregon Coast
When the rains come, water levels rise. Check out Alder Glen Falls, an ever-changing waterfall in the town of Tillamook that flows with more gusto once the wetter seasons set in. Situated in a moss-draped setting of alder and maple trees along the banks of the Nestucca River, this spot is sure to please fall foliage hunters. Further south, things are getting spooky in North Bend. Experience CarnEVIL, a haunted house presented by the players of the Little Theater on the Beach. Ambiance will be complete with costumes, lighting effects, wicked music, and mazes that would fool a rat. The price is $5 for adults and $3 for those under 13, though the staff suggests that no very young children attend as the performances are scarily realistic!

Linfield College by doublemdesignandphotography

Linfield College by doublemdesignandphotography

Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley has reached its peak. Recent storms have made for dark grey skies, and vibrancy is dying off. Leaves are falling and snow is in the forecast for higher elevations, so get out and enjoy the last of the fall colors while you still can! Take a scenic drive to Silverton, and visit the Oregon Garden, open to the public 365 days a year and always offering something special to see. Throughout October, Wave Broadband will be hosting Scarecrows in the Garden, a fun, month-long display of locally made scarecrows. Vote for you favorite, and you might win an overnight stay at the Oregon Garden Resort.

Portland by Instagrammer bryangeli

Portland by Instagrammer bryangeli

Greater Portland
Greater Portland is looking good. The Camassia Natural Area, located 30 minutes outside of Portland in West Linn, is wonderful for walking about and viewing some excellent fall foliage. Volunteers with the Nature Conservancy have restored more than 26 acres of oak woodlands and meadows for public access. This is a great spot for birders. Ospreys nest onsite, and chickadees, warblers, and vireos can be found on the forest’s edge. To put yourself in a Halloween state of mind, make this your weekend to visit Pittock Mansion. Not only does this mansion overlook the city, it is also rumored to be haunted.

Oregon Garden

Oregon Garden

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Rain should hold off this weekend in the Mt. Hood and Gorge areas, so take a walk in Tucker County Park. This park, located on the Hood River, is a go-to for locals, with its lush vegetation and easy access to the Columbia Gorge. Tucker Park is a designated viewing area on the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail and is sure to offer an all-inclusive fall foliage experience. Fish for trout in the river, explore the natural paths, and wind your way through this wonderful forest.

Central Oregon
The fall colors in Bend and around Central Oregon are somewhere between past peak and done for the season. A few trees have fully shed their leaves, but most are still showing their fall glory. A drive down Highway 20, near Suttle Lake, reveals orange vine maples, a white to yellow carpet of ferns, and golden tamaracks. Snow is coming, and soon, the Old McKenzie Highway (Hwy 242) will close for the season. This might be the last weekend to visit the Dee Wright Observatory and its 65-square mile lava flow, so seize this route before it becomes unavailable.

Eastern Oregon
Fall color in Baker County is at its peak. Depending on winds from seasonal storms, color is expected to remain vibrant for at least another week. The best colors right now are in the valleys, particularly in the towns Baker City, Haines, and Halfway. Higher in the mountains, the once glorious aspens are starting to bare their branches. Tamaracks, however, are still looking great.

Southern Oregon
A chill has spread across the land of Southern Oregon, rain and winds are here to stay. In areas where snow has not yet set in, leaf hunters may still be able to catch a glimpse of fall color. Head to the town of Gold Hill via 1-5 South, and visit the Oregon Vortex. Located beyond the bend of the Rogue River, and situated on the scenic left fork of Sardine Creek Road, this strange house was voted one of Oregon’s 11 Scariest Haunted Places. The light mist that Mother Nature is sure to provide this weekend will add to the structure’s unsettling ambiance, so grab a camera and plan your course. Happy hunting!

Fall Drive: Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Office Bridge in Westfir

Office Bridge in Westfir

This is the week to drive the Aufderheide Scenic Drive, a 60-mile segment of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. The paved forest service road, also referred to as USFS Road 19, connects Highway 126 along the McKenzie River to Highway 58 near Oakridge. It traverses stunning old growth forests, meadows and wild and scenic rivers.

While there isn’t much of a variety of color, the honey yellow big leaf maples glow surrounded by the mostly deciduous forest, turquoise blue fork of the Willamette River and cardinal red covered bridge.

Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Start at the north end at Highway 126 in Rainbow and head south. Before you leave, pick up a free audio tour on CD at the McKenzie River Ranger Station, which is closed on the weekends. If you are going south to north, the Middle Fork Ranger Station on Highway 58 also has them. Head out with a full tank of gas and a picnic because there aren’t any options along the route.

The best colors are in the higher elevations from milepost 31 – 14, between Erma Bell Lakes Trail and Huckleberry Flats. Other highlights include Terwilliger Hot Springs, Cougar Reservoir between mileposts 50 and 51 and the historic Box Canyon Guard Station, which makes a perfect midpoint stop.

Cougar Reservoir from the Aufderheide Scenic Drive

Cougar Reservoir from the Aufderheide Scenic Drive

The Aufderheide comes to a dramatic end in Westfir, taking you right past Oregon’s longest existing covered bridge. The pomegranate red Office Bridge spans a fork of the Willamette River and once connected the Westfir Lumber Company to the main office.

Your journey shouldn’t end here. Before you head home, grab some fish and chips and a pint of freshly brewed English cask ale at the Brewers Union Local 180 in nearby Oakridge. While you’re there, pick up a Eugene Ale Trail passport and ask for a stamp.

The Aufderheide is a seasonal road that becomes unpassable in the winter.

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.