Oregon Fall Foliage Update 11/14/2014

While it may be late fall, the first “winter” storm of the season walloped much of the state this week, bringing rain, ice, snow, and wind and knocking many leaves off of the trees. Please check local forecasts and road conditions before you head out on a fall adventure.

Eugene by Instagrammer jamiecongedo

Eugene by Instagrammer jamiecongedo

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Eugene escaped the brunt of the storm with just a whole lot of rain, nothing a good pair of rubber boots and a waterproof coat can’t help. The Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path offers a scenic, tranquil setting for Eugene’s cyclists and pedestrians any time of the year. Now, in the prime of our fall season, the path has become a portal to a warmly colored wonderland. Take this path, and allow it to lead you towards Delta Ponds. This protected wildlife area is a delicate habitat for many fragile species, with 150 acres of land housing more than 100 species of birds, numerous fish, and western pond turtles. The path is wheelchair accessible, and there are several places to park along Goodpasture Island Road.

The corridors of Highway 126 beg to be noticed. Driving toward the coast, roads are lined with ashy purples, brilliants tufts of flaming yellow, and lush, evergreen grass. The leaves have started to fall, and their color lends a lovely temporary coat to the ground. Even in misty rain, this drive is undeniably charming. Please note that McKenzie Pass (Hwy 242) has closed for the season. As always, check with TripCheck.com for road conditions before you head out.

McMinnville by doublemdesignandphotography 11.14.2014

McMinnville by doublemdesignandphotography

Oregon Coast
Mushrooms are running rampant on the Oregon Coast. Join fungi aficionados in Astoria and hunt for hearty edibles, such as chanterelles, king boletes, and lobster mushrooms. These guided tours are free, but you’ll need to bring your own basket for carrying home the day’s harvest. For fall color and a peek at some wildlife, visit Dean Creek Elk Preserve just outside of Reedsport. This viewing area is a year round residence for a large herd of Roosevelt elk and is located on Oregon’s scenic Route 38.

Willamette Valley
Embark on a moderate hike through the woods when you visit Peavey Arboretum in Corvallis. This 40 acre park, cared for by Oregon State University, is home to more than 100 different species of native and exotic plant life, and features a variety of pine, fir, and maple trees. Scout for fall color, but beware of poison oak on this four mile loop trail. In Molalla, hikers and horseback riders alike will enjoy the abundant wildlife and colorful displays of the Table Rock Wilderness area. Bring binoculars and a camera to savor these beautiful views.

Downtown Portland by Derek Walker

Downtown Portland by Derek Walker

Greater Portland
The streets of Portland are currently colored like an autumnal dreamscape. Cathedral Park, under the haunting gothic arches of the St. Johns Bridge, contributes to this with polka dots of freshly yellow trees. Set on the east bank of the Willamette River, the park offers walking trails and picnic benches for taking in the scene. In southeast Portland, walk the streets of Ladd’s Addition, an eight by ten block neighborhood of immaculate homes plotted on diagonal streets, lined entirely with American elm trees.

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Snow and ice blanketed the higher elevations of the Mt. Hood/ The Gorge area this week. However, brilliant golds and oranges can still be found in the lower elevations. Your best bet is around the Molalla River Recreation Area.

Central Oregon
Fall colors have been replaced by fluffy, white, snow in Central Oregon. Stay inside and get a head start on holiday shopping at the Bend Local Holiday Bazaar.

Eastern Oregon
Take a walk down Main Street in Baker City, where people are friendly and trees are fabulously fall-ish. Snow has arrived, and more is on its way. Perhaps this is a good weekend to squeeze in a relaxing game of golf. Quail Ridge Golf Club is a beautiful 18-hole, par-70 course set at the base of the Blue Mountains in Eastern Oregon. Play the green while taking in the color of the season.

Southern Oregon
Our Indian summer may have officially come to pass, but in the Southern Oregon town of Merlin, leaf hunters can still enjoy the colorful warmth from trees that inhabit Indian Mary Park. Explore the park’s 61 acres, or find a great place to fish on the banks of the Rogue River. In Ashland, get a taste of the community when you check out the Tuesday Market. Here, you can shop for the finest in locally grown produce, and specialty foods from a variety of mobile kitchens. The season is wrapping up, so don’t miss out!

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Oregon Fall Foliage Update 11/7/2014

Downtown Eugene by Brian Davies

Downtown Eugene by Brian Davies

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
Every tree, everywhere, is in full fall bloom. The Pacific Northwest is spoiling us with all of this brilliant color, soon to become a beautiful autumn memory. The banks of the Willamette River, landscapes seen from car windows while cruising down the highway, views from Mount Pisgah, Spencer and Skinner Butte, all resemble a box of crayons. Color your day “fall wonderful” and explore Dorris Ranch Living History Farm in Springfield. The season has painted this riparian hazelnut orchard in bold shades of yellow and gold. Rain or shine, the paved Middle Fork Path path offers a pleasant walk from Dorris Ranch to Clearwater Park.

Portland Japanese Garden by Instagrammer upperleftusa

Portland Japanese Garden by Instagrammer upperleftusa

Bring the kids to the 7th Annual Play in the Rain Day at Mount Pisgah Arboretum. Learn about outdoor adventures for kids and get inspired to play year-round. Activities include tree-climbing, nature crafts, hikes, hay rides, campfire cookery, native plants, archery, a visit from Smokey the Bear and much more! Parking and all activities, including campfire food, are free.

The holiday season is upon us! In Eugene this weekend, Valley River Inn will host the Annual Oregon Handmade Holiday Market featuring 30 local Etsy.com vendors.

Oregon Coast
Alfred A. Loeb State Park in Brookings is a great destination for those hoping to arrange one final camping trip before unfavorable weather conditions takeover the forecast. Enjoy the colors of fall as you relax by a fire or fish from the banks of the Chetco River, all the while indulging in the scent of surrounding myrtlewood trees. In Coos Bay, Shore Acres State Park, off of Cape Arago Highway, is looking fall fabulous, so be sure to include it on your weekend itinerary. For North Coast dwellers, Cannon Beach is hosting its 27th Annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival. During this three day event, the city’s galleries will present special exhibits, artist demonstrations, and host receptions for their guest artists. Check it out!

View from The Kitchen at Middleground Farms by Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory

View from The Kitchen at Middleground Farms by Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory

Willamette Valley
In Corvallis, take a stroll through the grounds of Oregon State University, where the weather is cool and the trees are on fire. Visit Salem, our state’s capital city, and wander around the campus of Willamette University. The historic brick buildings are picturesque with the seasonal backdrop of gold and yellow.

Greater Portland
In Portland, make the trip to Washington Park. This beautiful lookout point, located at the top of Skyline Boulevard, is surrounded by historic neighborhoods with well kept yards, and offers nearly instant access to a bevy of recreational hot spots. From here, you can easily visit the Portland Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden, and Hoyt Arboretum. Ride the novelty train through the park from the Oregon Zoo, or stop by the World Forestry Center. Washington Park is sure to have something for everyone. If traipsing this urban paradise leaves you feeling hungry, check out the Beaverton Saturday Farmers Market, featuring local food, produce, and craft vendors.

Multnomah Falls by Instagrammer patrickernest

Multnomah Falls by Instagrammer patrickernest

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
For great fall color, the Columbia Gorge has a variety of hikes and scenic viewpoints to choose from. One option is Horsetail Falls, a 2.6 mile loop trail located off of the Historic Columbia River Highway. This easily accessible waterfall is flanked by brilliant yellow aspen trees in a tranquil forest setting. Bridal Veil Falls is another excellent viewpoint for color, also located off of this highway. For more of a challenge and an excellent payoff, try Angel’s Rest, a 4.5 mile hike with a 1,800 foot elevation gain. Trek through a fern-filled forest to reach the summit, which overlooks Beacon Rock, and Silver Star Mountain.

Central Oregon
Snow, and other dangerous weather conditions set in fairly quickly after fall gets started. As a result, many state parks and trailheads experience closures after October. Perhaps this is the weekend for a drive on one of Central Oregon’s scenic byways. Take a ride on the McKenzie Pass – Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, a potential three to five hours of cruising that could take you through Mount Washington Wilderness, the Three Sisters area, and over the Santiam Wagon Road Trail. Make a pit stop at Sahalie and Koosah Falls, or on the other side, Proxy Falls. There are colors abound! Get out and catch them.

Lithia Park in Ashland by Bill Langton

Lithia Park in Ashland by Bill Langton

Eastern Oregon
For an incredible adventure in fall foliage, spend some time soaking in the Alvord Hot Springs. Set in the Oregon high desert at an elevation of over 4,000 feet, this remote location is open year round and offers immaculate views of Steens Mountain and all of its seasonal glory. The springs are more than 100 miles southeast of Burns. Remodeled in 2013, the springs feature a public parking lot, bathrooms, and even a small general store. Be ready to pay a $5 day use fee for this experience. In La Grande, check out the Nightingale Gallery’s 27th Annual Season’s Faire Exhibit. Now through December 6th, this exhibit will house the work of over thirty artists competing for a $1,000 prize! Support the arts if you’re in town.

Southern Oregon
Ashland’s Lithia Park is all sorts of spectacular. Trees may have reached their peak earlier in the week, but for now, colors are still blazing brightly. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in Lakeview features a beautifully turned aspen forest and is home to several species of wildlife. Bring binoculars to help put these native plants and animals into focus. Outdoor marketplaces will soon retire for the season, so if you’re passing through Grants Pass on a Saturday morning, pull over for a showcase of the finest produce, specialty gourmet foods, and crafts from local artists. The Grants Pass Growers Market is second only to the Rogue River as one of the area’s greatest attractions. Plan a trip before November ends, or you’ll have to wait until next year.

Oregon Fall Foliage Update 10/24/2014

Oregon Coast
Coming from any direction, the winding drive to the Oregon Coast sure is a pretty one. From Eugene, take Hwy 126 through Mapleton. As its namesake may hint, Mapleton is full of vibrant, orange, maple trees, but that’s not all. Be on the lookout for golden yellow alders and cottonwoods as well. Driving from Corvallis, take Hwy 34, which follows the Alsea River through the town of Tidewater. Even through dull spats of cool rain, the river valley corridors glow with the warmth of fall color. Head to Newport via Hwy 20, where mushroom season is in full swing. Though some trees may be evergreen, the forest floor is teeming with brilliant color. Pops of orange, purple and red peek through fallen leaves and debris. The Oregon Coast boasts a wider variety of mushroom species than anywhere else in the world. This weekend, lace up your boots, and get a jump on these little guys!

Japanese maple at the University of Oregon by Brian Davies

Japanese maple at the University of Oregon by Brian Davies

Willamette Valley
The Willamette Valley is currently stunning as the fall season has definitely reached its peak. Beautiful treetops colored in purple, pink, orange, and yellow line neighborhood streets, can be seen from highways, and all along the banks of the Willamette and McKenzie Rivers. Mount your bicycle and cruise down some of downtown Eugene’s newly paved city blocks. For a short and scenic ride, take 5th Street to High, and wind your way to W 3rd Avenue. Cruise up Skinner Butte, a local viewpoint that overlooks a good portion of Eugene. After taking pictures, reward yourself with a fast-paced, downhill decent. In Corvallis, experience the 12th Annual Philomath Open Studio Tour. Explore beautiful back roads as you embark on a self-guided tour of open artist studios this weekend and next, from noon to 5 p.m.

St. Johns Bridge in Portland by Instagrammer mikephotog

St. Johns Bridge in Portland by Instagrammer mikephotog

Greater Portland
Rain is coming, but that doesn’t keep us Oregonians inside. Dust off those galoshes and head to Council Crest Park, the highest point in the Tualatin Mountains (Portland’s West Hills). From this observation area, one can easily view several mountains of the Cascade Range, as well as the Willamette River, and acres of wonderfully colored deciduous and evergreen forest. Trees along the Columbia River Slough, beginning at Fairview Lake, are also looking vibrant. The Slough continues for 19 miles, and flows by the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Historical Park and Gardens. Visit the elusive Zimmerman House, open the 3rd Saturday of every month, for exotic flora, Oregon white oak, Siberian dogwood, and so much more!

Mt. Hood/ The Gorge
Have you ever opened your backdoor to discover a wild, rushing waterfall, complete with breathtaking views of lush, riparian vegetation? Standing at 208 feet tall and located directly outside of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, Wah Gwin Gwin Falls is just that. Flanked by firs, cottonwoods, big leaf maples, Oregon ash trees and twisted pines, this natural wonder (named for the Chinook Indian term for “rushing waters”) is an unbeatable sight. Though the grounds of this hotel are radiant any time of the year, in the fall, they truly shine. Colors have reached their peak in the Mt. Hood and Gorge areas, so plan your trip, and take part in the season!

Kayakers on the Deschutes River by Instagrammer jennybowlden

Kayakers on the Deschutes River by Instagrammer jennybowlden

Central Oregon
It is more than halfway through October and Bend is still beautiful. Take in particularly good views of Mount Bachelor as you drive along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Make Terrebonne your destination and visit Smith Rock State Park, one of Travel Oregon’s Seven Wonders of Oregon. This is an excellent trailhead, offering a number of ways to conquer this beautiful crag. Opt for the Misery Ridge Trail and head straight up its side, or traipse along the water via the Mesa Verde Trail. When you reach the top, gaze across the Crooked River and Haystack Reservoir for grand views of riparian foliage. Choose another direction, and drive westward on Hwy 126 toward Camp Sherman. Located between Black Butte and the head of the Metolius River, Camp Sherman is a great place to spend an afternoon and enjoy autumnal color.

Tamaracks from the Elkhorn Scenic Loop in Eastern Oregon by George Herbert

Tamaracks from the Elkhorn Scenic Loop in Eastern Oregon by George Herbert

Eastern Oregon
Eastern Oregon is such a show off! Fall color is present at every turn, and if you’d like to catch it, now is the time. Do so by exploring one of Oregon’s most challenging sections of highway, Hwy 245, otherwise known as the Dooley Mountain Highway. Along this stretch, you will enjoy a tree line of golden aspen, as well as tamarack, which are turning beautifully right now. This twisting road reaches an elevation of 4,000 feet, and drivers are advised to take it easy on sharp corners, especially in stormy weather. As you zoom on through by car or by motorcycle, be on the lookout for deer, elk, and spectacular views of fall foliage!

Southern Oregon
Fall is fleeting in Southern Oregon, and the evergreen trees near Crater Lake are dusted with snow. While this may be great news for winter sports enthusiasts, it feels a little bittersweet for leaf watchers like us. However, the Clearwater River Trail still offers hope of autumn visions. Clear blue pools, small waterfalls, and a dense canopy of old growth Douglas fir, cedar, and bright yellow alder trees await you on this two-mile trail. Located just past the Toketee Ranger Station, this trail is ideal for mountain biking and runs parallel to the Clearwater River. Check it out sooner than later, as more snow is predicted.