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.

Favorite Fall Hikes: McKenzie River National Recreation Trail

McKenzie River Trail
The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail is a 26.5-mile long favorite of mountain bikers, hikers and families alike. With numerous spots to camp, relax, take in stunning scenery and enjoy the tranquility of cascading waterfalls, there’s something for everyone along this popular national recreation trail.  Multiple access points take you through lava beds, lakes, reservoirs, waterfalls, cold-water creeks and dense old-growth forests.

There are eleven different trailheads that offer easy access along Highway 126, but our favorite spot to begin a fall hike is at Clear Lake. Here the trail circumnavigates the lake through dense forest and lava fields.  Right now the fall colors are really starting to show on the east side of the lake near Coldwater Cove Campground.

Clear LakeA three thousand year-old lava flow is responsible for creating Clear Lake, one of the beautiful lakes of Oregon. Located off of Highway 126 between Eugene and Bend, this is where the majestic McKenzie River Trail begins.

After circling Clear Lake, the trail crosses Highway 126, where a 1-mile hike brings you to the first of two majestic waterfalls, Sahalie Falls.  From here, take the easy round-trip 1.5-mile hike to Koosah Falls, or set out on a longer, exhilarating hike to Tamolitch Pool, where the McKenzie River reemerges from underground into a crystal blue pool.

McKenzie River between Sahalie and Koosah FallsThe McKenzie River between Sahalie and Koosah Falls

The closest trailhead to the pool is at Trailbridge Reservoir off of USFS Road 655. From the parking area at the trailhead, head east on the McKenzie River Trail for approximately two miles.  This stretch of trail offers a spectacular tapestry of fall colors and plenty of opportunities for bird watching.

Tamolitch PoolTamolitch Pool

For more ideas and trip-planning tools to help you plan a fall hike along this trail, visit www.travellanecounty.org or stop by the Eugene, Cascades & Coast Adventure Center.