Weekly Update 10/07/2010

Katsura treeThe heart-shaped leaves of this Katsura tree at Mount Pisgah Arboretum begin to turn bright yellow at the top and slowly spread downward.
Image courtesy Katura Reynolds, Mount Pisgah Arboretum

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The leaves are approaching peak color change in the upper Cascades, and just starting in the Willamette Valley and at the coast at Florence. The McKenzie River Trail (MRT) is covered in leaves this week, and more red than yellow is visible along the upper trail. Arrange a shuttle with the experts at the McKenzie River Mountain Resort to ride the entire MRT before soaking in the colors along the McKenzie River from the hot springs at Belknap Hot Springs Resort. Around Eugene, the ash trees are approaching peak color change, but most other species are just starting to change color. Leaves are beginning to line Highway 126 to Florence, and a few pockets of yellow and orange break up the mostly green backdrop.

Coast
The colors are just starting to change along the coast and in the coast range. Leaf watchers predict peak color change in two weeks. Highway 26 from Seaside to Portland is a beautiful drive, with yellow leaves falling along the roadside. The Coos Highway, OR Route 241 east of Coos Bay, looks great this week as you head to Golden and Silver Falls. The Umpqua River Scenic Byway is a gorgeous drive that will only get better into November. Maples are turning yellow along North Ridge Trail on Mary’s Peak. Start this hike from the Woods Creek Trailhead on Woods Creek Road off of Highway 20.

Willamette Valley
The color change is approaching peak in the higher elevations of the Cascades, and is just beginning to pop in the valley. Leaves show red, gold and yellow throughout the mountains and in the city parks. Highway 22 east into the Cascades and Highway 33 west into the coast range offers the most spectacular color show this week. This is a good time for an urban hike in Salem at Minto-Brown Island Park, Riverfront Park or Bush’s Pasture Park. Stay in Cottage Grove for a ride along the Row River Trail or a cycling tour of wineries. For great views in Oregon City, head to the top of the hill at Mountain View Cemetery.

Greater Portland
The colors are just starting to change in the Portland area. There is still a lot of green, and the tips of trees are showing just a dusting of gold and red. The roses in the International Rose Test Garden are on their third bloom of the season, and should show colors through the end of October. Peak color change for the leaves is still several weeks away. While the weather is dry and crisp, take a bike ride down the Springwater Corridor from downtown Portland to Sellwood, which runs through Oak Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Take advantage of one of the clear days this month and ride the OHSU Arial Tram for views of up to five different mountains, the Willamette River, and the city of Portland.

Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Gorge
The leaves are at or approaching peak color change on Mt Hood above 2000 feet, and are approaching peak at lower elevations along Highway 26 and Highway 35. Leaf watchers predict colors around peak change for the next four weeks. The colors are approaching peak east of Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge, and are just starting west of Hood River. There is some color change at Multnomah Falls, although it is still at least two weeks away from its peak. For great photos, drive Road 39 or hike Mirror Lake Trail, Paradise Park Trail or Pioneer Bridle Trial. Don’t forget to pack a snack – the apples and pears in this region are in season and out of this world!

Southern Oregon
The leaves are just starting to turn in Southern Oregon. It will be more than two weeks before the leaves reach their peak. Leaves are tipped with oranges and yellows, with some trees changing more than others. Take a self-guided audio tour of historic Jacksonville before catching early fall colors along OR Route 238. Outside of Roseburg, stop for a photo at Watson Falls on the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, a year-round beauty and a fall classic, expected to show peak color change in three weeks.

Bend fall colorMt. Washington Road in Bend
Image courtesy Central Oregon Visitors Association

Central Oregon
The color change is approaching peak in the higher elevations of central Oregon. Although many of the trees are still holding onto their summer green, bright oranges and yellows, rich golds and hazy browns mark trails and roads throughout the region. Check out the colors on Mt. Washington Road before catching BendFilm. The ferns are alive with color on the Metolious River in Camp Sherman. While you are there, you can fly-fish along the Metolius, one of Central Oregon’s best-kept secrets for trophy-size trout and Kokanee. Stop at the fish hatchery, then visit the headwaters of the Metolius River, where a crystal-clear spring bubbles to the surface to create the majestic river.

Eastern Oregon
The color change is at or approaching peak in the higher elevations of eastern Oregon, and is just beginning to change in the lower elevations. In southeastern Oregon, Frenchglen saw peak color change that is predicted to last for the next two weeks. This is the week to head into the Steens Mountains, where the aspen are turning yellow. Drive the Steens Loop Rd to Big Indian Gorge Trail, where great views await for the enthusiastic hiker. In northeastern Oregon, gorgeous aspen are yellow along the Elkhorn Scenic Byway, which passes through colorful Sumpter.

Weekly Update 9/30/2010

Fall colors in BendFall colors are starting to show in Bend.
Image courtesy Central Oregon Visitors Association

Fall colors have started throughout the state, with yellowing big leaf maples in the Willamette Valley and red vine maples in the Cascades. Oregonians will spend this weekend cheering on our favorite football teams, casting about in local streams, cruising country roads with the top down and kicking back among the brightly colored trees. Where will this weekend’s warm afternoons find you?

Eugene, Cascades & Coast
The colors are just starting to change in the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region. Pockets of yellow are visible along the Siuslaw River between Florence and Eugene. Leaf watchers report the most color change on the Middle Fork of the Willamette south of Hills Creek Reservoir, where orange vine maple, red huckleberry and yellowing big leaf maple are visible along the Middle Fork Trail (Beware of colorful poison oak along this trail). Highway 242, part of the McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway, comes highly recommended for travelers. Just a few big leaf maples are turning yellow up the North Fork along the Aufderheide Scenic Byway. Gorgeous red, orange and yellow trees line the streets of the University of Oregon neighborhood in Eugene.

Coast
The color change is just starting in the coast range. Near Coos Bay, there is quite a bit of yellow and red; drive Highway 42 for views of fall colors. Combine fall foliage with elk viewing at Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area along Highway 38 near Reedsport. Cape Perpetua is starting to yellow and has miles of trails and several viewpoints with plenty of opportunities for scenic snapshots.

Willamette Valley
The colors are just starting to change in the Willamette Valley and are getting richer every day. The warmer weather gives most of the valley the feel of late summer, with brown grass and flashes of color on trees. This is a great weekend to explore the Willamette River Water Trail, bike the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, or attend a local event like the Art Harvest Studio Tour of Yamhill County.

Greater Portland
The colors are just starting to change in the Portland area. Golden hues are topping trees throughout Portland, and the reds are just beginning to peek out of a few trees. Autumn breezes have begun to rustle leaves of the trees in the parks downtown. Head out to Hood River Valley to see the leaves change on the Fruit Loop, stop at farm stands and check out the Hood River Hops Fest. In the city, don’t miss the vibrant colors displayed in the Japanese Garden. Washington Park would be a good place to take photos this week.

Mt. Hood/ Columbia River Gorge
The color change is just starting on Mt Hood and along the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls is mostly green with a little showing of yellow. The vine maples at the lower elevations on Mt Hood are orange and the rhododendrons are yellow. Even with very little color change, the Columbia River Gorge is always a gorgeous photo opportunity. Visit the Vista House near Crown Point. On Mt Hood, travel up to Lolo pass and hike at the higher elevations to see the most color change. Oregon City is a good place for taking photos this week.

Southern Oregon
The colors are just starting to change in southern Oregon. Leaf watchers spotted the first reds of fall this week. Lithia Park along the Rogue River and Canyonville are really pretty right now. The waterfalls along the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, Highway 138, would be a great place to capture some great shots of waterfalls and trees at the same time.

Central Oregon
In Central Oregon fall colors are just starting. Warmer weather provides a fabulous time to soak up some sunny days outdoors before winter starts creeping into the high desert. Although many of the trees are still holding onto their summer green, some trees are displaying mustard yellows, burnt oranges and crimson reds. Mt. Washington Road in Bend is always a favorite for sighting a rainbow of fall colors. Don’t miss out on the last few weeks of being able to travel along the beautiful McKenzie Scenic Byway on Highway 242, where you will find a striking contrast of bright foliage against dark lava. Find out why Bend and Central Oregon has been recognized as a “Top 10 Amazing Mountain Bike Destination” by Bike Magazine while enjoying the fall color on the Deschutes River Trail. Throughout the month of October, enjoy the fall harvest season at the Central Oregon Pumpkin Company in Terrebonne, with commanding views of Smith Rock State Park.

Eastern Oregon
The color change is just starting in the lower elevations of eastern Oregon and approaching peak in the next few weeks at the higher elevations of the Steens Mountains. Warm days have slowed the color change, but yellows, golds and oranges are visible at the lower elevations. Local leaf peepers expect a long fall foliage season in southeastern Oregon due to mild weather this fall. The Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge visitor center is a great place to view wildlife; this week, a flock of sandhill cranes migrated through. From the visitor center, head out to one of the viewpoints and up into the Steens for more dramatic color change. The meadows around Fish Lake and the Kiger Gorge Overlook near Jackman Park are great spots for fall photos right now.