For many, the best part of fall is watching the leaves change colors. Trees painted with vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges—and every shade in-between—make the changing fall foliage a popular part of the season around the nation, and you can find some of the best fall colors right here in Oregon. There are a number of places throughout the state where these beautiful autumn colors are on full display amid the great outdoors. Here are some of Mr. Tree’s favorite places to check out Oregon’s fall colors.
Silver Falls State Park
Of course, we have to recommend a place that has “fall” in its name. It’s just the spot to check out the changing leaves this time of year. People call Silver Falls the “crown jewel” of the Oregon park system, and once you visit, it’s not hard to see why. Of course, the breathtaking waterfalls are a big attraction for visitors to the state park.
But while you’re here, you’ll definitely want to hike the Trail of Ten Falls. The seven-mile loop is a moderate hike that will take you through a densely forested landscape. You can also take one of the connecting trails for a shorter route. Surrounded by the dense forest, this trail is the perfect way to see some of the best colors Oregon has to offer. Red alder and vine maple are just a couple of tree species you’re likely to see here.
Deschutes River Trail
Deschutes River Trail is a great central Oregon destination for viewing spectacular fall foliage. Located next to its namesake river, the Deschutes River Trail will take you on a 12-mile long journey through the heart of Bend, Oregon. The northern part of the trail is recommended for those seeking more of a nature hike and hoping to spot a burst of fall Oregon colors. Walk or mountain bike along this popular trail that is dotted with plenty of juniper and pine trees, among others.
Willamette Valley Vineyards
If you’re looking for a more relaxing nature experience, head to the Willamette Valley vineyards, where you can enjoy the fall foliage while also winding down with a bottle of your favorite wine. Sip on a glass of crisp Chardonnay or a refreshing rosé as you take in the surrounding beauty of the vineyard. In the midst of the hilly landscape, you’ll be able to enjoy fine wine while also appreciating the beauty of Oregon’s fall colors.
If you want to take in the fall foliage on a scenic drive, then you’ll definitely want to explore the McKenzie River. The McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway features hours of contrasting landscapes. On the east side of the Cascade Mountains, you’re likely to spot golden grasslands and lodgepole pine. As you continue onward, you’ll cross over into fir and cedar forests. Along the way, you can stop at scenic viewpoints to capture photos of the beautiful changing fall landscape.
You can also drive down the McKenzie River Highway, which features the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail. This trail is great for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring the changing fall colors. In fact, it was rated by Outside Magazine as one of the 10 Great American Mountain Biking Trails. Enhancing the beauty of the natural landscape are two roadside waterfalls, the Koosah and Sahalie Falls. An easy 2.6-mile loop trail connects both, allowing for easy access to each.
Mt. Hood Scenic Loop
This is another one of our favorite drives come autumn. The Hood River Valley is known as one of the world’s greatest fruit-growing regions. As you take the scenic drive through this popular area, you’ll spot the pear, cherry, and apple trees the region is known for. You’ll also come across plenty of farm stands and wine tasting rooms as you make your way through the valley amid stunning, picture-perfect views. The byway leads to Mt. Hood, where you can explore the Mt. Hood National Forest for even more incredible views of fall foliage.
To enjoy the beauty of fall in a serene landscape, head to Drake Park, where you can view fall colors on full display next to Mirror Pond. The pond acts as a reflecting pool, mirroring the beautiful Oregon colors that border its edge. The 13-acre park features vibrant oranges, radiant reds, and shades of gold. Take a brisk walk around the park on a crisp, cool day and enjoy the changing leaves in all their brilliant shades.
If you want a little help predicting the best time to visit or explore Oregon’s fall foliage, check out this fall foliage map. It shows you the best days to view the changing Oregon colors. For instance, depending on where you’re located or which specific area you are planning to visit, October 19 is likely a prime weekend for exploring the Pacific Northwest. At this point in time, most areas throughout the state will have reached their peak or near-peak stage in the changing of the leaves. By November 2, the state will be past its peak for fall foliage.
The link is also a great resource for understanding why leaves change color and the science behind it. If you’re planning to tour the area as part of a family trip, you can even download coloring sheets with different types of leaves for the kids. This educational tool will help both you and them recognize the types of leaves you’re seeing on your travels.
Albert Camus said, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” Enjoy the fall-time bloom of leaves and the brilliant Oregon colors when you visit any one of these picturesque settings on your journey to finding the best fall colors.