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Oregon Fall Colors- 12 Terrific Places to See Oregon Fall Foliage

Oregon Fall Colors- 12 Terrific Places to See Oregon Fall Foliage

Oregon and the rest of the Pacific Northwest may widely be known for a landscape filled with lush evergreen forests, but there are plenty of incredible Oregon fall colors to be found if you know where to look!

Oregon fall foliage can be admired all over the state. From the parks of Portland to riverbanks lined with changing trees to autumn color in Oregon’s high desert, this guide is sure to help youmake the most of your leaf peeping mission.

12 Destinations for Enjoying Oregon Fall Colors

1. Mount Hood

Mount Hood is a nice place to enjoy early season fall color in Oregon

Given its elevation, Mount Hood is one of the first spots in Oregon to shows off its fall color. The Mount Hood Scenic Byway is an amazing drives to enjoy Oregon fall colors.

Nearby, Lolo Pass Road is another nice option. The route is known for its colorful vine maples.

If you are looking for a great fall hike, check out the Hunchback Trail #793 in Mount Hood National Forest. The maples pop against the green of the evergreen forest. This trail is very steep and climbs 2,000 feet in 1.9 miles, but the scenery is worthy of this workout.

The Clackamas River cuts through the Mount Hood and is another great places to see fall foliage. Deciduous trees hug the banks of the river, creating a wonderful display of yellow, oranges, and reds in the autumn.

2. Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail

HIstoric Columbia River HIghway is lovely in the fall

The drive on the Historic Columbia River Highway is absolutely stunning at any time of year, thanks to the numerous waterfalls and the sweeping views of the Columbia River. But come fall when the leaves turn, this scenic drive really shows off.

Plan your visit for late September through mid-October and marvel at the spectacle created as big leaf maples, cottonwood, and Oregon ash change colors.

The Cape Horn Loop Trail is a good option for stretching your legs while enjoying the colors of fall. You will pass through a dense vine maple thicket, hillsides with maple and alder, and by Cape Horn Falls along the way.

You might also want to consider getting out on the water and enjoying the scenery on a Columbia River cruise. There are multi-day options or you can take a one- or two-hour cruise originating from Cascade Locks.

3. Find Oregon Fall Colors in Salem

Minto Brown Island Park in Salem is a nice spot to enjoy fall foliage
Minto Island, Photo via Flickr/BushmanK

Minto Brown Island Park offers families plenty to do while enjoying the Oregon fall foliage. The park is the largest in Salem, with 1200 acres to explore. There are lots of open areas and trails for hiking, walking, biking, and rollerblading. There is also play equipment for your kids to enjoy.

At Bush’s Pasture Park you can admire fall foliage, play in one (or all) of the four play areas, or explore the 90 acres of parklands that have meandering walking paths. If you are looking for a spot to take great family photos, check out the formal gardens at Deepwood Museum and Gardens.

College campuses are typically filled with trees and Willamette University, near the state capitol, is another nice place to enjoy the autumn color with the crunch of leaves underfoot.

4. See Autumn In Portland’s Washington Park

Oregon Fall Colors- 12 Terrific Places to See Oregon Fall Foliage 1
Photo via Flickr/Evan Lovely

The Hoyt Arboretum in Portland’s Washington Park is easily accessible from anywhere in the city, and features 12-miles of walking trails to explore 190 acres filled with trees and shrubs from all over the world. Come fall, there are plenty of different plants and trees to admire during their foliage change.

You also will want to make time to see the crimson and deep orange hues of the delicate leaves of the Japanese maples inside the Portland Japanese Garden. Their website offers regular fall color status updates during the peak season so you can time your visit perfectly.

Round out your time at Washington Park with some time at the Portland Zoo or the World Forestry Center to make a day of it! Both made our list of the best things to do in Portland with kids.

5. Celebrate the Harvest and Foliage on the Hood River Fruit Loop

Hood River Fruit Loop

The Hood River Fruit Loop is a 35-mile scenic drive through forests, orchards, and farmland, resulting in the perfect road trip to celebrate the harvest season.

On many occasions during the year, including in October, there are events where you can stop at farms to see the animals, or sample the local fruit and wine. And in the fall, there’s beautiful foliage to go along with everything else!

There are u-pick farms where you can pick local peaches and pears, farms stands with treats like pie and milkshakes made with local fruit, and ciders (non-alcoholic and hard) and wines ready to be tasted.

6. Upper Klamath Canoe Trail near Klamath Falls

Upper Klamath Canoe Trail

Take to the water in Southern Oregon on the Upper Klamath Canoe Trail. This is a 9.5-mile marked trail that you access by canoe, giving you the opportunity to enjoy views of marsh, open lake, and forest while paddling the waters near Klamath Falls.

In the fall, paddling the waters is a good way to see the foliage onshore in a unique and peaceful setting.

Fremont-Winema National Forest is also in this neck of the woods and is home to the rare Oregon quaking aspen. The aspens turn a brilliant yellow late September through mid October.

Places to view the aspens inside the national forest include Rocky Point, Mount McLoughlin, and the southern Warner Mountains.

7. Pittock Mansion in Portland

Pittock Mansionin the Autumn

Pittock Mansion is a gorgeous building located in the West Hills above Portland. It was built in 1914 by the Oregonian newspaper publisher, Henry Pittock. This 46-room mansion sits on 46 acres and is now owned by the city’s Parks and Recreation bureau.

Tour the house and enjoy the beautiful trees surrounding the house as well as the spectacular views of downtown Portland during autumn.

8. Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon

Lithia Park in Ashland, Oregon

The Southern Oregon city of Ashland is well-known for its Shakespeare Festival in the summer but come fall, this pretty town has some red, yellows, and oranges to join the abundant green.

Lithia Park is the ideal place for families seeking Oregon fall colors to visit while in town. There is a Japanese garden, two duck ponds, a sycamore grove, and the woodlands along Ashland Creek to enjoy.

Make time to enjoy the playground and sports courts and fields while you take in the autumn scenery.

9. Silver Falls State Park

Silver falls State Park in Oregon during the fall

Silver Falls State Park is one of my favorite Oregon fall foliage destinations because of its 7-mile, Trail of Ten Waterfalls. Autumn is the perfect time to hike this waterfall-filled trail because the Oregon fall colors really add to the already photogenic scenery.

This wonderful park is located 20 miles east of Salem. It is the largest and most popular park in the Oregon State Parks system.

10. Steens Mountain

Oregon Fall Colors- 12 Terrific Places to See Oregon Fall Foliage 2
Lily Lake Campground, Photo via BLM Oregon

You can still find fall color in Oregon’s high desert– simply head higher in elevation! Just remember that autumn comes earlier in the higher altitudes, and leaves typically turn colors in mid to late September.

There is is great autumn foliage on the Steens Mountain Loop in southeastern Oregon. There are aspens in the Fish Lake and Lily Lake areas as well as by the Jackman Park Campground. If you want to enjoy the golden aspens from above, check out the Kiger Gorge Overlook off Steens Mountain Loop Road.

11. Elkhorn Scenic Byway

Oregon Fall Colors- 12 Terrific Places to See Oregon Fall Foliage 3

Another high desert hot spot for fall foliage is the Elkhorn Scenic Byway near Baker City. The tree to see in this area is the rare western larch, one of the only coniferous trees to change colors in the autumn.

The Elkhorn Scenic Byway is a 106-mile loop that winds through the Elkhorn Mountains, a nice place to hiking, camp, and enjoy the views. The best color is found in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in places like Phillips Lake.

The Sumpter Valley Railroad is also in the area and hosts special fall colors train rides in October.

12. Deschutes River Trail

Deschutes River Fall Color in Oregon
Photo via Flickr/Peter Marquess

Bend is a year-round destination for lovers of the outdoors. During the fall, those looking to be active will want to head to the Dechutes River Trail and hike or mountain bike among the trees.

If it is Oregon fall colors that you crave (and of course you do, you are reading this article!), check out the area near Dillon Falls where there are large aspen groves. The aptly-named Aspen Day Use area is another great place to enjoy the turning leaves along the river.

Find more Fall Color. Here are great places to spot fall foliage: