Even as I write this, kids all over Oregon are digging into piles of fallen leaves, throwing them about, and delighting in the change of the season. Why should dogs be any different? Besides, it just SMELLS GOOD right now, particularly to the canine snout –great sniffer of all things stinky and wet.

Pippin and I recently partook of scattered leaves and breezy thoughts with a hike to King-Castle Trail (Forest Service Roads #4326 and #3506). The leaves are practically the size of turkey platters on the McKenzie River Highway right now, exploding on the landscape in a profusion of red, gold, brown, and bright screaming yellow.

The trailhead to this upward hike is just across the bridge at Rainbow, a few miles off Highway #126 at McKenzie Bridge. That puts it about 1.5 hours from Central Oregon and one hour from Eugene. Well worth a weekend jaunt.

A creek runs from top to bottom of this hike, so dogs have several opportunities to splash about and sate their thirst.  Then it’s onward and upward (11 miles one way) to the summit. If you’ve got the time and the spunk, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the McKenzie River Valley.

When it’s time to sate your own thirst, head to the Farmhouse Dining Room at the Holiday Farm Resort. Or just pop in for a quick refresher at their bar. The Holiday Farm Resort cabins, as well as the McKenzie Riverside Cottages have pet-friendly lodging available, too – smack dab on one of the most beautiful rivers in Oregon – especially this time of year. Tell them their fans – and Pip – at Oregon Lakes & Rivers sent you!

Pippin’s rules to live by: Play often, sniff everything, and expect something good to happen.

Kyla Merwin Cheney publishes Oregon Lakes & Rivers – the website, Road Tripper E-Report, and online magazine. www.oregonlakesandrivers.com

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