We love it when the Oregon’s lush green wonderland transforms into something even more spectacular each fall. The brilliant reds and golds and every shade between make for a dynamic backdrop to our drizzly skies, lush evergreens and ritual cider sipping.
But do you know where to catch the dramatic colors just as they’re starting to turn or reach their peak? Each September, a group of official “leaf peepers” begin their quest to help locals and visitors do just that.
From outposts around the state — Ashland to Bend to Baker City — these 20 to 30 leaf enthusiasts dispatch weekly reports to the Oregon Fall Foliage Blog, which started back in 2001 way before leaf peeping grew to the phenomenon it is now.
Visitors can look to the Oregon Fall Foliage Blog this season for updates that will be posted each Friday, compiling photos and tips from the leaf peepers on what’s popping around the state that week. There will also be roadtrip ideas based on what’s in peak, like a trip from Hood River to Portland, or Portland to Eugene.
So what are the hot spots around the state? Some favorites include:
- Any of Oregon’s Scenic Byways
- Central Oregon: Metolius River, Deschutes River Trail, McKenzie River
- Eastern Oregon: Anthony Lakes, Baker City, the Wallowa Mountains
- Greater Portland: Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, Mt. Tabor
- Hood/Gorge: Mt. Hood National Forest, Crown Point, Waterfall Alley, Bonneville Dam
- Southern Oregon: Lithia Park in Ashland, Mt. Ashland, Stewart Park in Roseburg
- Oregon Coast: Astoria, Cape Perpetua Scenic Area, Tillamook Forest Center
- Willamette Valley: Highway 18 on the way to the Coast, covered bridges, Willamette National Forest
This year is already shaping up to be a better season than last for fall color, Hoshaw says: “Last year was tough with the droughts and wildfire season. This year should be a little more full. It’s been hot but more balanced with temperate days. The problem is when you start to see extreme temperatures, because it dries out a lot of trees and tends to make leaves fall off early. Then we won’t see color change.”
Oregon’s colors come because of the warmer temperatures followed by the “nice crispy quick switch,” Hoshaw adds, which tends to preserve the color. He expects most spots statewide to reach their peak color by mid-October, a few weeks earlier than last year. So hit the your favorite trail, park or waterfall — or a new one — and drink it all in.
Leaf peeping “is helping folks learn more about the state,” Hoshaw says. “This is a cool way to get across different regions. Our state is super diverse.”
What kind of fall color are you seeing around Oregon? Send in your snaps and observations, using #ORfallfoliage on Instagram and Twitter, and connect with Oregon Fall Foliage on Facebook.