The Pacific Northwest is known for its beauty, and the displays of Oregon fall foliage are certainly photo-worthy! Whether you’re new to Beaver State or you’re a long-time resident, this is the comprehensive list of places where you can see the best leaf colors this fall.
Keep reading to see where to go in your part of Oregon for the best autumn leaf viewing.
A Brilliant Display of Fall Color
Mid-October is when Oregon’s fall color is at its finest. Northern Oregon puts on a colorful display first, then the south, with the coastal region being the last to reach its peak.
The colors of Oregon’s fall foliage come from a mix of deciduous tree species and some rare color-changing conifers. The color palette and the trees that create it are as follows:
- Red/scarlet/burgundy: red alder, Pacific dogwood, vine maple, Western dogwood
- Yellow/gold: bigleaf maple, cascara, quaking aspen, western larch (a color-changing conifer), cottonwood, green ash, paper birch, horse chestnut, black walnut, magnolia
- Bronze/copper/orange/brown: white oak, dawn redwoods (another conifer that changes color in the fall)
- Light red to deep purple: white ash
Japanese maples are popular trees used in Pacific Northwest urban landscaping, and these stunning trees run the entire color spectrum of fall color, depending on the specific variety.
There are a lot of places to recommend for viewing gorgeous fall foliage in Oregon, so let’s get to it!
Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood is the first spot where you’ll see fall color in Oregon. If you want an early start to your fall season, it’s the place to be. The Mount Hood Scenic Loop is 146 miles of Instagram-worthy photo ops of Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge, and orchards scattered throughout the valleys along the Mount Hood River.
Inside Mount Hood National Forest, you’ll want to check out Hunchback Trail #793 – a steep, challenging hike with a glorious view as the reward for your effort. Lolo Pass Road will dazzle you with the colors of vibrant vine maples, and Trillium Lake is not to be missed, with reflections of trees lining its shore.
Visit the Clackamas River to see the banks lined with bright red, orange, and yellow leaves. Parks that grant you easy access to the Clackamas River are Milo McIver State Park, Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area, Barton Park, Carver Park, High Rocks Park, and Cross Park.
Finally, travel the 35-mile Hood River Fruit Loop, where you can stop to support local orchards, farms, vineyards, and wineries while enjoying views of Oregon’s fall foliage.
With close to 300 city parks, there’s no shortage of places to admire fall foliage in Portland. Some of the most popular city parks for fall color are Washington Park, Cathedral Park (located beneath the iconic St. John’s Bridge), Mount Tabor Park, and Laurelhurst Park.
At 5,200 acres, Portland’s largest park is Forest Park, where you feel like you’re far from the city as you walk along 80 miles of trails. To see the best color, walk the popular Maple Trail Loop.
In southeast Portland, you’ll find the 163-acre Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, with easy trails for walking and biking while admiring the colorful trees.
For fall foliage viewing while sightseeing or going about business downtown, take a stroll through historic Old Town. Be sure to cross Naito Parkway to the Willamette River waterfront, where the cherry trees put on two displays each year in Portland – showy pink blossoms in the spring and colorful leaves in the fall.
Elsewhere in the city, the Ladd’s Addition neighborhood, with its streets arranged in geometric diagonals, historic architecture, and American elms, is one of Portland’s crown jewels in the fall. And we’d be remiss not to mention the tree-lined streets and parks of the Sellwood-Moreland and Eastmoreland neighborhoods to see dazzling displays of Oregon’s fall color.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
In Corbett, visit the Crown Point Vista House for its panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Continue east to Multnomah Falls, one of Oregon’s best-known year-round attractions – in the fall, the colorful leaves and the 620-foot waterfall create an especially striking nature tableau.
Even farther east will bring you to Cascade Locks, a departure point for the George Sternwheeler Columbia River cruise (yes, cruises are running again!) to take in the sights of Oregon’s fall color from the water.
If you’re in the Salem area, you’re in luck because there are plenty of spots for viewing spectacular Oregon fall foliage in the city and surrounding areas.
Inside the city, Minto-Brown Island Park is the first place to be mentioned. Its 1200 acres are a feast for the eyes when the leaves are at their peak. Next up is Bush’s Pasture Park, which contains 90 acres of fall color. For a more formal setting for your fall photos, visit the manicured grounds of Deepwood Museum and Gardens.
If day trip excursions for viewing fall foliage away from Salem are what you have in mind, then we’ve got some great places to recommend!
First up is Silver Falls State Park. There are 35 miles of trails offering views of waterfalls and the red and yellow color from the heavy population of red alders and vine maples. The Trail of Ten Falls is the best hike for experiencing Oregon fall foliage.
You’ll also want to know about the Oregon Garden in Silverton, where you can walk among nearly 20 specialty gardens in this 80-acre botanical garden. The Oregon Garden’s Holiday Bazaar makes it a great winter holiday destination in December.
Turning our attention to the northeastern part of the state, Baker City is where you’ll find some of Oregon’s best displays of fall foliage. Located near the Blue Mountains and filled with historic Victorian architecture, Baker City is all about small-town fall enjoyment.
Head to the nearby Elkhorn Mountains to see stands of yellow-colored western larch (one of those rare color-changing conifers mentioned earlier). If you’re up for a road trip, take the 106-mile Elkhorn Scenic Byway – a winding loop that starts and ends in Baker City. You’ll meander through Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, where you’ll find the prettiest fall foliage along the route.
To the north of Baker City, you can drive along the Blue Mountain Forest State Scenic Corridor to see fall color that lasts until the first autumn frost hits.
Located in central Oregon, you’ll find beautiful fall scenes both in and near the city of Bend.
Visit Drake Park and Mirror Pond to see the surrounding red maples and yellow willows reflected on the water. Stroll along the half-mile of the riverfront or walk through the open fields in the park. If you’d like a longer walk or a bike ride, the 12-mile Deschutes River Trail runs along both sides of the Deschutes River.
For more of a wilderness fall experience, head to nearby Deschutes National Forest to seek out Dillon Falls and the Aspen Day Use Area. The popular, moderately challenging hike along the Tumalo Creek Trail offers views of seasonal leaf color and the 97-foot-high Tumalo Falls.
If you live in or near Eugene, there are plenty of places to feast your eyes on Oregon’s fall color. Start with a trip to the Mount Pisgah Arboretum and wander its 200 acres. For anyone needing wheelchair-accessible trails, the Ruth Bascom Riverbank Path takes you through a protected wildlife area and around Delta Ponds. Or spend some time on the campus grounds of the University of Oregon.
In the surrounding areas, visit Dorris Ranch in Springfield to walk through an old hazelnut orchard and along the river to Clearwater Park.
Near the California border, the town of Klamath Falls is filled with an autumn color palette provided by plentiful oak, red alder, bigleaf maple, and quaking aspen trees. The nearby Fremont-Winema National Forest doesn’t just offer photo ops of lovely fall leaf color – there are plenty of migrating birds to see as well.
Special Interest Fall Foliage Trips
Here are a few ideas for combining your fall leaf viewing with other fun outdoor activities.
Smith Rock State Park
If you’re a rock climber, then Smith Rock State Park needs to be on your list of Oregon fall foliage locations! Known for having more than 2,000 climbs in the park, the park provides a unique way to experience the beauty of autumn.
Coast Range Falls
If there’s no such thing as “too many” waterfalls for you, then you have to check out the coast range falls in the western part of the state. Not only do these locations provide ideal fall leaf-peeping, but you’ll also see some of the less-visited waterfalls, such as Alsea Falls, Sweet Creek Falls, Kentucky Falls, and Loon Lake Falls.
In case you wondered, Oregon is #2 for states with the most waterfalls – Washington is #1.
Covered Bridge Routes
If covered bridges automatically make you think of New England, you’ll be pleased to learn Oregon is home to 50 historic covered bridges. Most of them are located in the western part of the state, and there are several online sources with maps plotting the locations so you can plan a covered bridge tour as part of your fall bucket list.
One of the easiest bridges to access is the Neal Lane Scenic Bridge, located just off I-5 in Myrtle Creek. If you’re up for more of an adventure, Highway 126, west of Eugene, is dotted with covered bridges popping up among muted purple and warm yellow leaves. You’re sure to take some fantastic photos at stops along the way!
Where Will You Go to See Oregon Fall Foliage?
As many places as we listed in this article, some couldn’t be included (this year, anyway). But there will undoubtedly be several places for viewing magnificent Oregon fall foliage near you if traveling isn’t on your fall itinerary.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Bree is a wife, mom to a silly pitbull, and a writer for Minneopa Orchards. She lives in Oregon where she works as a freelancer and spends her free time cooking or crafting.
She began gardening when she became a homeowner — whenever she moved into a new home, a garden was one of her first priorities. She enjoyed creating beautiful outdoor spaces in whatever growing zone she lived in and says her southwest gardens were the most challenging!
Bree currently lives in a downtown urban setting, so she’s making good use of indoor gardening methods. Writing for Minneopa Orchards also inspires her to experiment in the kitchen with fresh herbs and seasonal produce. Infused oils, fruit syrups, and dried fruits are some of her recent successes.