Fall is one of the best times to get out and enjoy all the wonder and beauty that Oregon and Southwest Washington have to offer. Whether it’s the changing of the leaves into yellows and reds or the return of the rains making the waterfalls full again, autumn is prime hiking season in the Pacific Northwest. Here are some fall favorites to get you out and enjoying those ever-shortening days.
Falls Creek Falls
This is great hike for the entire family, and is usually open year round. This breathtaking trail along Washington’s Falls Creek offers spectacular viewpoints of the creek canyon, wonderful colorful foliage, all ending in a fabulous visa of the falls themselves. The falls drop almost 250 foot down, cascading into a very photogenic moss-covered pool. Originally created in 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, this trail is very popular on nice weekends, so plan accordingly. Find out more through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.
Silver Falls State Park
Offering ten waterfalls over its nearly 9 miles on Silver Creek, this National Recreation Trail located east of Salem, Oregon, offers great fall colors with maples and other deciduous tress turning bright shades of orange and red. Though this hike only gains a moderate 800 feet in elevation, it features tall fir trees with verdant ferns underneath and enough waterfalls to keep any hiker happy. With waterfalls ranging in height from 27 to 178 feet, and with four that you can even walk behind; this trek is worth taking a day for. Find out more through Oregon State Parks.
Waldo Lake Trail
Waldo Lake is Oregon’s second largest lake and offers views of the stunning view of nearby Diamond Peak and surrounding mountains. Nestled at 5400 feet in the Willamette National Forest, this hike is one you won’t soon forget. Also known as one of the cleanest lakes in the world, this five mile trail has some dynamite views of the lake, its rocky islands, and the if you’re feeling adventurous, some options to see The Three Sisters, Mount Bachelor and Three Fingered Jack. A self-issued permit, available at the trailhead, is required for day and overnight hikes. Find out more through the Willamette National Forest.
Mt. Pisgah Arboretum
Located south of Eugene, Oregon this 209-acre sanctuary and arboretum is super easy to get to as it’s close to I-5. Mt. Pisgah has seven miles of fairly easy trails and 23 bridges from which to see wildlife, fall colors, and varying local ecosystems. This “tree museum” also offers water gardens, evergreen forests, meadows, and of course, many trees turning the myriad shades of autumn. They even have a festival celebrating mushrooms as well as workshops and talks like their Fall Fruits and Foliage Walk with a local botanist to educate yourself about how and why the trees change the way they do. Find out more at the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum website.
Eli Madrone is a writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He learned about fall hiking options while chatting about Portland Gum Disease Treatment at Portland Periodontics.