Oregon fall colors are some of the most beautiful in the world. While the changing leaves season is more fleeting than east coast fall colors, it makes the views all the more special since the window of opportunity is shorter. Here are some of the best fall hikes in Oregon and spots to view epic fall colors, along with where to stay to make it a weekend getaway!
Best Hikes for Oregon Fall Colors
Here are some beautiful fall hikes in Oregon for fall colors and views, before winter comes. From maple trees to oak, dogwood, birch, alder, and the rare aspens.
1. Clear Lake
Clear Lake off the McKensie River Highway (the Linn County Clear Lake, not the Mt Hood Clear Lake) is a gorgeous spot for fall colors. The vibrant water color of Clear Lake as a backdrop, makes the colors of the changing leaves really pop. You can kayak on Clear Lake or hike around the lake on the Clear Lake Trail on the west side of the lake or the McKensie River Trail through the east side. Clear Lake Resort also offers rowboat rentals.
2. McKensie River Trail
The McKensie River Trail has some of the most jaw-dropping fall colors and scenery around. With the rushing McKensie River, several waterfalls, and tons of great hikes, the McKensie River Trail is one of my favorite fall spots in Oregon. And you don’t have to hike all 24 miles of the MRT to enjoy the fall colors! An hour east of Eugene, the McKensie River trail parallels the McKensie River from McKensie Bridge to just south of Santiam Junction. And with some of the best waterfall hikes near Bend, this area is hard to beat. The best month for seeing fall colors at Clear Lake is October.
3. Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge and Historic Columbia River Highway is one of our favorite Portland drives and day trips and a gorgeous spot to see fall colors on all the winding roads. Stop at a waterfall for a hike, continue on to Hood River to a brewery and lunch. Or make an extended day of it and take 35 through Parkdale around Mt Hood for apple picking! Sugar Pine Drive-in on the Sandy River is another of our favorite fall spots.
Stay: Best Western Cascade Locks, The Society Hotel Bingen (on the Washington side), McMenamins Edgefield (Troutdale is the gateway to the gorge)
Hike: Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena Loop, more Waterfall hikes
4. Willamette Valley Wine Country
Oregon’s wine country in the Willamette Valley is another beautiful spot for fall colors. Does it count as hiking if you’re walking around a vineyard? Head to Amity’s Keeler Estate for colorful leaves, some trails, and of course, wine!
5. Portland Parks & Neighborhoods
Portland will always be one of my favorite places to see fall colors. And Portland’s viewpoints from parks are full of gorgeous trees and leaves. From Cathedral Park under the St John’s bridge, to the Laurelhurst neighborhood, to Hoyt Arboretum and Forest Park, Washington Park and the Children’s Arboretum – there are endless spots in Portland to see fall colors. And you just can’t beat the mix of colors in a pile of leaves on a fall walk downtown.
Stay: McMenamin’s Kennedy School, Ace Hotel, more cool Portland hotels
Hike: Maple Trail Wildwood Loop in Forest Park, or Ridge Trail (with views of St John’s bridge!), Pittock Mansion from Hoyt Arboretum, plus more great Portland hikes.
6. Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park, east of Salem, is another top spot for fall colors. The contrast of colors mixed with cascading waterfalls in fall make it hard to take a bad picture here! Silver Falls is also one of the best waterfall hikes near Portland.
The Eugene area, in the valley, is another favorite fall colors stop. From the Oakridge area to the University of Oregon campus, Cottage Grove, and Willamette River – the Eugene area is packed with beautiful deciduous trees for fall colors. And this area also just might have the most covered bridges in Oregon!
While we often think of evergreen trees, when we think of Central Oregon, Bend has some great spots for fall colors. One of the most beautiful spots is Drake Park on Mirror Pond. This is where you’ll find endless family photo shoots and senior pictures in session each fall. Another more active spot for fall colors is on the Deschutes River Trail. From a shorter loop through Old Mill, Drake Park, or all the way through to Dillon Falls, and Benham Falls. You’ll find beautiful fall colors and views. Remember that fall colors often come a bit later in Central and Southern Oregon than in the upper Willamette Valley.
9. Black Butte & Metolius River area
The area around Blue Butte, Metolius River Preserve, Camp Sherman, Suttle Lake, and Black Butte Ranch has some stunning fall colors. Located between the Santiam Pass and Sisters, Oregon – this area has tons of recreation options and places to stay. Black Butte Ranch also has a few small groves of aspen trees. And stop in for lunch at the Camp Sherman Store.
10. Steens Mountain
The Steens Mountain in SE Oregon is another spot for fall colors, that is a bit further afield, for most. Combine it with a trip to the Alvord Desert and hot springs. There are plenty of hiking opportunities in this area and one of the few spots in Oregon to see aspen trees. (Fremont-Winema National Forest in Southern Oregon is also known for aspens and is near Summer Lake Hot Springs).
11. Blue Mountains & the La Grande area
The La Grande area in Eastern Oregon is full of fall colors. From the campus of Eastern Oregon University, to the gateway to the Blue Mountains: Wallowas, Umatilla National Forest, and Elkhorn Mountains and Elkhorn Scenic Byway toward Baker City. You’re never far from fall colors here. The Blue Mountains range that runs vertically through eastern Oregon include the Wallowas and Elkhorn. (Another Eastern Oregon spot for fall colors is the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Snake River and border of Idaho.)
12. Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway
The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway runs between Roseburg and the Grants Pass/Medford area. A pretty good hint that a road will be great for views is in the name “scenic byway” right?! And this scenic byway is no exception. Travel Oregon has a wonderful guide to the byway. And the Rogue River toward the coast is also full of fall color views.
13. Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon
Ashland is one southern Oregon’s most charming towns. And Lithia Park is at the center of Ashland’s fall colors. Right along Ashland Creek, there is an easy two mile loop through the park.
14: Oregon Coast Range
Any highway that takes you through the coast range is going to be full of fall colors in October and November. Whether you’re taking Hwy 30 to Astoria, Hwy 26 to Seaside and Cannon Beach, Hwy 6 to Tillamook, 18 and 22 to Pacific City, Hwy 20 to Newport and Yachats, or 126 to Florence. The coast range of mountains serves up glorious fall colors and twisty windy roads.
Want more ideas for off the beaten path fall color hikes? Just search for “fall colors”, “fall foliage”, “fall leaves” etc. on Google Maps search, Instagram search or hashtags (and then look at the location tags), or AllTrails or Oregon Hikers.
14 Best fall hikes in Oregon
In summary, here are some of the best fall hikes in Oregon. Plus, a map of hikes and trailheads.
- Clear Lake
- McKensie River Trail
- Columbia River Gorge
- Willamette Valley Wine Country
- Portland, Oregon
- Silver Falls State Park
- Eugene, Oregon
- Bend, Oregon
- Black Butte & Metolius River
- Steens Mountain
- Blue Mountains
- Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway
- Lithia Park, Ashland, Oregon
- Oregon Coast Range
Happy fall foliage hiking!