Oregon has a landscape best known for expansive coniferous forests, and not so much for its dazzling fall foliage. But parts of Oregon are surprisingly breathtaking in the fall when the alders, aspens, and maples come to vibrant life. So, where do you head to check out the fall foliage in Oregon? We’ve curated a guide of the best hikes for autumnal views all around the state.
1. Devil’s Rest
Forty minutes from the bustling urban landscape of Portland lies the incredible Columbia River Gorge: an oasis of stunning views, breathtaking waterfalls, and some of the most rewarding elevation hikes. One of these is Devil’s Rest.
Starting at the Wahkeena Trailhead, the path slowly gains 2350 feet of elevation to the peak of Devil’s Rest, where you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in the state. In the fall, the strenuous hike results in a view bursting with striking orange and red. Autumn turns the landscape of the gorge into a fairytale setting. If you hike it to catch the view at sunset, we guarantee it’ll be a sight you’ll remember forever.
Note: The Eagle Creek Fire in 2017 greatly affected this trail. Though new growth is coming in, you’ll still see firsthand the devastating effects of the forest fire.
Round trip: 8.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2350 feet
Near: Portland, Oregon
2. Grizzly Peak Loop
Grizzly Peak Loop is a unicorn hike. It’s one of those that gains elevation and offers breathtaking views without putting its hikers into cardiac arrest. The elevation gain of the trail is gradual, making it a family-friendly hike that still boasts a rewarding view at its conclusion.
In the fall, the lower valleys and deciduous forests seen from the peak are a splendid array of warm tones, and these painted trees extend into the distance as far as the eye can see.
Round trip: 5.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 839 feet
Near: Ashland, Oregon
3. Rogue River Trail
The Rogue River Trail is a forty-mile trail. At first, this might sound too indimidating to attempt, but the trail spans a great distance and has many points of entry. Pick a starting point and an ending point: any stretch of the trail will have much to offer, from canyon views to rushing river access to deciduous canopies that shimmer with orange and yellow hues in the autumn air.
Trip: 40.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 4875 feet
Near: Medford, Oregon
4. Kentucky Falls Hike
Even during the heat of the summer, Kentucky Falls is a winning hike, but when the vine maples turn to yellow and orange, the view of the falls is nothing short of breathtaking. The four-mile round trip can be steep in some areas, but the view of the cascading waterfall among gleams of fall foliage is so worth the trek.
The hike remains relatively unknown, which is good in the sense that you’ll be one of the only ones on its path. This is also a downside, as the trail is rarely maintained – but from our point of view, coming across a fallen tree in your path only adds to the adventure.
Round trip: 3.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 987 feet
Near: Eugene, Oregon
5. Deschutes River Trail
Meet Oregon’s quintessential fall hike. The Deschutes River Trail explodes with colorful warmth in the year’s later months: the aspens turn to gold and the low-lying shrubs change into all shades of red and magenta. It’s one of Oregon’s most photogenic displays of fall colors. The trail alternates between paved and unpaved and spans twelve miles.
A variety of geological formations, canyons, and rock statues dot its length and you can even come back and break this trail up into a multi-day adventure. It has several points of entry and every section of the trail is different and promises a different adventure.
Hungry for some more Bend-area hikes? If it hasn’t been completely snowed in yet, check out Broken Top for one of the most scenic views in the entire state.
Round trip: 24 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Near: Bend, Oregon
6. Opal Creek Trail
Red and gold leaves shimmering over a crystalline turquoise pool sounds like something out of a dream, but it is a stunning reality on the Opal Creek Trail. A popular trail in southern Oregon, Opal Creek Trail follows along a shimmering creek with startling clarity and offers multiple opportunities for you to cool off and jump into its refreshing waters.
This is one of our favorite hikes due to it being utterly photogenic. Want to make everyone jealous? Bring along a camera to capture some of the breathtaking fall scenery.
Round trip: 6.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 652 feet
Near: Lyons, Oregon
There are hundreds of other spectacular fall hikes to take in Oregon, and these are simply six of our absolute favorites. Let us know down in the comments below if you’ve got any that you particularly enjoy!