Fall is a season of transitions for just about everyone and everything, including hiking.
Gone are the crowds and the heat and the bugs of summer, but also missing are the extra hours of daylight, the dry weather and the t-shirt temperatures. Even so, autumn hikes in Oregon can be spectacular. Just remember: bring an extra layer or two, don’t forget your rain gear and make sure to check the forecast before you head out — especially on any hikes that expose you to lots of open sky or elevations where snow might be falling already.
For a great fall hike, check out these options from all around Oregon.
Portland, Mount Hood and the Gorge
Old Salmon River
Length: 4.2 miles roundtrip
Vine maples burst with scarlet brilliance along this pleasant trail, which unfolds through old-growth cedars along the Salmon River. It’s a year-round hike, so you probably won’t have to worry about early snows here.
There are more than 12 miles of trails to link together at this nearly 190-acre tree sanctuary on Portland’s west side — and more than 2,000 different species of trees to take in, including many with brilliant fall foliage.
Length: 4 miles roundtrip to Punchbowl Falls
Early fall rains will only enhance this classic hike, which winds through a thick Northwest forest of firs and dripping ferns. Another reason autumn is a great time for this one? Spawning salmon return here every year.
Length: About 8 miles roundtrip
Yellow aspen trees add a touch of color to this mild stroll, but it’s the waterfalls along the way and at the end that make it a fall favorite.
Length: Up to 11 miles roundtrip
This beauty of a wilderness is popular in the summer — for good reason — but in the fall crowds thin out and the wild feeling returns. Its scenic lakes views of Mount Jefferson are fairly high, so make sure you check the forecast in case there’s any snow on the way.
This treed park on Eugene’s east side is ideal for autumn hikes close to home. Head out on the 3.2-mile roundtrip trek to the summit for expansive views of the Cascades as they get their first snows of the season.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Several different trails wind their way through the trees and up to the open summit of this prominent butte, overlooking Eugene and the surrounding expanse. It’s a great option for rainy-day hikes since, if you live in the area, you’re not too far from home.
Length: 3 miles roundtrip
Several scenic options exist around this jaw-dropping expanse of coastline, including a 3-mile loop to Indian Beach or a 3-mile loop to an old World War II bunker. The coast gets fogged in and soupy as winter approaches, so hit this one sooner than later.