Beautiful Colors Mark Fall in Oregon

Every season in Oregon brings its own special scenery, from the snowy Cascade mountain peaks of wintertime to the explosion of colorful wildflowers in the late spring. But with its perfect temperatures, crisp blue skies and golden and red leaves, if you’re looking for the best time of year to get out and enjoy the outdoors, autumn in Oregon is hard to beat. Read on for your guide to fall’s leaf-peeping hot spots across the state.

Oregon Coast
Take a drive along the beautiful Oregon Coast on Highway 101, one of the first National Scenic Byways. Not only will you be able to take in the coast’s historic lighthouses, quaint beach towns and spectacular Pacific Ocean views, but the fall colors along the way are a sight to see as well. Highlights: Yellow alder leaves contrast with the orange of the maples and reds of the dogwoods along Highway 126, which connects Eugene to the coast. The Sunset and Wilson River highways (26, 6 and 101) offer a scenic loop from Portland to Oregon’s northern beaches and back through the rolling Coast Range, dressed for autumn in green, red and gold.

Willamette Valley
With easy-to-navigate access along Interstate 5, or the leisurely, scenic routes of Highways 99E and 99W, leaf seekers will find endless opportunities for foliage sighting. Side roads leading into the foothills on either side of I-5 reveal an autumn reminiscent of New England, complete with covered bridges, quaint country schools, churches and barns. Highlights: Follow one of the country’s most beautiful whitewater trout streams along the enchanting McKenzie River Highway (Highway 126) east from Eugene-Springfield through bright fall foliage to the McKenzie River’s source at Clear Lake, a great spot for fishing, picnicking and hiking. A side trip along Highway 242 winds over McKenzie Pass in the high Cascades until winter snows close the route.

Mt. Hood/Columbia River Gorge
Ski, hike, windsurf and wander Mt. Hood and its fertile foothills. This diverse region is one of the largest fruit producers in Oregon, making for an abundant fall harvest. In one afternoon, travel from Oregon’s highest peak to the majestic Columbia River Gorge. Highlights: Follow the Mt. Hood Scenic Byway around the base of Oregon’s highest peak (11,235 ft/ 3,424m), and traverse timbered slopes, temperate rain forests, semi-arid uplands, and mountain meadows. The route descends through the farm land and orchards of the Hood River Valley to the magnificent, Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway, where visitors can see 11 waterfalls in an 11-mile section. Completing the loop back to Portland is an easy day’s drive.

Southern Oregon
Southern Oregon encompasses the Southern Cascades leading up to Diamond Lake and Crater Lake along the Umpua and Rogue Rivers, meeting the Siskiyou Mountains at the California border. The Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway is home to 15 waterfalls, and the Siskiyous are heavily forested and dappled with small farms. Try Highways 138, 230, 234, 62, or 199 for an escape into this captivating corner of Oregon. Highlights: Travel to the Klamath Basin (Highways 97, 66) to see endless aspen groves and the state’s largest body of water, Klamath Lake, which is a resting spot for some 7 million migratory waterfowl from the peculiar pelican to the snow goose.

Central Oregon
The high desert of Central Oregon offers a unique experience for fall foliage seekers. With 300 days of sunshine a year, ancient lava flows, snowy Cascade Mountains, and over 150 rivers and lakes, don’t miss an escape into this pristine landscape. Highlights: In the heart of Central Oregon, take a stroll through Bend’s beautiful Drake Park. Also, see the amazing shade of crimson of the Burning Bush, just changing colors in Bend’s Old Mill District. Hike or bike the Deschutes River Trail near Dillon Falls trailhead to see Central Oregon’s full range of colors.

Information courtesy of Travel Lane County. For more information about Oregon’s fall foliage, visit the Oregon Fall Foliage blog at, follow them on Twitter at @ORFallFoliage or call the Travel Lane County Fall Foliage Hotline at 800-547-5445.

Here are some of the best Central Oregon hikes this fall and all year round.

Shevlin Park
Shevlin Park offers a wooded oasis just a couple minutes outside town. Enjoy watching the Tumalo Creek flow by as you stroll through the towering pines. The aspen leaves usher in autumn with a brilliant golden color. To get there, take Newport Avenue and follow it until it turns into Shevlin Park Road, then turn left at the park.

Upper Deschutes River Trail
The Deschutes River is one of the jewels of Central Oregon recreation, and there are miles of scenic hikes along the water. Access one of these trails at the Meadow Camp picnic area off Century Drive, where you’ll turn left just before Widgi Creek golf course. From Meadow Camp to Benham Falls, there’s an 8.5-mile scenic hike.

Tumalo Falls
One of Central Oregon’s most photographed water features is Tumalo Falls. As the seasons change, the trees all around the waterfall offer up a colorful autumn palette, and the attraction makes an easy hike whether you just want to see the falls or you’re up for the four-mile journey along Tumalo Creek to Happy Valley. From downtown Bend, take Franklin Avenue past Drake Park, and take a right onto Galveston Ave. Drive about 10 miles on Galveston (which turns into Skyliners Road), and turn left onto Road 4603 after you cross Tumalo Creek.

Green Lakes Trail
The Green Lakes Trail offers spectacular views of the rapids of Fall Creek, and its canopy of shady trees makes it a popular hike during the heat of summer. But in the fall, the variety of plant life creates a spectrum of gold and red leaves to mix in with the evergreens. If you’d like, you can hike anywhere from 4.5 miles to the first lake on the trail, or hike about 3 more to see all the lakes, then double back to the road for a full day of hiking. To access the trail, drive up the Cascade Lakes Highway past Mt. Bachelor, Todd Lake and Sparks Lake, and watch for the Green Lakes trailhead sign. Cascade Lakes highway usually closes sometime in November.

Metolius River Trail
Metolius River is known for its ample fishing and for its amazingly crystal-clear blue waters. The trail starts near Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery in Camp Sherman, located at 7500 Forest Service Road 14 about 10 miles from Highway 20 past Sisters. It’s an easy 2.5-mile hike to the Canyon Creek Campground.

My First Flight
Tandem Paragliding in Central Oregon


I woke up early on Saturday, July 24 to see Bend’s famous “lawn-chair balloon” aviator launch for his latest airborne journey. The morning offered clear blue skies, perfect for a flight. As the crowd counted down to the launch and Kent Couch gracefully lifted off, little did I know that by the end of the day, I would have had my own experience soaring high above the earth.

As I walked my dog on the Deschutes River Trail later that morning, I finally got the call I’d been anticipating for several months. It was Steve Roti, a member of the High Desert Air Riders, a group of Central Oregonians who’ve adopted paragliding as their hobby. He said the weather forecast was perfect for the evening, if I was still interested in taking a tandem flight. My answer? Absolutely.

True to its reputation as a haven for outdoor recreation of all kinds, Central Oregon has become a popular location for paragliding. Unlike hang gliding, which utilizes a rigid-frame glider, paragliding uses a parachute-like structure that glides on rising air currents. The sport started as we know it today in mountainous areas of the United States and Europe in the late 1970s, according to the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

Gliders climb to a high point of a mountain, strap themselves into their gliding harnesses and simply step off the slope, floating into the air and controlling themselves with lines that make the wing rise or descend. Much more common in Europe, the sport is still catching on in the United States, but with its plentiful launch sites and gorgeous scenery, Oregon has become a popular destination for paragliding. So at last, it looked like I would finally take to the skies! I’d wanted to try paragliding ever since my husband got to take a tandem flight with Steve nearly a year ago. Steve was kind enough to offer to take me as well, but my first two attempts were grounded because of bad weather.

I was hoping the third time would be the charm as we drove out past Millican to Pine Mountain, the launch site. Any nervousness I might have had about flying was abated by the fact that I’d actually tried to do it twice before, so I was familiar with much of the process. Plus, Steve’s knowledge and experience definitely put me at ease. The first step in the flight was to strap on my “flight gear” and hike about a third of the way up the mountain, where Steve then helped me put on my harness. Despite the July heat, I wore long pants, gloves and a jacket so that I would be comfortable in the cool air of the upper atmosphere. In a tandem flight, the experienced pilot rides in the back while the “passenger” rides up front.

Pilot and passenger must make sure they’re synchronized as they prepare for takeoff, and Steve reviewed the commands with me as we prepared for launch. The “ready” command signaled me to lean forward in a running stance; “pull” meant that the wing was going to start pulling us backwards, so we would need to run backwards with it a bit while leaning forward; and “run” meant that I was just a few steps away from experiencing the miracle of flight! So there we were, standing on the edge of Pine Mountain, ready for our flight. This was when I did start to get a little bit nervous. What if I stumble and fall during the lift-off? I’m not always known for my coordination, whether I’m falling off of a ski lift on my snowboard or I’m tripping over my own feet. And sure enough, in our first attempt, the strong wind pulled the wing to the side, and I tried to run backwards and sideways to keep up with the pull, but ended up falling down. But I blame that on the wind, not my clumsiness. Just seconds later, we made our second attempt and flawlessly drifted into the sky.

It was an indescribable feeling as my feet effortlessly left the ground and we began to soar! We drifted higher and higher on currents of air, making our way towards the summit of Pine Mountain. With a bird’s eye view, it felt like I could see forever, from the old-growth pine trees below us to the surrounding scrub brush of Eastern Oregon to the Cascade Mountains in the distance. It was an unforgettable way to experience the High Desert landscape, and although I brought my camera, I didn’t take many pictures, preferring instead to just “be in the moment” and take it all in. Before I knew it, Steve and I had become the highest gliders in the sky, as several others swirled beneath us on bright orange or red wings.

It was such a smooth ride, peaceful and serene; the purest form of flight that I can imagine. One of the only bumps I felt came when another glider drifted past us, and Steve explained that it was a “wake” in the air just like boats create in water. Though Steve was most definitely in control of the flight, he did let me take the reins for a few minutes. The wing can be turned with a simple tug on the lines on either side. It’s a three-step process: look around to make sure no other gliders are near you, lean over to the side you want to turn to, and give a smooth, gentle pull on the line. It was incredible to feel how easily I could maneuver us with just a little effort. After several moments spent floating high above Pine Mountain’s summit watching the other gliders and admiring the beauty of the landscape as the sun drifted behind the Cascades, painting the sky with a beautiful sunset, Steve said it was time to head in for our landing. Though I was treasuring every moment of the once-in-a-lifetime experience, I have to admit that my stomach was ready to be back on solid ground by that point, towards the end of our 40-minute flight.

Expertly navigating the rising and sinking air currents, Steve began to guide us gently back down to earth. I was amazed at how I could suddenly feel the warmth of the air as we neared the ground, giving the invisible layers of the atmosphere a tangible feel. I got ready to run again as we neared the ground, and our landing was perfect. I was so grateful for such an incredible experience! For more information about paragliding in Central Oregon, visit the Desert Air Riders’ website at The club’s 20th-annual Pine Mountain Fly-In, a gathering of flying friends, is set for Sept. 4-6.

Group Aims to Save Live Theatre,
One Bar at a Time

During the cold of this past winter, David Orton and Kelly D. Edwards met while working together on a promotional music video. Orton was the director and cinematographer on the project, Edwards was the talent.

They were impressed with each others’ work ethic, as Edwards explained that: “We ended up accomplishing a majority of the project ourselves.” The collaboration seemed to work so they approached friend and fellow hard worker, Todd Schmidt, and soon they formed TWB Productions. TWB Productions stands for Theatre With Beer (and/or Balls) and is a local, for profit, professional live theatre company whose mission is to introduce live theatre to non-traditional audiences in a relaxed pub setting (meaning eat and drink before, during and after the show).   

Edwards said, “We chose Lamppost Reunion as our first project because it takes place in a bar and thusly is perfect for “pub theatre.” McMenamins shares our vision and has actively put forth all of their staff resources at our disposal, insuring for a wonderful pub theatre experience.  “TWB Productions is a group of like-minded individuals who have one shared goal to help save live theatre from extinction,” said Edwards.

To accomplish this heady task, they resurrected Louis LaRusso’s Lamppost Reunion and have been showcasing it at Bend’s McMenamins Old St. Francis School. Lamppost Reunion, a timeless tale staged in a bar (the audience seems like they’re part of the performance), was nominated for a Tony Award for Best New Play and for Lead Actor (Danny Aiello 1976). The interaction between the bartender and his four customers is reminiscent of something that might have happened to Frank Sinatra and in fact Sinatra attempted to have a judge issue a court order to shut the play down (so as not to show the world this dark part of his life). 

Still the group says they had a heck of a time convincing bar owners that they could draw people in on slow nights.”McMenamins ‘got’ and understood our vision,” remarked Edwards. “Sales Manager Cynthia Gozalez welcomed TWB and has steadfastly put all the McMenamins staff support towards the project’s success.” To make the play as authentic as possible TWB designed and built a functional bar set.  The design had to be sturdy enough to withstand having to set it up, and break it down nightly, big enough to look like a real ‘’seedy’’ bar in Hoboken New Jersey and small enough to break down and fit in a transport trailer.

“Men and woman have been sharing stories and ‘acting them out’ since the cave man days, sitting around the community fire,” said Edwards. “This is a true human art form that unfortunately has fallen to the wayside due to mankind’s addiction to electronic media technology (i.e.: TV, cable, the internet, video games). “Our ultimate goal, first and foremost, is to attract a new and vibrant audience to all theatres in order to save live theatre as a collective whole.”  

Monday, 8pm July 26 A Special Benefit Performance for the National Transplant Assistance Fund, to help with the medical and associated costs of a kidney transplant for Bend resident Bonnie Morrissey.  Lamppost Reunion in advance at $20 (per person), and $25 (per person) at the door. 100% of the proceeds going to Bonnie’s medical expenses through the NTAF.

 In the years that Bonnie and Monterey Morrissey have lived in the Central Oregon area, they have been involved in the theatre and performing arts community, both behind the scenes with Film Oregon Alliance, the Tower Theatre, and Innovation Theatre Works, and on stage with Around the Bend Radio Theatre and Buckboard Productions.  Bonnie needs a new kidney because of the hereditary Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) that runs in her family.  She is healthy right now, but doctors anticipate she will need a new kidney in the next few years.  Donations can be made to her at, or call Yoleen Faerber 541-633-9637.

PERFORMANCES / TICKETS McMenamins Old St. Francis School Dates
June 6  Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
June 10 Thursday (8pm -doors open 7pm)
June 13 Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
June 14 Monday (8pm -doors open at 7pm)
June 20 Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
June 24 Thursday (8pm -doors open 7pm)
June 27 Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
June 28 Sunday (8pm -doors open 7pm)
July 11 Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
July 12 Monday (8pm -doors open 7pm) 
July 18 Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
July 19 Monday (8pm -doors open 7pm) 
July 25th- Sunday (6pm- doors open 5pm)
July 26 Monday (8pm -doors open 7pm)
Cash only (ATM on site) $15
Advanced Reduced Price $12.50 (plus $1.50 service charge)  
Cafe Alfresco, 614 NW Cedar Ave. Redmond. Special Dinner/Show Performances June 2 & 3, July 7 & 8 Weds. & Thurs. $45 per person, includes a 3 course buffet style meal with beverage (non-alcoholic). Doors open 5:30pm, dinner 6pm, show 7:30pm. 541-923-2599

To Subscribe to Cascade Discovery please send your request to:
Cascade Discovery
404 NE Norton Ave.
Bend, OR 97701


Subscription cost: 1 year (6 issues) Local area/$12 • Out of area/$15.

Contact our office if you would like to combine your subscription with any of our other great publications


Back to top of page