Deschutes River, Photo by Valorie Webster

My Top 3 Autumn Trails (and the 3 Best Reasons to Get on Them, Now)

It smells like autumn now in Bend, Oregon. And it feels different … outside and in. As in “within.” What is it about the change of season each fall that makes all my senses do back flips?

Glad you asked.

Reason # 1: New colors explode on the scene in screaming shades of orange, red, yellow and deep dark gold. Reason # 2: The weather in Central Oregon is fantastic this time of year, with gorgeous, glittering afternoons and mild evenings. Reason # 3: No mosquitoes, no summer vacationers, and no dust. It’s just you, your peds, the ground beneath you and the sky above.

Tumalo Falls, photo by Studio 404 Photography

Here are three of my favorite Bend, Oregon autumn trails for hiking and mountain biking –  scattered with leaves and the musty smell of a new season.

1. Tumalo Falls is just 20 minutes from downtown Bend, Oregon and the trail is littered with yellow Aspen leaves – in the trees, on the ground and in the air. One if the best things to know about this hike is that it’s a leash- free area. Great news for dogs and dog lovers. Toddlers: not so much. The waterfall is four miles from the trailhead. Map

2. The Upper Deschutes Trail
follows the banks of the Deschutes River past three dramatic waterfalls: Lava Island Falls, Dillon Falls, and Benham Falls. Your starting point for this trail is Meadow Camp, less than 10 miles from downtown Bend.
Map: Link to MapQuest directions from Bend to Meadow Camp.

3. Paulina Lake /Peter Skene Ogden Trail has the added attraction of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which is a major tourist attraction in the summer and a quiet and compelling stop in the fall. Starting 26 miles south of Bend, the trail (#3956) follows Paulina Creek for 8.8 miles uphill, passing footbridges and waterfalls. Note: mountain bikes are welcome uphill only. Hrmph! But a mountain bike around Paulina Lake or East Lake: nirvana. Read more.

 

More Trails: For details on other trails in Central Oregon, link here to Visit Bend’s website.

Leaf Peepers: If you prefer to take a drive and see the stunning Oregon colors from the comfort of your car, check out the Oregon Fall Foliage blog at http://oregonfallfoliage.wordpress.com/. Weekly postings let you know where to find the best and brightest colors throughout the state. Not online? No problem: call the Fall Foliage Hotline at 800-547-5445. Yeah. It’s that good.

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