Fall color on the peaks above Coldwater Lake.

The beautiful and little-known Lamberson Spur Trail on the east slopes of Mount Hood.

Opal Creek is always beautiful but never more so than in October, when the trees turn gold and red and the creek seems impossibly green.

  1. Hoyt Arboretum

  2. Coldwater Lake

  3. June Lake

  4. Ramona Falls

  5. Ponderosa Point

  6. Tamanawas Falls and Lamberson Spur

  7. Boulder Lake

  8. South Breitenbush River

  9. Bagby Hot Springs

  10. Opal Creek

It’s October, and all you want to do is go find some fall color, somewhere. The Pacific Northwest has a reputation for lacking in fall color compared to other parts of the United States. This reputation is somewhat deserved. As we do not have large tracts of deciduous forest, there aren’t all that many places where you can go hiking and experience the height of fall color that you can in, for example, New England. But this does not mean that we do not have glorious fall color out here. The hikes presented here offer a wide variety of the best fall has to offer, from the kaleidoscope of color found at Hoyt Arboretum to the glorious vine maple of Ramona Falls to the changing larch trees found on Lamberson Spur on the east side of Mount Hood. While none of this can truly compare to the displays of fall color found east of the Rockies, they don’t have our mountains, waterfalls and ancient forest. As always, it’s a great privilege to live in the Pacific Northwest.

October is also the month when the weather truly begins to change, to transform into the long winter ahead. There are as many rainy days in October as there are sunny days, and this is the month when you should start obsessively checking the weather in the days before your hike. Always make sure you check the snow levels before venturing out into the mountains - mountain snow is increasingly common in October, and some places become increasingly difficult to access. It is for this reason that there are no hikes presented here above 6,000 feet in elevation - that high elevation is often snowed in by early October. With any luck though, you’ll get a sunny, crisp day for your October adventure.

With all of this talk about the weather, it should go without saying that you need to be prepared before you head for the hills. Always take the Ten Essentials and always let somebody know where you are going and when you plan on returning. Any number of things can happen to you out there, and it’s a good idea to make sure somebody knows what to do in case you get lost, your car breaks down, a tree falls on a forest road and blocks you in, and so on and so forth. You should always be prepared in case you need to spend a few days outside. Bring blankets, extra clothes and extra food in your car, and enough warm layers in your bag to make any unintended stay outside as safe as you can make it. October is a great time to be outside - if you are prepared for anything.