The Best Fall Hikes in Oregon

hikes in oregon

Don’t you just love the greenery of Oregon? The lush green color that much of Oregon is covered with is one of the claims to fame for the Beaver State and one of the reasons many people love it so much. If you aren’t familiar with the Pacific Northwest, you may be thinking that we have only evergreen trees here. Guess what?! We are blessed with so much more than just the beautiful evergreen trees that we are famous for. But there is nothing quite like autumn in the Pacific Northwest and hiking some of the best fall hikes in Oregon will show you just that! Let’s be honest though, while these are my favorite Oregon trails to hit in the fall, most of them are amazing in a different way every season.

If you know where to look, you will be blessed with amazing views of nature. In Oregon, we are blessed with a true four seasons year, which means that our views are beautiful year-round. Never is it more beautiful than in the fall though and hiking is the best way to see these views (in my opinion). I absolutely love an autumn hike in Oregon and if you haven’t done any fall hiking here yet, you are in for a treat! I have done a lot of hiking in Oregon year-round and these are the best hikes in Oregon that I have experienced during the autumn season.

The Best Fall Hikes in Oregon

Most people who have traveled throughout Oregon will tell you that Oregon is nothing short of spectacular. I’m not just saying this because I live here, but I truly think that Oregon is one of the most beautiful places in the entire United States. There’s a reason why Oregon’s popularity only grew after the Oregon Trail led explorers here. The beautiful natural spaces that we have in this state can keep you busy for a lifetime! We are weekend hikers, but I’d love to start doing it more often!

This state has miles of rugged coastline, miles of sandy beaches, and thousands of acres of beautiful forests to explore. We should have known that hidden in these beautiful places are even more beautiful hiking trails.

These are the best fall hikes in Oregon that I have experienced. I know that there must be plenty more awesome hikes out there, I just haven’t visited them yet! Please share your favorites too!

Peavy Arboretum (Corvallis area)

peavy arboretum oregon
(This wasn’t taken in the fall, unfortunately, but I’m sure you can imagine the beauty of the fall colors at Peavy…I will continue to look through my photos for a good fall one!)

Peavy Arboretum is operated by Oregon State University and has served as the college of forestry management since the 60s. Here you will find over 30 miles of hiking trails, each containing many different species of trees and foliage as well as countless wildlife viewing opportunities. 

You can learn all about Peavy Arboretum and the McDonald Forest trail system here.

Peavy is great! If you are looking for an easy hike, or a difficult one, you’ll find them all here. There are simply so many options for you! Plus, there are lots of fun things to see along the way. Because there are so many trail options for you to choose from, there are also many different starting points. Just pick a parking lot and go!

Multnomah Falls (Columbia River Gorge)

If you have done any hiking in Oregon, you have likely been to Multnomah Falls. This Oregon hike is among the most well-known in the area. Multnomah Falls is one of the most recognizable images from the state of Oregon and for good reason. It is truly one of the great views throughout the state! The image of the 620-foot falls cascading down framed by the autumn colors of the maple trees surrounding is a visually stunning experience that you won’t soon forget.

You can learn more about Multnomah Falls here

Blue Pool (Tamolitch Falls)

blue pool oregon

Blue Pool may not be one that you think of often when you think of fall hikes in Oregon. It is always one that comes to mind when I think of summer hikes, but let me tell you. Blue Pool is stunning in the fall. The pops of autumn color coming from the surrounding trees with the backdrop of the bright blue pool of water. It’s simply amazing. 

On my first attempt at this trail, I brought along a stroller for my youngest. That was not a great idea. It was just way too rocky to push it easily, so I definitely recommend against making that same mistake.

Learn more about Tamolitch Falls here

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

If you are looking for a really unique fall hike in Oregon, be sure to check out the Newberry national volcanic monument. Newberry National Volcanic Monument is located near Bend in Central Oregon’s high desert. On my first visit here I was in awe of the unique formations and geological features surrounding in nature here. The highest peak here is Paulina Peak which sits at 7,985 ft and is a great place to see amazing views of the Cascade Range Mountains.

Mary’s Peak

Marys peak oregon

Mary’s Peak is one of my favorite places to hike year-round because of all of the beautiful things you can see and perhaps the best views of any trail on this list. I’m not exaggerating one bit when I say that on a clear day, you can see the pacific ocean as well as amazing views of the mountain ranges of central Oregon. The panoramic views here are stunning You get these views of course because of the elevation of Mary’s peak. It sits at 4097 feet and is the highest point in the Oregon Coast Range Mountains. Once you turn onto the road for Mary’s Peak you will quickly notice the elevation gain. Be sure to look for the little waterfalls along the way too, there are some great turnouts perfect for photo ops.

We talked a little bit about Mary’s Peak in a different post. Check it out here.

Opal Creek (Near Gates)

opal creek oregon
This photo doesn’t capture just how beautiful Opal Creek was in the Fall, but I loved all of the old buildings and mines so much that I wanted to share! I’m sure this is no longer there, but wow was it fun to see.)

While at the time of this posting, the Opal Creek trail system is currently closed due to damage sustained by the Beachie Creek fire in 2020, it remains among my favorite fall hikes in Oregon. The backdrop of the autumn-colored foliage of the forest with the old steam-powered engines and historic mill site makes for a beautiful site and excellent photo opportunities. This is an Instagram-loving hiker’s dream come true. We can all hope and pray for it to someday be reopened and back to its former glory. 

You can learn more about Opal Creek here

Drift Creek Falls (Otis)

Outside of Peavy Arboretum, I believe that I have hiked Drift Creek Falls more than any other in the state. It definitely tops my list of favorite hikes in Oregon. My in-laws own a home in the area so whenever we visit them there we make a trip to Drift Creek. I love Drift Creek Falls for multiple reasons. It is close to the beach, and it’s a hike that can easily be done by the family but still offers some challenges. Did I mention that there is a SUSPENSION BRIDGE?! I’m a big lover of bridges and this is my favorite part of this hike. It’s also nestled into the coast range mountains so the foliage you see during the fall months is all quite beautiful.

As I mentioned, the Oregon Coast Range mountains are home to this beautiful trail and waterfall, and let me tell you. There is nothing quite as beautiful as the Oregon Coast Range in the fall. We have done this trail many times during all of the seasons of the year and while I still say summertime is my favorite for this one, fall comes pretty damn close. 

Oh, and be sure to keep on the lookout for some old-growth forests in the area. We Oregonians are a bit spoiled and often forget that not everyone is familiar with the massive old-growth trees as we are, but sometimes we remember to slow down and take it all in.

While this trail is 20+ minutes away from Lincoln City, you’ll often find Drift Creek Falls listed as one of the best Oregon Coast hikes.

You can learn more about Drift Creek Falls here

Smith Rock State Park

Oh, Smith Rock State Park has my heart. Seriously. It is one of the most beautiful hikes in the state and fall only makes it better! I happen to think summertime is a bit too hot for hiking here most of the time (I’m old, give me a break), but those views are stunning year-round. There is a reason why so many people take their wedding and engagement photos here. It really is a beautiful place.

Smith Rock is also home to many different levels of hikes too. You can take a leisurely nature walk or you can scale up the side of the rock in one of the famous rock climbing areas here, or you can go for something in between. Whatever your skill levels are, you’ll find an option for you here!

Silver Falls State Park (Silverton)

This is easily one of the most popular of the Oregon State Parks and a well-known one for hikers in the area. Here you can see SEVEN different waterfalls, including one that you can walk behind! If you want to really give your legs a workout, you can check out the trail of ten falls and see all of the waterfalls that this state forest park has to offer.

I will tell you a little secret about this one. I once visited Silver Creek Falls With my daughter’s 4th-grade class and learned that this park is actually located in a rainforest. No wonder the foliage is so amazing and to see it in the fall is something else!! Call me dumb, but I had no idea that we had rainforests in our area until this visit I made as an adult.  

Silver Creek Falls definitely makes the best hiking list for beginners and experts alike. There are several loops so you can go at your own pace and not overexert yourself.

Also, be sure to look out for more great old-growth forest trees while you are there too!

Painted Hills

painted hills oregon

The Painted Hills are a part of the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument in Eastern Oregon and are often mentioned as one of the “7 Wonders of Oregon.” The painted hills are quite possibly one of the most beautiful places in Nature I have ever seen. Outside of Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, I can honestly say that this was my favorite place to photograph.

As far as hiking goes, there are only five relatively short and easy hikes here at Painted Hills. These trails range from a quarter mile up to about 1.6 miles in length.

I’m sure that the Painted Hills are beautiful to visit year-round, however, I think that fall is the best time to visit. I visited in the fall and summer in the past. I have found that summer was just too hot for our taste, but fall was perfect. Plus, we didn’t have to worry about snow!

Crater Lake National Park

We all know that Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country, and we know that it’s a great place to take stunning photos (we’ve all seen them on social media, am I right?), but did you know that you can find miles of trails here?! For years our family wanted to visit Crater Lake, but every time we would think of it it would either be late in the summer and we were contending with wildfires in the area, or it would be wintertime with lots of snow. That is why this is such a great place to visit during the fall months. It’s perfect timing!

I’ve been to quite a few National Parks in my lifetime (I have dreams of visiting more!), but Crater Lake remains among my favorites!

You can learn more about Silver Creek Falls here

Mount Hood National Forest

Mount Hood National Forest is home to countless trails from a short distance to miles long. If you really love hiking in rugged nature, this is the place to go! Visiting in the fall is a great idea so that you can avoid the heavy snowfall that often falls in the winter.

I really love hiking in Oregon and beyond and I truly don’t believe that in this amazing state, there is just no perfect place for a hike, because there are many perfect places in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

Best Sunrise Hikes in Oregon

I have recently been asked about sunrise hike recommendations, so I wanted to add a list for those of you looking for that too! Before heading out on your spectacular sunrise hike, be sure to google sunrise times so you know exactly when to be there.  If you are looking for the best early-morning, sunrise hikes in Oregon, check out this list of some of our favorites:

Trillium Lake 

The Trillium Lake Loop is an easy hike that takes just over a half hour to complete, so if you are looking for a short hike on an easy trail, this is the one! This loop is a great option for a sunrise hike. 

Tumalo Mountain Peak

This is a difficult hike, although not too long. It is just over 2 and a half miles out and back, but if you are looking for a great spot to experience a beautiful hike for the morning, this is one of the best in the state in my opinion. 

Rowena Crest

The Tom McCall Point Trail is open from March to October and offers a gorgeous sunrise view, making it a great hike for the early morning. 

​Wizard Island Trail

The Wizard Island Trail is a moderately rated hike that takes roughly 1 hour, however, this one is really a full-day trip. This trail requires that you take the Wizard Island Boat Tour in order to get to the island.  This trail offers a beautiful view of Crater Lake that most visitors don’t typically get to experience! Talk about a spectacular sunrise adventure! This is not a trail that is accessible in the winter months though, as it gets blocked by too much snow. 

Pilot Butte

Pilot Butte offers so many great viewing opportunities! The Pilot Butte summit is a beautiful spot to see a stunning sunrise or an equally amazing sunset on a Pilot Butte hike. You can explore the extinct cinder cone volcano, and experience the beauty of walking through stands of safe and juniper trees and the summit all of the hikes here lead to the summit and a panoramic view of the high desert that central Oregon is so well known for. 

Hit this hike at the crack of dawn on a clear day and you can expect to see vast views of the Three Sister Mountain range, snowcapped Cascade mountains, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Black Butte. This really is one of the best ways to experience some of Oregon’s best views. 

I have found these hikes to be great for summer months and beyond! I personally love clear chilly mornings for hiking, so I definitely don’t limit these hiking places to summertime only. That being said, it’s important to check the weather conditions for the hike you are planning, because you just never know when snow or bad weather will turn a great hike into a dangerous one.

More Fall Hikes in Oregon and Other Stops to Make

  • Mary’s Peak is another great one to visit during fall. From here you can look down at the valley and all it’s beautiful fall colors.
  • If you are headed to the coast for the day, I highly recommend a stop at Thor’s Well.

Just for fun, be sure and read all about these Fun Facts About Hiking!

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