The coming of fall brings the thought of holiday seasons, favorite sports teams playing once again, or just nice, cool weather. Mid-October is considered the height of the fall foliage season, and deciduous species like ashes, aspens, elms, maples, sweetgums, dogwoods, cottonwoods, birches, ginkgoes and more are changing color now and over the next several weeks.
Since many of Oregon’s trees are evergreen, the best places to view fall foliage may be public spaces like backyards, neighborhoods and parks, but a fall color hike is a good opportunity to get some exercise.
According to Hoeger and Hoeger’s “Principles and Labs for Fitness and Wellness”, “In the United States, physical inactivity is the second greatest threat to public health (after tobacco use) and is often referenced in new health concerns about sitting disease, sedentary death syndrome (SeDS) and hypokinetic diseases.”
Students who are still learning remotely or online, commuting long hours, and logging excessive homework and study time would greatly benefit from daily exercise, according to Hoeger and Hoeger. Hiking this season provides a cheap way to do so while enjoying beautiful fall vistas.
Additionally, being outdoors has been shown to reduce stress levels. As a bonus, hiking can allow us to socialize by providing 6 foot spacing between participants. Experienced hikers suggest planning ahead, check the forecast, and bring layers (and face masks).
Crater Lake National Park and the surrounding geologically historic area offers a wealth of hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities. The Garfield Peak and Mt. Scott trails are both popular. Entrance into the park boundary requires a fee, but bringing friends along makes the trip more affordable when splitting costs. An annual National Parks Pass which can provide entry is now $80 and grants unlimited access to any national park and monument for an entire year. Expect snow and road closures later in the season.
The Umpqua National Forest east of Roseburg off of Highway 138 offers other fall color opportunities and a plethora of waterfalls like Toketee, Watson and Whitehorse to check out. Close to the highway, the North Umpqua Trail spans across much of the North Umpqua River and can provide many day hikes or a popular beginner level multi-day backpacking trip. The National Forest in this area also features many popular lakes like Lemolo and Diamond Lakes, each with hiking opportunities nearby.
About 100 miles west of Roseburg, the Coos Bay area offers a multitude of hiking opportunities though autumn colors may be limited. One highly rated hike here is the Sunset Bay to Simpson Beach Trail that is about 5 miles round trip. Farther north, the Ocean Dunes National Recreation Area offers 40 miles of coastal recreation opportunity. In this area you will witness the largest expanse of coastal sand dunes in North America.
For a hiking location close to UCC’s campus, the Blacktail and Thistle ridge hikes at the North Bank Habitat Management Area have pleasant views of the North Umpqua River basin and riparian flora.
Hikes for fall color viewing, whichever location is chosen, may need to happen quickly. According to Jarred Saralecos, UCC forestry associate professor, the heat waves and drought we experienced this summer may lead to earlier and faster leaf color changes. He also said that the viewing window for these colors may be shorter consequently.
For more information on hiking trail ideas, with trail maps, difficulties and lengths, check out the AllTrails website or app. For those new to hiking or wanting to outdoor recreate responsibly, check out the Leave No Trace principles. For identifying trees, the apps INaturalist or Seek are helpful.
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