Are you looking for an adventure before the weather turns and finally feels like fall? This article from the Statesman Journal shares five places and ideas in Oregon that you need to see this month.
October might be my favorite month in Oregon.
The leaves are turning, the days are crisp and the weather shifts back and forth between sunshine and much-needed rain.
Best of all is that many trails and rivers that become a crowded circus at the height of summer offer a much mellower scene by mid-October.
Here’s a grab bag of my favorite places, events and ideas for this transitional month.
Few things are more fun during autumn than hunting Oregon’s forest for golden chanterelles, that most delectable of mushrooms.
Not sure how it’s done? Consider these two events and classes to get you up to speed.
The Yachats Village Mushroom Fest is Oct. 17-19. Located in this hamlet on the Central Oregon Coast, the festival features mushroom walks, talks and tastings. There are culinary markets, wine and beer tasting, live music and entertainment.
On Nov. 1, Bureau of Land Management Botanist Ron Exeter is hosting a mushroom identification discussion at BLM’s Alsea Falls Recreation Site from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Participants will learn how to identify many edible mushrooms, including chanterelles, and will be provided suggestions on where to find them.
To find Alsea Falls Recreation Site, head south on Highway 99W from Corvallis for 16 miles. Turn west on Alpine Road (which eventually becomes South Fork Road) a total of 13.5 miles, following signs for Alsea Falls.
Float the North Santiam
For much of the summer, and especially into August and early September, rafting and kayaking the North Santiam River is an exercise in rock dodging due to low water.
Beginning in October, though, dam releases pump up the volume of the river as Detroit Reservoir prepares for the rainy winter season.
The result is a river that goes from boney to juicy in a matter of weeks. Big waves and easier navigating downstream — along with beautiful autumn colors along the river — make this a wonderful time to paddle the two main runs of the North Santiam.
The more challenging run is Packsaddle Park to Mill City, a Class III stretch that requires strong river skills to navigate a trio of Class III+ rapids. (People who raft often head another mile downstream and take out at Fishermen’s Bend Recreation Site.
The less challenging, but still fun, section is Fishermen’s Bend to Mehama Bridge. This run is Class II+, but anyone attempting this section should still have strong whitewater skills. Always wear a life jacket.
Hike South Breitenbush Gorge
This blissful slice of trail follows the South Breitenbush River 3 miles one-way, across a series of funky bridges, through an old-growth forest filled with bright autumn colors and past two dramatic landmarks.
Two highlights include a gorge where the river thunders into a narrow slot and a scenic bridge over mossy, pristine Roaring Creek.
Make sure to follow “gorge” pointers on the trail. To find the gorge, keep an eye out exactly 2.5 miles from the trailhead for two old logs sticking out into the trail. Follow this spur down toward the sound of rushing water for the viewpoint.
The Roaring Creek bridge is the turnaround point for a 6-mile out-and-back hike.
Open: March to late November (or whenever snow starts in lower elevations)
Directions: From Detroit, turn left onto Breitenbush River Road 46 for 11 miles. Just past the mile marker 11, turn right onto a road that is marked by a stop sign and labeled Road 4600-050. Continue down this gravel road less than half a mile to a pullout on the left, just before a green gate. The trail begins just to the left of the green gate with signs marked “gorge trail.”
Float the Rogue River
Southern Oregon’s Rogue River features one of the best multi-day river trips in the world.
Problem is, during the height of summer you need a $10 float permit that can be difficult to obtain.
By Oct. 16, however, you no longer need a permit to paddle 34 miles of spectacular canyon scenery from Grave Creek (near Grants Pass) to Foster Bar (near Gold Beach). The ability to navigate Class III and IV rapids is essential, along with being able to set up leave no trace camps that keep this river wild and scenic.
For more information, contact the BLM offices in Southern Oregon at (541) 479-3735.
Hike Silver Falls / Shellburg Falls
It always depends on the conditions, of course, but late October is often the most scenic time to visit Silver Falls State Park and Shellburg Falls.
The trees turn a spectacular gold and the rain normally ensures these waterfalls are booming.
Any number of hiking trips makes sense — there is no shortage of options — for both easy family-friendly hikes.
At Silver Falls, the Canyon Trail showcases 10 waterfalls that can be enjoyed on either short or long hikes. Pick up at map at the entry booth and choose your own adventure.
Shellburg Falls a bit quieter. An easy hike of 2.6 miles round-trip brings you face to face with the main attraction, Shellburg Falls thundering through a gold forest. Follow an old gated road 1.3 miles to a bridge over Shellburg Creek and turn left. Hike a quarter-mile through increasingly dense forest to Shellburg Falls and a trail winds behind the curtain of dropping water. The trail continues onto Vine Maple Trail and August Mountain Trail.
Directions to Shellburg Falls Trail: From Salem, head east on North Santiam Highway 22. After 22.4 miles, turn left immediately before Mehama’s flashing yellow light, opposite the Gingerbread House. Follow paved Fern Ridge Road for 1.2 miles to a small gravel parking lot on the right.
Make your traveling fun and easy by visiting this Pete Scamardo Facebook page.