The leaves are changing colors, the temps are dropping, and people everywhere are renewing their annual interest in all things pumpkin-spiced. It’s Fall, and it’s a gorgeous time of the year over here in Central Oregon. When I lived in the rainy parts of both Oregon and Washington, namely Eugene and Olympia, everyone joked that we only had two seasons: Rainy Season and August. But over here on the east side of the mountains, we have seasons. Real seasons.
Summer is hot and sunny with hardly any precipitation. Fall is crisp and clear, with just enough moisture to give the mountains a light dusting of snow. As fall progresses, the snow starts to dump, piling up throughout the cold (but often still sunny!) winter. Spring is probably the wettest, as milder temperatures begin to melt away at the snow, filling our lakes and rivers as we head back into summer.
This perfect template of what seasonal transitions should look like is one of the many reasons I absolutely love living here. There’s always a big change to look forward to. I’m usually a season ahead, always mentally fast-forwarding in anticipation of everything I love about the next one.
But Fall is the exception. Autumn lasts for three months, but somehow it never seems quite as long as the rest of the seasons. There’s a small window of time between late September and late October where everything magical about the outdoors converges into what I like to call hiking’s prime time.
My favorite aspects of hiking are the solitude, the scenery, and simply enjoying exercise in the fresh air. All three of these features are amplified during this amazing month-long stretch . When school starts, the trails’ summer influx drives home or heads indoors, leaving even the most popular hiking routes nearly empty. Stunning Autumn color adorns the trails, providing a last hurrah before winter snow blankets everything in white. The cooler temperatures make working up a sweat a little more inviting, too. Most of the hungry mosquitoes have even died off by this time of year.
Where to go? I’d suggest heading to higher elevations that are inaccessible in the winter. Good options in Central Oregon would be anywhere in the Mt. Jefferson or Three Sisters Wilderness areas. If you feel like staying near Bend, the aspens at Shevlin Park put on a stunning show during this time of year.
I know it’s tempting to swap your hiking boots for ski boots and start praying for snow, but don’t. We’re smack dab in the middle of hiking season’s prime time. Don’t miss it.