The crisp air and cooler temperatures signify the arrival of fall in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory. Fall also means the summer crowds have left, making it the perfect time to visit. Here are five adventures to get families started.
Hike Old Growth Forests: Mt. Hood Outfitters offers a number of guided hikes through the Mt. Hood National Forest where visitors can see the trees show off their fall colors. Huckleberries and vine maples put on a tremendous display around many of the mountain lakes. “With proper warm and waterproof layers, fall is an amazing time to hike in the Mt. Hood National Forest,” said Sarah Kramer, Mt. Hood Outfitters tour guide. “The temperate rainforest is teeming with life as the salmon make their way up the streams to lay their eggs and the ferns, moss, and lichen practically glow green – they are so happy to be saturated once again after the long, dry summer.” To find the perfect trail, head to one of the Mt. Hood National Forest Ranger Stations. Here, helpful rangers point out the best places to discover trees, rivers, and animals.
Spot Goats in Trees at Fall Farms: The valley portion of Mt. Hood Territory is filled with farms that truly give that fall feeling. Walk through acres of pumpkins, feed a fuzzy alpaca, solve a variety of corn mazes or even get up close to elk. Fir Point Farms near Aurora has a lot more to offer than just pumpkins and corn mazes. Their Country Grains Store is known for farm-fresh baked goods and tree-climbing pygmy goats. And when it comes to animals, visiting the adorable alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch is a must. Learn about the science behind alpaca fleece and tour the farm. Or head to Rosse Posse Elk Farm, home to 70 Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk and other friendly animals like miniature donkeys.
Go Leaf Peeping on a Scenic Drive: Spend a day driving through Mt. Hood Territory on one of the many scenic highways. This area offers the best Oregon has to offer in mountain views with fall landscapes when the trees change to yellow, orange and red. These colors are only highlighted more by the never-changing hue of the evergreens. Travel up Highway 26 to the 6,000-foot elevation of Mt. Hood where historic Timberline Lodge sits, follow Highway 224 east along the Wild and Scenic Clackamas River or drive on one of the many rural valley roads over rolling hills lined with fields of crops and sprinkled with animals. No matter the route, expect to find amazing views around every turn.
Experience 175 Years of the Oregon Trail: “Fall is the perfect time for families to visit the End of the Oregon Trail because that is when the pioneers arrived at the end of their six-month journey,” said Bethany Nemec, a local historian at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City. “Visiting this museum is all about connecting with people from the past, bridging the 175 years of history to see beyond the dates and facts and simply make an emotional connection to individual people that experienced the same hopes and fears that we would today.” In addition to the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, Mt. Hood Territory is home to many other Oregon Trail locations including Philip Foster Farm, the Barlow Road, and Jonsrud Viewpoint.
Get in the Spirit on a Historical Ghost Tour: As the first city west of the Rocky Mountains, Oregon City is filled with history. With that much history, chances are there will be a ghost story or two. For a hauntingly good time, book a Northwest Ghost Tour. On the tour, visit historic locations like the Ermatinger House, the oldest home in Oregon City and the third-oldest house in the state. Rumor has it, people have heard an old sailor pulling out a desk chair there. At the Oregon City Municipal Elevator, legend has it that the ghost of a woman who didn’t want the elevator built still yells to take the stairs. And every local knows about the John McLoughlin House where the spirit of the “Father of Oregon” is said to roam the halls. The tours are fun for all ages and sure to get people in the fall spirit.
Bonus! Cozy Up in a Cabin: Autumn in the mountains is just a little bit more magical when relaxing in front of a crackling fire and snuggled up with a favorite warm beverage in hand. Mt. Hood Territory is filled with lodges, vacation rentals and cabins that offer everything from rooms with a view to private hot tubs by a river. Whether enjoying time with the family or deciding to make it a romantic getaway, find the perfect hideaway here.