Fall foliage: When you can expect peak color in Oregon


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Who is ready to take their fall walk through the neighborhood to find some colorful leaves?

We aren’t quite to the coloring box of red, orange and yellow yet, but the next few weeks will show way more color. Right now, portions of the Gorge and potentially around the Portland region are starting to transition. You may have the top of your tree turning redder, but it hasn’t taken the full plunge just yet. The peak days of fall tend to arrive later in the month, which makes October, an amazing month for hiking.

Right now, portions of the valley that are farther south, are still on the edge of the process. You may have a few trees that have decided to start, but the overall process is still a week or two out.


The transition from minimal to patchy color can happen quickly. You can pair a full weekend of fall festivals in the next two to three weeks if you want to take it all in. Many locations around Vancouver and Portland should hit the patchy level by mid-October. What is great is you can plan your hikes around the expected foliage time. Work through the Gorge and higher elevations first, before you maybe visit some of the hills farther south in the Willamette Valley. It’s southwest Oregon that is expected to transition later compared to the rest of the state.

If you’re curious about the leaf process, it’s just a touch of biology. It all boils down to chlorophyll and the other pigments that are embedded into the makeup of that type of leaf. In the grand scheme, when the daylight starts to shed as we enter our fall months, the chlorophyll starts to break down and allows for other pigments to come out. You can see a list of colors in the graphic below. Fancy words for fall trivia.

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