Fall Foliage & Bird Watching in Oregon’s Tualatin Valley
Where to Watch the Seasons Change
The nature of, well, nature itself is always in flux. No matter when you visit Tualatin Valley, there will be sure to be remnants of the season past, vibrant bursts of the current season living in its truest forms and hints of the season to come. The late autumn welcomes muted yet warm colors, crisp air and cooler temperatures. Whether you are traveling the Tualatin Valley by car, bike or on foot, for two hours or a whole weekend, ignite your senses with the lingering fall and first signs of winter wonder.
Drenched in hues of earthy golds, oranges, reds and browns, Oregon’s Tualatin Valley is home to some of the area’s best birdwatching and fall foliage viewing. Pair the vibrant hues of fall with the migration of birds as they fly south for the winter, and you have the perfect fall getaway.
Fall Foliage Leaf Peeping
For a front row seat to nature’s ever-changing beauty, take a joy ride along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, a 60-mile driving route through the Tualatin Valley’s peaceful rural areas. The route provides the perfect views for watching the seasons change from one to the next. Find panoramic views at local vineyards whose vines are hanging on to the post-harvest yellows and reds before gracefully lying bare for the winter months. Additionally, keep an eye out for crop signs to see what’s planted at each farm you pass. Berry fields may be in a hush, but expect pumpkins, Doug firs and other fall splendors to be bursting along your trail. Along the scenic tour route, the fall colors of the Oregon Coast Range also are within view.
Cyclists will enjoy the views from the 50-mile Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, the only bikeway of its kind in the Greater Portland region. The car-less Banks-Vernonia State Trail provides a canopy of trees overhead, allowing the heart of the season to be seen with a simple look up, while also providing a comforting cover from harsher elements, such as rain and wind. Cyclists of all levels, horseback riders and hikers will enjoy its dense canopy of trees, which erupt in earthy colors during the fall months. Pro Tip: Rent a bike at Banks Bicycle Repair and Rental
Set atop Cooper Mountain in Beaverton is the aptly-named Cooper Mountain Nature Park, where leaf peepers will enjoy the amazing views of the Chehalem Mountains and the Tualatin Valley. Hike through the changing forests, prairies and oak woodlands along the three miles of trails.
Migration Season Bird Watching
Tualatin Valley is smack-dab on the Pacific Flyway, which runs from the Arctic tundra to South American wetlands. Each year, millions of birds migrate along this flyway, bringing many species of birds to the valley during autumn months as they fly south for a long winter vacations.
October is the best months to view these migrating bird species, which can be found at wetlands, preserves and nature parks throughout Tualatin Valley.
Killin Wetlands is the newest nature park in Tualatin Valley, and is a vibrant location for bird watching with one of the highest densities of the American Bittern in all of Oregon. From the observation deck, you may also see Greater Yellowlegs, Mallards, and Double-Crested Cormorants. Pro Tip: Pets are not allowed in the nature parks and wildlife refuges.
Some of the best spots to view birds AND view the fall colors are the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, which features five different habitats, and Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. These protected wildlife areas feature trails that offer some of the best bird watching opportunities in Tualatin Valley during this active season. Pro Tip: The best time to view wildlife is during the most active times for the birds and animals: dawn and dusk.
Download these handy checklists to keep track of the many species you may encounter while visiting:
Jackson Bottom Wetland’s “Bird Species Checklist” (PDF)
Download the Killin Wetlands Field Guide >>>
Download the Greater Portland Bird Checklist >>>
A fall visit to Tualatin Valley will surely be colorful one with vineyards, farms and nature parks eagerly showcasing how fall gracefully and seamlessly inches toward the winter solstice.