Fall Foliage & Bird Watching in Oregon’s Tualatin Valley
Drenched in hues of earthy golds, oranges, reds and browns, 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 leisurely tour through the Tualatin Valley’s harvest season—and its accompanying colors—take a drive along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. This 60-mile driving route through the Tualatin Valley’s countryside showcases the juicy fruits of summer exchanging reign with the hearty crops of fall. The trees along the route are bursting with fall foliage, painting the landscapes in a palette of earthy green, golden yellow and brilliant red.
Cycle (or walk) along the car-free Banks-Vernonia State Trail and set off for a colorful journey along one of Oregon’s most popular trails. 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 >>>