It’s autumn in Central Oregon, and you know what that means: Time to hit the road. When it comes to spectacular fall colors, the region is an embarrassment of riches, boasting a wide variety of locales where Mother Nature really struts her stuff.
Over the years, I’ve written about a number of my fall-color favorites, including Camp Sherman, the McKenzie-Santiam Scenic Loop, McKenzie Bridge — even downtown Redmond.
This year, I’m adding Clear Lake to the list.
I’m embarrassed to admit that Jack and I only recently explored Clear Lake, one of the region’s most-popular haunts. And even then it was by accident — one day in mid-September we woke up and faced the fact that taking a two-week summer vacation just wasn’t in the cards this year. So, with autumn nipping at our heels, we scrambled to squeeze in at least one three-day escape ASAP. Given the tight timeframe, staying close to home seemed to make the most sense.
We settled on Clear Lake because it offered a variety of outdoor activities within a close proximity: Jack wanted to mountain bike, I wanted to photo hike and we both wanted to take out our canoe. What’s great about Clear Lake is not only is there a nice loop trail around it, but bikers looking for a real challenge can also access the popular McKenzie River Trail from here. Several other scenic spots — Sahalie Falls, Koosah Falls and the eerie Blue Pool (aka Tamolitch Falls) — are also just a stone’s throw away. And they’re all within an hour’s drive from our home in Tumalo.
After stopping first at Clear Lake Resort to assess our options — (a.) rent a lakeside cabin at the resort; (b.) choose a campsite on the resort side of the lake; or (c.) camp on the opposite side of the lake at Coldwater Cove Campground — we headed to Coldwater Cove (more campsites, fewer people). By stroke of luck — and good timing, shortly before the 1 p.m checkout — we scored an oversized lakeside site with gorgeous views and direct access for our canoe.
As soon as Jack had the tent trailer up and out, we gathered up our dogs, Max and Danny, and ventured onto the lake. Although I had seen the crystal-clear water from afar before (on a previous picnic pitstop), I wasn’t prepared for the impossibly blue shade that can found in numerous spots. It’s hypnotizing, really, it’s so vibrant.
The next three days were spent soaking up the scenery from dawn to dusk. We had so much fun, in fact, we’re headed back in a few weeks — when the fall colors should be at their peak.
Here’s a quick photo tour of our trip:
About the Author
Lisa Broadwater, GRI, CDPE, is a Central Oregon-based real estate professional who specializes in listing and selling homes, especially in Sisters, Tumalo, Bend and Redmond.