Thursday, October 26, 2017

Umbrella Falls Trail Autumn Color Show

Autumn colors were out in force on the flanks of Mt Hood.  But I'd been good, sitting out hiking for two entire weeks to let my broken toe heal.  However, once reports of turning leaves hit social media I just couldn't stay home any longer.  I've never missed the local mountain's annual color show, and wasn't about to start.

Dew-speckled golden leaves

Luckily for me, there's a few shorter Mt Hood hikes that deliver in the fall color department.  One of my favorites is the Umbrella Falls Trail.  A short 4.5 mile jaunt through scenic huckleberry fields, this trails packs a lot of bang for your buck, featuring Mt Hood views and a spectacular waterfall.

A few green huckleberry leaves left

Fearing crowds, I got an early start one chilly October morning, and was pulling into the trailhead by 8:30.  The color show started almost immediately, and I wasted several minutes photographing morning dewdrops on a bunch of colorful huckleberry leaves.

Red huckleberry leaves

Then I climbed uphill through fir woods lined with more huckleberry bushes showing off their fall finery.

The locals

I even spotted a group of the locals having breakfast.

"What's the weird lady doing?"

Of course, they were just as interested in me as I was with them ("What's that weird lady with a camera doing?").

Footbridge at Umbrella Falls

After two easy miles, I spotted the cute log footbridge next to Umbrella Falls.

Sunlit huckleberry leaves

The surrounding forest was a kaleidoscope of colors.  Umbrella falls itself wasn't too shabby either.  A beautiful stair-stepped cascade, it fanned out across the rocky cliff face.

Umbrella Falls in all her glory

From lots of trial and error, I've learned that cloudy days are the best for waterfall photography.  Although skies were overcast most of the way up, the sun decided to break out right before my arrival.  Doh!

Falling water close-up

I set up my tripod anyway, and got a few good shots in the shady portions.  But when the sun occasionally ducked behind a cloud, I clicked my shutter like a madman.

A splash of fall

I spent a good hour walking around Umbrella Falls, trying out different angles, hoping to capture that money shot.

Color in the surrounding bushes

I think the above image was my favorite of the falls.

Cloudy Mt Hood sighting

Then I packed up my gear, and headed back through Mt Hood Meadows.  Crossing the ski area boundary, I came upon a patch of brilliant red bushes.  Mt Hood rose above the trees, making a perfect anchor for my camera's frame.

Colorful ski run

I'd just hiked in this same area last July and it was fun to see how different the ski slopes looked with wildflowers replaced by autumn hues.  Maxing out my camera's current memory card, I replaced it with another one out of my bag, and discovered the card had images on it from that same July hike!  What a coincidence.

Orange huckleberry leaves

Who says ski areas look ugly in the off-season?  Not here at Mt Hood Meadows.  I think it's beautiful year-round.  As a matter of fact, the best fall colors were right under the chairlift.

The HRM chairlift sits idle

I finished my trek with a steep downhill ramble that led me back to my car.  With the day still young, I contemplated another short hike, but since my toe behaved itself, I decided not to push it.

Patchwork quilt of fall hues

Crisp, sunny fall days are my absolute favorite for hiking.  Here's hoping I get a few more before the snow flies.


  1. It's looking so good there. Glad you have given your toe a chance to heal. Excellent waterfall shots.

  2. I love how you captured the milky waterfalls. Autumn there is glorious!

    Mersad Donko Photography

  3. Uma maravilha a natureza em toda a sua beleza. Aqueles animais pararam para pousar para a fotografia, ficou espectacular e foi um grande momento fotográfico.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  4. got to love the locals.

  5. Fall colors in the mountains is different than on more or less level ground. Altitude has some influence. I like to look down and see the levels of color change. The valleys are green and the leaves are gone on top.

  6. Lovely photos. Looks a nice trail. Can't beat autumn colours. Wish it was a money shot in reality as then we might make some kind of modest living at it for the 1000s of hours put in over the last nine years :o)

  7. Wonderful walk around, I do love the falls you photographed

  8. How nice to go on a beautiful little hike and not have pain! Gorgeous shots as always!

  9. These are wonderful captures of one of the most beautiful seasons of the year. I love the photos of the deer. So cute.

  10. What wonderful fall pictures! That waterfall and your pix of it is beauful.

  11. Looks like a beautiful falls! I'll have to try this one out since a "short 4.5 mile jaunt" is about my max hike :)

  12. Hello, the fall colors are looking gorgeous. Pretty shots of the waterfalls and the cute deer. A lovely hike and photos. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

  13. Glad your toe allowed this hike. Umbrella Falls is beautiful at every angle. I agree that ski areas are often pretty in all seasons. Ours is slowly turning white.

  14. As always Linda you capture the most beautiful photos of your hike. The colours of Autumn are just divine, and that waterfall is beautiful.

  15. Hi! The autumn color is very beautiful. The name of Umbrella Falls is very nice.The invitation from the nature seems always very exciting for you. You always hear "The call from the far away hills." It's very cool.

  16. Fun to see your favorite places in all seasons! The colors are awesome!! :)

  17. Yet another sensational hike, in your magnificent locality.

  18. Oh so pretty. The waterfall is quite lovely and the autumn colors are just beautiful. I love your hikes.

  19. Just when I think that summer season has the best photos on your blog, I change my mind. Fall, fall is best! (I'm sure I'll change my mind come winter too....) Glad you were able to get out despite the injury.

  20. Umbrella Falls are stunning and I loved the deers peeking out at you along the trail! Autumn is such a beautiful season--my favorite!

  21. Good to see that nature reclaims the ski runs in summer. In Europe they are a pretty nasty eyesore when there is no snow around

  22. Those stunning autumn colors with a bright blue sky... my favorite time of year! Love the photos; too bad about those two weeks you were grounded. If the snow holds off, you'll get more fun in the mountains!

  23. That's such beautiful autumn foliage and scenery.

  24. So beautiful! Love the waterfall. But don't overdo it. Take care of that toe!

  25. beautiful colors and scenery. love umbrella falls.


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