Thursday, January 10, 2019

Autumn Color and Waterfall Extravaganza

Weary of the dull, gray January days?  This post is for you!

Continuing in my attempt to play catch up, I've made it to the photos from early October and my trip to Central Oregon's Clear Lake and McKenzie River.

Awesome sunrise over Detroit Lake

After visiting Clear Lake last year and witnessing some of the best fall colors in Oregon, I vowed to return again.  So I set aside the first weekend in October for a repeat visit.  Hoping to catch early morning light, avoid Portland's rush-hour traffic, and beat the rain that was forecast for mid-morning, I left home at an ungodly early hour.  But the perks of an o-dark-hundred departure?  Catching an amazing sunrise as I passed by Detroit Lake.

Fall colors were peaking at Clear Lake

Pulling into Clear Lake's parking area by 8:30 am, I was greeted by an amazing display of multi-hued vine maple leaves reflecting into the lake's aquamarine waters.  Fall colors were definitely at their peak.  Oh yeah!  This was exactly what I'd come for.

Vibrant reflections

Cloudy skies and humid weather made these vibrant leaves absolutely pop.

And more reflections

A five-mile hiking trail circles Clear Lake.  From the day use area, I opted to traverse the path in a counter-clockwise direction.  The first half mile hugged the shoreline, offering many vistas to view surrounding colorful bushes and their mirror images in the water.  Let's just say progress started out mighty slow.

Vine maple putting on a show

After copious photos, I managed to make it to the lake's very southern end.  Crossing a large wooden bridge spanning the McKenzie River (Clear Lake's exit point), I continued on past a deserted campground.

Colorful bay

Now following the eastern shoreline, I traversed a lava flow area.  This was one of my favorite spots for color - the bushes absolutely lit up with vibrant reds and yellows.

One of my favorite color spots

It was also here that I felt my first raindrops.  Uh-oh!  Time to pull on the raingear.  Guess the weatherman was right about today's forecast.

Multi-hued bushes

I continued my journey in a heavy mist.  Although it was difficult to keep my camera dry, the moisture on the leaves made colors especially vivid, and I just couldn't resist risking a camera dousing for more photos.

Scenic footbridge

I passed by the spring at the lake's northern end.  Bubbling out from the lava beds, it's Clear Lake's primary water source.  Supplying  the lake's incredibly clear water, this underground spring also keeps water temperatures between 43 and 35 degrees F, even during summer months.

The forest floor was a wash of color

Rounding the lake's northern end, I crossed a cute log footbridge surrounded by bright yellow foliage.  I then passed through an area where every leafed tree and bush displayed their autumn best.  The forest floor was a wash of color.  It was almost better than the lava fields!

Vine maple leaves

It was nearly 11:30 by the time I landed back at my car.  But the slow pace had been worth it - Clear Lake's fall colors were incredible.  Even better than last year's show.

Sahalie Falls

Still having the afternoon to explore, I headed down the highway to nearby Sahalie and Koosah Falls.  The day's rain had Sahalie Falls roaring.

McKenzie River

Then on to Koosah Falls.  A half-mile long trail connects the two waterfalls.  This path follows the banks of the scenic McKenzie River.  I made frequent stops to photograph it's boisterous, ultra-blue rapids.

Koosah Falls through the foliage

My first glimpse of Koosah Falls was through a screen of yellow vine maple.  Made for a nice composition, if I do say so myself.

Koosah Falls

There's only one viewing platform that gives visitors a full view of Koosah Falls, and even then I had to gyrate my tripod precariously to capture the full cascade.

Ultra-blue McKenzie River

Then it was another wonderful trip back along the McKenzie River to my car.

Even the leaves on the ground are pretty!

One final stop for the day.  I was close enough to revisit a favorite Central Oregon Cascade, Proxy Falls.  A quick drive up winding Highway 242 brought me to it's trailhead.

Vibrant vine maple on the path to Proxy Falls

By now the rain was coming down full force.  But no matter, I was already somewhat wet.  And again, the day's moisture made autumn colors along the trail absolutely pop.  The vine maple was simply stunning.

Scenic trail signs

A mile's trek brings visitors to first the upper falls.  The real show is at the lower falls, but access requires a bit of downhill scrambling.  I slid down the final slope, banging my knee, and dropping my tripod in the process.  But edging out onto the creek below Proxy Falls, the waterfall rose above majestically.  Covered in brilliant green moss and framed by fir boughs, it was a stunning setting.  The images I was able to capture were totally worth the trouble getting here.

Proxy Falls

By now my clothes, shoes, backpack, and camera were thoroughly soaked.  Time to head to my brother's house in Bend for some warmth and food.  I'd talked my brother into a hike for the following day, and let's just say it was going to be mighty spectacular. 

Continued in my next post.....


  1. Well if that very colourful post did not cheer you up, there is something wrong with you!! Wonderful photographs. Have a a great weekend

  2. Um Outono bem colorido nestas belas montanhas.
    Fotografias fantásticas.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

  3. ...this is as close to heaven as you can get here on earth, thanks Linda.

  4. Amazing colors and waterfalls. Those lakes and streams are astonishingly clear

  5. That is always such a stunning area...but fall looks like the BEST! Fabulous photos!

  6. That sunrise way stunning and the fall photos beautiful

  7. Well that's cheered me up! It's been unrelentingly grey here today, I went out for an eight mile walk and didn't take a single photo.

  8. Those colors are so nice, I often leave early to get in position for a sunrise or sunset. We have a clear Lake in IOwa, I will go to a Kite festival there next month.

  9. Wow, what a great series of shots!! I enjoyed every one of them, but my jaw dropped with the opening sunrise photo. Have a great weekend, and looking forward to your next post!

  10. Great set of photos and reflection shots.

  11. Just what I needed on this freezing day...beautiful bursts of colour. Thank you!

  12. That is some great color! Looks like a fun trip.

  13. Thats a wonderful display of colour - one day I hope to see your "Fall Colours"

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  14. Absolutely brilliant colours. Wow photgraphy!

  15. Incredible colour in all those pictures Linda!

  16. Love Clear Lake! Have only seen it in sunshine though. Great photos as usual. Do you ever take a bad one?

  17. Those waterfalls! So pretty.

  18. Autumn is my favorite season because of all this beauty! That sunrise was stunning!

  19. Wow, awesome photos. The colors are gorgeous. Love the waterfalls, colorful leaves and the lake sunrise. Enjoy your day and week ahead.

  20. What a gorgeous place with such fabulous fall colors. I'm not tired of January yet - the occasional snow makes for a nice change from all our sunshine ;)

  21. A group of us used to mountain bike the McKenzie River trail every September, but I don't remember ever seeing the stunning fall colors you photographed. I can see a return trip in my future; thanks for sharing these beautiful photographs!

  22. Such lovely waterfalls and awesome fall color!

  23. Just stunning! Color overload!


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