Monday, December 6, 2021

Mt. Hood Fall Colors Tour 2021

October is a colorful month here in NW Oregon.  My camera gets extremely busy trying to capture all the lovely autumn hues, first up high in the mountains, and as the month progresses moving lower in elevation chasing the turning leaves.  The first weekend of October my neighbor, friend, and photo-buddy Cheri suggested a day tour around Mt Hood to see what sort of color we could find.

Sunrise from Jonsrud Viewpoint

We started our Mt Hood tour early, arriving at Jonsrud Viewpoint for sunrise.  Fog filled the valley below my favorite mountain, making for a cool image as the sun lit up the morning sky.

Mt Hood, Trillium Lake, and a lone fisherman

Once the sun was up, we stopped in the nearby town of Sandy for coffee, and then it was on to our next stop, lovely Trillium Lake.

Excellent Mt Hood reflection on Trillium Lake

At Trillium Lake, Cheri and I had nearly clear skies, calm waters (for picture-perfect mountain reflections), great light and a thin layer of fog over the water.  Photographic conditions couldn't have been better!

Autumn hues in a field by Little Crater Lake

After a good hour at Trillium Lake, we drove over to nearby Frog Lake.  There wasn't much here that interested us, so it was back in the car for our the next stop on our tour - Little Crater Lake.

Little Crater Lake

Little Crater Lake is an extremely clear, aqua-blue small lake in the middle of the forest.  There's a Forest Service campground nearby and a quarter-mile stroll will take you to the Pacific Crest Trail (aka PCT).  The bushes and grasses surrounding the lake put on quite a color show and I got some nice images here.

Brilliant red vine maple leaves

From Little Crater Lake it was a short jaunt to larger Timothy Lake.  Cheri wanted to check it out, so she drove by the four large (but closed) campgrounds that line the lake's southern shore.  There wasn't much autumn color happening here so our visit was brief.

Beautiful vine maple leaves

On the road from Timothy Lake back to the main highway, Cheri spotted a group of especially colorful vine maple bushes and made an impromptu pit stop.  These vine maples had the best color we'd seen all day and our unscheduled break garnered some of my favorite images.

Vine maple

From past years I knew Umbrella Falls, near Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort, was a good place to visit for autumn color.  I directed Cheri to the trailhead and we hiked the short quarter mile trail to the waterfall's base.  Sadly by the time we go to Umbrella Falls, the bright midday light was terrible for photography.  As a consolation, I grabbed a few shots of the colorful huckleberry leaves against the white cascading water.

Umbrella Falls

By now it was well past lunchtime, and we were both famished.  Cheri drove to the nearby town of Government Camp and I directed her to a deli I'd patronized before.  From this deli we got two of the tastiest sandwiches I've had in a long time.  Boy did they hit the spot!

Cabin and fall colors

Our final stop was to visit a cabin owned by two of my long-time ex-coworkers and hiking buddies.  The cabin was located on the banks of Still Creek, and the creek was full of salmon, migrating upstream to lay their eggs.  It was fascinating to watch these fish struggling against the current.  I tried to capture some images, but the fish were difficult to photograph.  The one shot I liked was an artsy capture of a fish silhouetted against the rocky stream bed.

Spawning salmon in Still Creek

A wonderful day exploring the 'hood (Mt Hood that is).  I'm thankful to live in such a beautiful part of the world, with lots of subjects to photograph!


  1. Gorgeous photos as always. That second picture makes me feel like taking up fishing, which hitherto I've always thought of as one of the world's most pointless and boring activities!

  2. All the photos have a wow factor. Impossible to choose a favourite.

  3. Great shots of Mt. Hood . I like the one with cirrus clouds around the peak

  4. Lovely photos! You are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful area!

  5. Your watery fall photos are fantastic. So many great views of Mt Hood!

  6. One of my regrets on the PCT is that I blazed past Little Crater Lake. Glad I get to see it. In photos anyway!

  7. How simply awesome was this outing, especially my favourite peak, Mt Hood!

  8. Some stunning images there, especially the Mount Hood ones.


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