It’s summer and you want to play. It’s okay; you can with a few reminders:
One of the many benefits of a park system is the opportunity to view trees that may not be common to the area. Irrigation and soil modifications let us plant trees that offer spectacular fall color displays and special places to enjoy autumn’s glory.
Shevlin Park is our best forest effect. Explosions of aspen with nearly fluorescent greens with a backdrop of western conifers. Look for western larches that turn yellow and lose their needles in the late fall. Located at 18920 Shevlin Park Road, Bend.
Riley Ranch Nature Reserve is focused on nature and wildlife first so it’s a wonderful place to visit in the fall. Colorful trees and shrubs such as aspens, willows and dogwoods can be found in the Deschutes River canyon while the upper meadow areas will feature golden native grasses and bright yellow, flowering sage. A great place to visit in any season, but fall is special here. Located at 19975 Glen Vista Rd, Bend. (Note: No dogs or bikes are allowed to preserve the nature experience. )
Tumalo Creek Trail in Shevlin Park: Located on the west side of Bend, this large, forested park is a wonderful place of discovery and beauty. Starting at the lower parking lot, you’ll find a level trail alongside the bubbling Tumalo Creek. There is a one-mile interpretive trail (be sure to pick up a brochure at Fremont Meadows) which is great for kids and adults. Fall is a fabulous time to go, as you look and ponder the magnificent stands of aspens that are turning brilliant yellows and western larches changing to gold, the only conifers that shed their needles. The park’s diverse flora and fauna are amazing to view and admire.
Pioneer Park has a grove of red maples tucked into a forest of locust and conifers. Great place to walk the trails and have a fall picnic. Located at 1525 Wall St., Bend.
Drake Park is always scenic, but the flow of yellow willow branches into Mirror Pond make autumn awesome. Watch the old cherry tree below the parking lot turn from green to yellow to orange-red. Pretend you’re in New England and have a clam chowder lunch when the maples on Riverside Drive turn yellow. Located at 777 NW Riverside Blvd., Bend.
Sawyer Park spans both sides of the Deschutes River and offers lots of opportunities to experience the river’s natural environment. While you enjoy the changing colors of the grasses and deciduous trees along the river’s banks, try a little fishing or keep an eye out for the native and migratory birds as it’s one of their favorite places. Picnic spot: the “hidden” grass field on the park’s west side. Perfect for frisbee, too. Located at 62999 O.B. Riley Rd., Bend.
Deschutes River Trail has many places featuring autumn color. In addition to the sections of the trail which run through the downtown Bend parks, the South Canyon Reach, River Run Reach and the Awbrey Reach are all especially interesting as the native grasses and foliage change along the trail and the river’s banks. Located in northwest and southwest Bend.
Deschutes River Trail – First Street Rapids Park to Sawyer Park: Located on the west side of Bend, First Street Rapids Park is north of Portland Avenue, across the footbridge that connects from Revere Avenue. This wide, soft surface trail is great for running, walking the dog or simply enjoying the river. Winding through a golf course, the trail crosses Mt. Washington Drive. Soon, you will see the field of Sawyer Park on your right. Follow the trail to the river and another footbridge, a great spot for birdwatching. Soak up Bend’s splendid fall weather and enjoy the beauty of the river.
Deschutes River Trail – Columbia Park to Pioneer Park: Start your adventure at Columbia Park on Columbia Street. Cross the river on the footbridge, veer left through the Riverside neighborhood and continue through several riverfront parks including Drake, Pacific and, finally, to Pioneer. When you reach the northern end of Drake Park, go up to Mirror Pond Plaza and head north on Brooks St. Next, cross Newport Avenue and follow the trail on the paved drive parallel to the river. Continue past the dam to Pacific Park and then cross Portland Avenue to Pioneer Park. You will notice the sounds of the river as it changes from slow moving, to the rush of the dam, to one filled with rapids and whitewater. The wide, paved path is an excellent way to admire the towering trees that are changing from greens to vivid yellows, oranges and reds. This trail is a great place to take photos with the multitude of changing fall colors.
Stover Park has a grove of Norway maple around the playground. Take your kids to the playground and collect leaves for art projects. Located at 1650 NE Watson Drive, Bend.
Hollinshead Park has an ‘orchard’ of bird cherry, maple and crabapples in the off-leash area. Take your dog for a run. Who knows, maybe they can see colors? Located at 1235 NE Jones Rd., Bend.
Blakely Park has its own orchard with flowering fruit trees like pears, cherry and plums. See if you can find the fruiting apple tree as well as the northern red oak trees. Located at 1155 SW Brookswood Blvd, Bend.
Wildflower Park has more than a dozen scarlet oak. Although damaged a few years ago by an early snowstorm, they are starting to come into their own. Located at 60955 River Rim Drive, Bend.
Boat Park at Harmon Park has some really nice Cleveland maples that have a unique yellow leaf that almost glows in the sunshine. Look for the hibiscus and willows along the river to also show off. Located at 1100 NW Harmon Road, Bend.
Columbia Park possibly has the best specimen trees in town. Oaks and maples are big and bright and be sure to look for the Japanese Zelkova tree. Located at 264 SW Columbia St, Bend.
Check out your own neighborhood park via our Bend Parks List. We bet you’ll find some surprising plants and places when the chlorophyll runs out. And don’t forget to thank a Park Services worker, they’re the ones that have to rake up all those leaves.