With autumn in full swing, it’s hard to pass up the crisp foggy mornings, vibrant colors and the promise of holiday cheer right around the corner. The perfect way to get away, relax and enjoy the seasons change is a hike at Fort Clatsop in the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, where the colors of fall are evident.
Netul Landing, with a trailhead at the Fort's Visitor Center, is a great way to see not only beautiful fall foliage, but also some of Oregon's finest wildlife and scenic landscapes.
Beautiful views aside, however, the park is also full of rich history from the famed Lewis and Clark expedition. Netul Landing marks the end of the new Lewis and Clark trail, where the expedition found a good landing for their canoes and established Fort Clatsop.
The hike itself follows an easy trail that runs about 2 miles. The trek takes you through history and features some of the same sights the expedition members would have seen centuries ago.
The hike begins at Fort Clatsop, where the towering wood walls of the sleeping quarters and the smell of old, rustic lumber demand full attention. For hikers today, bundled in waterproof jackets and standing in sturdy hiking boots as the chilly day nips their cheeks, it’s hard to imagine the living conditions expedition members experienced in 1805, who slept under the same tree canopy you see now.
Aside from a moderate decline at the beginning of the trail, Netul Landing provides a relatively flat path, perfect for hikers of all ages and experience. The fall colors jump when the wind blows and the leaves fall, creating a red, yellow and orange display that lightly covers the trail and crunches beneath hiking feet.
Between the trees, the blue hue of the sky and the green hue of the Lewis and Clark River can be seen as the path winds between a handful of viewing areas.
As hikers cross the wooden bridge, the sounds of wildlife buzzing can be heard over the crunching of leaves and pine needles.
Birds and squirrels chirp and sing as they scamper, gathering and preparing for winter. A beaver’s work can also be seen on the river.
Above the river critters and the chatter of birds and squirrels, the fall colors shine through on a chilly, yet oddly sunny November day – a beautiful view to bring in the new season.
As the warm-colored leaves fall to the ground, look up at the canopy and appreciate those still clutching the branches. Take it all in. Smell the mud, the grass and the forest all around, because the colors and the sunshine wont last long, and a sunny autumn day on the coast cannot be taken for granted.