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Fall is an amazing time to visit the Cascade Loop! Leaves all along the byway change color at this time of year (usually late September through mid-October) with some stretches of roadway in regions such as Stevens Pass, the Methow Valley and the North Cascades National Park saturated with blazing yellow Aspen and multi-colored Mountain Ash, while other spots such as the Tumwater Canyon by Leavenworth are a riot of vibrant red oak. Western Larch and Tamarack can be found in higher elevations as well. Trust us. You will know them when you see them! They are two different species of the same genus but look pretty darned similar--look for brilliant orange pine needles and you'll have struck gold (terrible pun fully intended). Not only wild trees are turning colors at this time though. Orchards stretching along the Wenatchee River from Leavenworth to Cashmere and on to Lake Chelan are also shades of gold, orange and red. Once you approach Lake Chelan, orchards give way to vineyards which are all also changing colors for Fall.

While you're checking out the colors changing, make sure to pay a visit to roadside stands or farmers markets. This time of year is peak season for the world’s finest apples and pears in Leavenworth, Cashmere and Wenatchee. Stomp the grapes and sip wine at Crush in Lake Chelan (first two weekends in October), home to acres of award-winning wine grapes. Munch on fresh berries in Snohomish and Skagit counties. And don’t forget seafood! The Skagit Valley, Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands have an amazing selection of fresh seafood and all manner of produce. 

Take some of those freshly-harvested snacks you pick up along the way and hit the trails to really experience the Fall in-person. There is a sweet window of time when the weather cools and the colors haven't quite yet peaked (usually the first week of October) where it's probably the most pleasant time of the year to hike. The air is crisp and comfortable for hiking and the photos you'll take will be brilliant. Just be sure to pack for a variety of weather (weather changes radically and swiftly this time of year) and remember the saying, "there is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

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The Many Colors of Fall on the Cascade Loop

Prussik Peak in the Enchantments, part of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area

Photo by Andy Porter

Flowers fading at Cascadian Farm in the North Cascades
Fall colors near Sedro-Woolley in the Skagit Valley
Fall colors in the North Cascades
Fall colors on Sun Mountain in the Methow Valley
Fall photography camouflage near Leavenworth
Changing colors in on Stevens Pass
Fall colors in the Tumwater Canyon near Leavenworth
Western Larch above the trail to Blue Lake
Cutthroat Lake Trail between Mazama and the North Cascades National Park