Take a two-day tour of covered bridge country during the peak of autumn color.
Located at the south end of the Willamette Valley between the Coast and Cascade Mountain range, the town of Cottage Grove is small in size and big in beauty. Explore the covered bridges, waterfalls and bike rides along the scenic back roads. Explore Main Street's historic buildings, one-of-a-kind shops and great local restaurants just minutes from wine country.
This charming town is best known as the Covered Bridge Capital of the West. For that reason, many visitors start their journey with a tour of the bridges. A driving tour along the 20-mile (32 km) Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour Route passes six of the region's remaining 20 covered bridges. Cyclists will love pedaling the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway for a total of 36 miles (58 km). The covered bridges are especially romantic in the fall season when the rivers are lined with brightly colored leaves.
After a morning full of historic sites, enjoy lunch at Jack Sprats on Main Street for comfort food with vegan and gluten-free options or try Big Stuff Barbecue for a meat-lovers meal. Arrive early or make a reservation when possible to give yourself plenty of time for dining.
Charming downtown Main Street is the place to shop for antiques, games, flowers, furniture, books and more. Cottage Grove is also a draw for its 21 public murals which can be viewed along a self-guided walking tour.
The Bohemia Gold Mining Museum pays tribute to the area's mining past with exhibits of archival photos, antique tools and ore samples from local mines. East from downtown, the Oregon Aviation Historical Society & Museum exhibits several vintage aircraft in its mission to preserve local aeronautical history.
The second day in Cottage Grove offers the chance to explore the outdoors. Nature lovers delight in a cluster of spectacular waterfalls about 29 miles (46.7 km) east of Cottage Grove in the Umpqua National Forest including Spirit Falls, Moon Falls and Pinard Falls. Each of the three falls can be accessed via a short hike from its respective trailhead. Fall is an excellent time to visit these falls as the verdant canyons surrounding the falls begin to pop with fall foliage. The trails tend to be less crowded during this season as well.
For another wonderful grouping of waterfalls, visit Brice Creek. The Brice Creek Trail passes many forested waterfalls and can be done in its entirety or in smaller sections. One of the falls on this trail is Trestle Creek Falls which offers a double-tiered waterfall that hikers can walk behind for a truly unique experience.
Stop at Coast Fork Brewing for 12 rotating taps of local beer and cider and a savory menu of potpies, toasted sandwiches and salads for a satisfying lunch.
Dip into wine country to taste some of Oregon's finest wines. Don't miss the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris that the Willamette Valley is known for. Make Saginaw Vineyard your first stop to enjoy a glass in their charming red barn tasting room or out in the fields watching the sheep grazing in the fog. Stop to taste some exceptional beer made in wine barrels at Alesong Brewing & Blending before your next winery stop (call ahead for hours). Finish your tasting tour at Silvan Ridge where you can sip something spectacular on the patio where you can enjoy the sunset and glorious views of golden fall vines in the South Willamette Valley.