Leef peeping in Southern Oregon is one of autumn’s special pleasures. The blue sky is a vivid backdrop to red, yellow, and orange leaves. Gentle breezes push fallen leaves across the streams and rivers. On this fine October day in Ashland’s Lithia Park, there are dozens of people enjoying the colors. Couples stroll alongside the duck pond. Children laugh through an impromptu soccer match. A photographer shoots outdoor portraits for an Ashland High senior.
Lithia Park is one of the absolute best places to see fall colors. In Southern Oregon, the mountains are covered in fir and pine, but in the valleys, there’s an abundance of maple, oak, locust, birch, and other deciduous trees. 93-acre Lithia Park sits along Lithia Creek (yes, the creek has lithium oxide in it… one of the reasons the area became famous in the 19th century). In 1908, the city of Ashland dedicated the area for a park, and in 1914, John McLaren (landscape architect of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park) was commissioned to design the park. Features in the park include an amphitheatre, Japanese Garden, Perozzi tiered fountain, footbridges, duck ponds, and wonderful hiking trails. There’s also a great playground area and access to the creek for wading on hot days.