You don't have to drive up into the mountains to relish the color of changing leaves - just veer off I-5 on your way to or from Portland and enjoy a walk around Lake Sacajawea in the heart of....Longview? This logging town at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers might not strike you as a tourist destination, but it was one of the first planned communities in the country, and it's 120 acre park is a beauty.
Lake Sacajawea Park is a little like Seattle's Greenlake, with a trail leading around a lake, and plenty of majestic trees. Right now, brilliant leaves are blowing everywhere, herons and cormorants, ducks and geese are flying overhead and hanging out on the islands in the lake. The park is beautifully cared for, and the well-groomed trail leads over bridges, past fountains, and a fenced Japanese garden on a little promontory. Unlike Greenlake, the trail isn't at lake-level, but offers an elevated view of the lake sunken below it. Lawns slope down to the water, and the trail is a perfect perch to admire watery reflections of huge maples blazing orange and red - fall color doubled in intensity.
On a recent wet and blustery day I walked around the lake...here are a few scenes that might tempt you south for a visit....the leaves were so multi-colored and freshly blown that the scene beneath our feet was nearly as brilliant as the one overhead and all around us...
Moody skies and trees reflected in the lake looks like a quintessentially English Capability Brown landscape
The Buddha at the entry gate to the little Japanese garden
A maple tree doing its thing
The view from the trail...
This cormorant seems to enjoy its view of the fountain...it sat here preening and spreading its wings for much of our walk