Oregon’s forests of mostly Douglas Fir, provide peaceful, soulful hiking experiences. Deep in the forest, on the trails, it is quiet, green and breathtakingly beautiful.
Not everyone is in it for the spiritual experience. Oregon’s forests are famous for their wild mushroom populations. Innumerable varieties of mushrooms grow here in a rainbow of colors. Once I saw a pink one, an orange one, a red one and even a blue one hiking on the Siltcoos Lake Trail just south of Florence.
There is a mushroom ‘season’ when the fungi are ripe for picking. Mushroom pickers are in it for the income it can provide. You will find pickups parked in various locations in town and out, with signs stating “Mushroom Buyer.” I was hiking the Lake Marie trail one time when suddenly 4 fellas came walking out of the forest, no trail there, right in front of me onto the trail. I was a bit taken aback until I realized they were hunting mushrooms.
In order to hunt profitable mushrooms, one must be educated in all varieties that you can find here. Some are very poisonous and you don’t want to be trying to sell killer mushrooms.
Boletes come in all sorts of different “flavors,” if you will. Some are poisonous, some are edible but taste awful, and some are edible and very tasty. You do have to know your mushrooms.
Morels come in a variety of different kinds, including false morels. They have a nutty flavor and also taste like steak. Mostly they are edible except for the false kind. You just have to know your mushrooms.
Matsutke mushrooms are known for their sweet and spicy scent. They are small, white, round ‘shrooms’ that can be difficult to find as they hide in the dirt.
Oregon’s favorite, most prized and most expensive variety of mushroom is the Chanterelles that also grow wild in the forests. Chanterelles are orange, shaped like a trumpet and often have wavy edges. The Jack-O-Lantern mushroom resembles the Chanterelle but is poisonous. Know your mushrooms.
This weekend in Yachats is the Yachats (Ya-hots) Village Mushroom Festival. Oregon’s wild forest mushrooms are featured all week as cuisine in restaurants and at culinary markets. You can have fun times learning all about mushrooms and their role in the ecology of the forests. You can learn how to grow your own culinary mushrooms at home. Expert mushroom educators take part every year in this festival providing exhibits, giving talks, conducting workshops, and taking you on guided walks.
There are also wine and beer tasting and live entertainment. Head to Yachats for a fun-filled weekend all about mushrooms. Don’t forget to stop in at Umpqua River Haven on your way and say “Hi” to us. www.umpquahaven.com
It’s a Chanterelle!