Canopy leaf area index (LAI), defined as the single-sided leaf area per unit ground area, is a quantitative measure of canopy foliar area. LAI is a controlling biophysical property of vegetation function, and quantifying LAI is thus vital for understanding energy, carbon and water fluxes between the land surface and the atmosphere. LAI is routinely available from Earth Observation (EO) instruments such as MODIS. However EO-derived estimates of LAI require validation before they are utilised by the ecosystem modelling community. Previous validation work on the MODIS collection 4 (c4) product suggested considerable error especially in forested biomes, and as a result significant modification of the MODIS LAI algorithm has been made for the most recent collection 5 (c5). As a result of these changes the current MODIS LAI product has not been widely validated. We present a validation of the MODIS c5 LAI product over a 121 km(2) area of mixed coniferous forest in Oregon, USA, based on detailed ground measurements which we have upscaled using high resolution EO data. Our analysis suggests that c5 shows a much more realistic temporal LAI dynamic over c4 values for the site we examined. We find improved spatial consistency between the MODIS c5 LAI product and upscaled in situ measurements. However results also suggest that the c5 LAI product underestimates the upper range of upscaled in situ LAI measurements.