Hiking with Kids: Our top 10 favorite family-friendly hikes within an hour of Portland

SO many of you have asked me for a list of family-friendly hikes that I’d recommend. This has taken me forever to do but I’ve finally gotten around to it!

Typically during the week days, I do the quicker/easier hikes because it’s just the kids and I. We definitely have a few go-to spots that are close to home (we are so lucky to live so close to the Gorge!), but I’d love to know if any of you have any favorites that are easier for kids to hike. With many OR Gorge trails between Corbett and Cascade Locks still damaged and closed, I actually don’t recommend going out that way on weekends at all. I have included one hike in that area (the most western waterfall), but I don’t recommend any others right now.

We definitely do some more challenging ones on the weekends when Tyson is there to help. Holden (4 years old) is at the point where is max is about 4-5 miles, so we typically like stay in the 3-4 mile range just to keep the complaining to a minimum 🙂

I’d like to say, that although I’d say these these hikes are “family-friendly”, there may be sections in some of these trails where your kiddos might have a harder time if they are hiking by themselves. I will make notes on those that may have some difficulties or on those hikes are a little lengthier. If we are going on a hike where we know there is a steep incline for part of the trail, we give ourselves some extra time stopping and taking breaks. It also helps when there is some awesome incentive at the end of the hike (like an amazing waterfall, snacks, or maybe even ice cream on the way home).

Most of these are pretty easy and I think can be done by kids who are at least 4 years of age. And before you head out on the trail, don’t forget to download my Hike More in 2019 Challenge hiking log to keep track of those miles! It’s a great way to remind yourself to get outside more and to remember all the adventures you took this year!

Happy hiking!

1. Powell Butte Nature Park (Portland, OR)

Turn South on 162nd from Powell Blvd. and take the hill up to Powell Butte Nature Park. There you’ll find trails for hiking, biking, and horseback. There is also an awesome Nature Center at the top of the parking lot where you can learn about the water reservoirs and the water pipes used in our water supplies. We usually take the Mountain View Trail up to the top where kids can run around and have a snack. From here, on a clear day, you can see spectacular views Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainer, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. These and other buttes are displayed on the mountain finder (signs point to where you can look out and see these mountains.

Keep going past the mountain finder, turn left onto Wildhorse Trail (look out for horse poop), and then you’ll go down the butte back to where you started on Mountain View Trail. This loop is about 1.25 miles and is mostly on a paved trail (the section of the loop on Wildhorse trail is a dirt trail). We always see a lot of wildlife here too! (Deer, chipmunks, squirrels, and lots of cool insects!) One of our favorites and great for beginning hikers. See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: Plenty

Trail: Mostly paved, some unpaved.

2. Latourell Falls (Corbett, OR)

If you’re heading East on the Historic Columbia River Hwy, Latourell Falls is the first waterfall trailhead (about 2 miles past Crown Point). This one does have a little bit of a climb at the very beginning, but there are good spots to rest if needed. At the parking lot, you’ll notice a trail that descends to the lower falls. Although this is a great little loop, this is not the full trail that will take you to the upper falls.

Go up the steep hill to the first lookout of the lower falls and keep climbing up. It will soon flatten out about .5-.7 miles up. Go over 4 small bridges and you’ll come to the rocky amphitheater of the upper falls (this waterfall actually looks a little bit like a ladder at the top!) Cross the creek to the other side and head north for about .75 miles. You’ll come to a bit of the fork in the road. On the right the trail sort of descends down to the creek and on the left it climbs a bit. Go left and climb up a couple more steep spots (our 4 year old does this by himself – it’s not too crazy). You’ll pass an awesome lookout (with a bench). Start your descend down and pass the really crazy tree on your right (the perfect tree to climb and sit on). You’ll get down to the hwy, and you will need to walk on the road for about 500 ft. I’d recommend crossing the road when safe, so you aren’t blind to the traffic heading east. Head east, and cross the bridge back to the parking lot! This loop is about 2.5 miles and is safe for kids about 4 and older to hike. See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: < 40 spots

Trail: Unpaved, some rocky terrain.

3. Lacamas Creek Trail/Round Lake (Camas, WA)

This is a new hike for us! We stumbled upon Lacamas Creek Trailhead in a hiking with kids book we have. The trailhead is literally right in downtown Camas. It can be kind of confusing to know where to start, but all the trails eventually meet the others so you really can’t get it wrong. We parked at the trailhead on 3rd Ave.

The trail is relatively flat and is very wide. It’s hard to believe that you’re actually in the middle of a city when you’re on this trail – it’s really beautiful! You’ll cross a really cool bridge over Lacamas Creek onto the other side. We took the trail to the left to Pothole Falls and Lacamas Lake. You can also go right, which takes you on a little bit of a lollipop loop (McEnry Trail to Lacamas Park Trail) and back.

We wanted a bit of a longer hike, so we followed Lacamas Creek Trail, to Lower Falls, to Pothole Falls, to the dam, and up to Lacamas Park. We stopped there for a bit to play and then decided to keep going all the way around Round Lake and back down the trail to where we started. We didn’t do it last time, but I’d love to see the Camas Lily Fields next time! (There is another trail you can take on the way down from Round Lake to see the Camas Lilies).

From the trailhead on 3rd Ave., up and around Round Lake, and back down was a total of 5.13 miles. It was a long one but Holden was able to hike it all by himself with a few rest stops. If you didn’t want to do the 5 miles, you could also park at Lacamas Park Trailhead and do the loop around Round Lake. If you aren’t sure how your kids will do, bring a carrier or frame backpack just in case those little legs give in.  See the trail map here. 

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: < 40 spots

Trail: Mostly unpaved

4. Hamilton Mountain Trail to Pool of the Winds (Stevenson, WA)

Hamilton Mountain is so beautiful, but doing the full summit hike is definitely not for most kids. Fortunately, there is a great out-and-back option on this trail which takes you up to Rodney Falls, Hardy Falls, and the very cool Pool of the Winds. This out-and-back option is about 2.25 miles. If you want something a little longer, we took a couple side trails to Little Beacon Rock, and then through Hadley Campground, which made our total trip about 4 miles. The road to the campground connects right back to the trailhead parking lot, so this was an easy addition! See the trail map here.  

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: < 50 spots

Trail: Unpaved

5. Tualatin Hills Nature Park (Beaverton, OR)

tualatinhills_nature

This nature park is also a new one for us, but it’s such a beautiful trail and has many cool trail options. We did a large loop from Vine Maple Trail, to the Old Wagon Trail, to the Oak Trail, which was about 3 miles total. This trail is very flat, and has some nice places to stop for a snack or water break. We also went over a handful of bridges and got to see a lot of wildlife. The nature center here is beautiful and they even hold nature classes and programs! See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: No

Parking: Plenty

Trail: Mostly paved, some unpaved.

6. Forest Park: Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion (Portland, OR)

This is a 5 mile hike that I would be ready to have to carry a kiddo or take lots of breaks. This hike starts at Lower Macleay which is right under a huge bridge right in the middle of NW Portland. Find a parking spot near 29th and Upshur and proceed to the bridge. The hike is relatively flat and easy for the first 2 miles. You pass the old Stone House (which used to be a rest stop for hikers until it was badly damaged from a storm and never repaired). Once you cross the bridge to the other side of the creek, you’ll start to climb up the hill which eventually takes you up to another trailhead right on Cornell Road. Obviously, this is a VERY busy road so use a lot of caution and carry kids across. The trail continues on the other side of the road, and that’s where the climbing begins. Holden couldn’t hike this one all the way, so I ended up letting him ride in the Deuter and it was HARD. This hike has a total elevation gain of like 900ft and I think most of that gain is on this hill up to Pittock Mansion. Take lots of breaks and remind your kids that there is an awesome view at the top with lots of room to rest!

The view at the mansion is one of my all-time favorites. There really is no other view like it, so this harder hike is definitely worth it! Plus the lawn area at the mansion is a great spot to let kids run around. There is also a great gift shop here and nice bathrooms. See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: Limited/Street Parking

Trail: Unpaved

7. Tryon Creek (Portland, OR)

Very similar to Tualatin Hills, Tryon Creek Natural Area is very large and has about 5 miles worth of trails. I don’t think I’ve ever actually followed a particular route when we’ve hiked here. This a great space for a “toddler-led” hike where you can just kind of let the kids run free and go anyway you want. There is some construction happening here now, so check ahead of time to make sure nothing will impact your hike. Please note, the nature center has been closed in construction so the nature center and bathrooms have been closed, but there are porta potties on site. See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: Plenty

Trail: Unpaved

8. Mt. Tabor (Portland, OR)

Right in the heart of Portland, Mt. Tabor is a great option for all kinds of hikers, has some great views of the city, and has a big playground right by the parking lot. There are three main marked trails – red (easiest), green, and blue (hardest). We usually take the blue route – it’s really not hard if you aren’t taking the hundreds of stairs to the old reservoirs (no longer used). When we take the blue loop (which is about 3 miles), we loop around the largest reservoir, and then instead of following the trail up the stairs to the other reservoir, we cut back on the green trail, which intersects with Water Bureau Rd., which then again connects to the blue trail. Take the hill up to the summit (amazing views!) and then continue down an unpaved trail down the hill which takes you to the playground (by the parking lot).

There are bathrooms right by the parking lot, and tons of space for picnicking or running around. See the trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: Yes

Parking: Plenty

Trail: Mostly paved, some unpaved.

9. Mt. Talbert Nature Park (Clackamas, OR)

Although I haven’t done this one in a while, I wanted to include it because it’s a great, relatively easy hike for the family, right in the middle of the city. The loop is about 3 miles and starts on the Mather Rd. Trailhead. Bathrooms also on site.

Again, this is another great open space for kids to hike by themselves, and you don’t have to worry about cliffs or water. Not much to say about this one other than you should add it to your list of quick weekday hikes! See trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: No

Parking: < 50 spots

Trail: Unpaved

10. Rowena Plateau Loop (Mosier, OR)

Rowena Crest at Tom McCall Nature Preserve is a great easy 2.5 hike that overlooks much of the Columbia Gorge. Everywhere you look, there are insane 360 degree views. I will say, that I don’t recommend this one on super hot days, as this area is completely exposed and there is no shade. It can be very dry and hot in the summer months. I would recommend keeping an eye out on hiking websites during April and May to see when the flowers are in full bloom! We went in the middle of May this year and they were already done blooming. But it’s still really pretty!

There are two options for hikes – the Rowena Plateau Loop or the Tom McCall Trail. The Tom McCall is a bit longer – 3.25 miles and has an elevation gain of over 1,000ft. The Rowena trail is a small descend down to the lookout. Because this is a nature preserve, no dogs are allowed. There are porta potties on site. See trail map here.

Bathrooms: Yes

Dogs: No

Parking: Plenty (park around lookout loop and on side of road)

Trail: Unpaved

So there they are! Do you have any hikes within an hour from Portland that you’d recommend for families and first time young hikers? Let me know! Be sure to follow me on Instagram (@Wildlygrey) to see all our adventures!

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