My adventurous friend Becky is my outdoor-mama guru. She hikes, she camps, she explores, all with her children (and camera!) in tow. If I’ve tried a gorgeous hike with my family, odds are it’s because she told me about it. When Becky recommends something, you’re wise to listen. So LISTEN UP:
I’ve always loved the outdoors. Always loved watching sunsets. Always loved being in the mountains. Always loved stargazing. Always loved seeing the changing of the seasons. Being out in nature has always brought me peace. Ever since having kids, I’ve tried to share these things with them, hoping that they will appreciate nature as well. These are some favorite kid-friendly hikes that we enjoy:
1. Wahclella Falls: This hike is definitely one of my favorites (I would hike it every day if I could!). My kids love it as well. It starts on an old service road that runs along Tanner Creek. Look closely in the creek and you’ll most likely be able to spot some massive salmon. The trail eventually becomes more narrow and the elevation gain will begin. There are a few spots that have steep drop-offs, so keep an eye on your little ones in these areas. Overall, it is an easy 2 miles out and back (and did I mention beautiful!!). A Northwest Forest Pass is required, which can be purchased at the trailhead for $5.
2. Elowah Falls: Elowah is another favorite! It is just 1.4 miles round trip (and the trailhead is not far from Wahclella, so the two can easily be paired if you are feeling up to a double dose of awesomeness). The elevation gain is about 300 feet, and there are some steep banks, so keep the kiddos close.
3. Mirror Lake: I love all of the lakes around Mt. Hood, and this one is no exception. This hike is a little bit harder, with an elevation gain of about 800 feet. I’d still consider it easy enough for little ones though. Bring a picnic lunch and take a break (and take in the view of Mt. Hood) at the lake. It is about 3 miles round trip.
4. Tamanawas Falls: This hike is a fun one—it has diverse terrain, from shaded forests to crossing rock slides on the side of a mountain. I found myself saying over and over, “This hike has a little bit of everything!” It was fantastic! The trail follows Cold Spring Creek all the way, and is absolutely beautiful! It does get crowded on weekends, so go early if you wish to avoid them. It’s about 3.5 miles round trip.
5. Forest Park Wildwood Trail: For all those times when I’m itching to get out into nature but don’t have a lot of time to spare (which happens a lot), we usually hit up Forest Park. It’s perfect, and oh so close. We love it around here! When we do hit up Forest Park, it is usually the Wildwood Trail. The trail goes on for 30 miles, and the views are magnificent. Our favorite place to start is at the Audubon Society and meander from there. Some options from this start point are: hike up the hill to Pittock Mansion (3.2 miles round trip) or go down the trail which will soon meet up with Balch Creek. A half a mile later the “Witches Castle” sits on the side of the trail! After that, the trail splits. The lower trail is Lower MacCleay, the upper is Wildwood. There really are so many options when it comes to this trail (and Forest Park in general). Google is always my best friend when figuring out routes to do here.
6. Indian Beach to Tillamook Head: This hike is a small portion of the Oregon Coast Trail. It is about 3 miles round trip with about 800 feet of elevation gain. The trail starts just off of the Indian Beach parking lot and follows Indian Creek up the mountain to the hikers camp. The hike up will get your heart pumping! Just past the hikers camp, there is a WWII bunker. Just past the bunker, there is an amazing cliff-edge viewpoint of the ocean below, and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse which is located a mile offshore.
7. Latourell Falls: This is fun loop trail past two remarkable waterfalls. It is about 2.5 miles with some elevation gain (approximately 500 feet). Latourell Falls is actually just a few minute walk from the parking area. The main falls can get crowded because it is so accessible; continue on though, the crowds seem to stay at the main falls. The trail will eventually wind past Upper Latourell Falls, which is not as breathtaking as the 249-foot Latourell Falls but still worth the walk! The entire loop is fantastic. I really like it this time of year with all of the fall colors.
The Pacific Northwest is packed full of breathtaking scenery. Honestly, we’ve lived here for eight years now, and I’m still blown away by how unreal it all is. So, go—partake of its magic… and take your kiddos with you!
Becky is a nature lover and overall amazing person. She lives in Portland’s west side with her husband and three children. See more of her breathtaking pictures through her business Capture Photography.